Films by Milos Forman and including “Amadeus” about Mozart

Milos Forman also named as Jan Tomas Forman was a Czechoslovakian born American writer, memoirist, and screenwriter. He was one of Eastern Europe most accomplished filmmakers. When the Soviet Union invaded his homeland in 1968, he relocated to the United States of America, where he directed film adaptations of critically acclaimed literary and theatrical works of authors that included E.L. Doctorow, Ken Kesey, and Peter Shaffer. His films are realist and naturalist featuring the theme of an ordinary man struggling within an oppressive society. ‘Societies are defined by their citizens. If an individual decides to rebel it, subsequently, something tragic will happen to them’.

It was in 1975 that Forman directed a film titled One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which was an adaptation of Ken Kesey’s critically acclaimed novel. The film centers on the arguments between R. P. McMurphy who was a sociopathic and also a charming patient who is placed in a mental hospital, and engaging Nurse Ratched. The aforementioned was a domineering head-nurse who kept attempting to force McMurphy to adhere to an established behavioural system set out by the hospital. McMurphy influences other patients to go against Ratched’s strict rules and regulations in some different ways. It is after a young patient commits suicide that McMurphy physically attacks Ratched, forcing the hospital to lobotomize him.

In 1984 Forman directed Amadeus, a film that was adapted from the play by Peter Shaffer. It is loosely based on the life of renowned composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and focuses mainly on the relationship between Mozart and his mentor, Antonio Salieri. Mozart is an offensive genius who flouts social norms and intentionally and with contempt rejects many of the personal and artistic ideas that Salieri holds sacred. In 1999 Forman directed Man on the Moon. This film is based on the life of comedian and actor Andy Kaufman, who became known during the 1970s and early 1980s for his bizarre and experimental comedy routines. Forman portrays Kaufman as a misunderstood performance artist who took pleasure in pushing the boundaries of comedy to get a reaction from his audience, without caring whether the response was negative.

Forman continues to be acknowledged for his ability to bring to the worlds’ attention the human emotions while presenting a well-rounded characterisation. Some critics have outrightly objected Forman’s film – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, singling out the fact that his European sensibility seems to hinder his adaptation of the American works.

The 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest has shaped the culture surrounding disability. Since the movie portrayed institutionalisation negatively and the standard medical practices surrounding mental disability, it continues to be a controversial film. Kesey wrote the book in the 1960s during a period when social norms were profoundly discussed, and many of them rejected. Mental illness and mental health abnormalities started to be dismissed as the ideal way of referring to people with psychological dispositions. Psychiatric institutionalisation and medication began to be seen as inappropriate, unnecessary power structure, and invasive. The Cuckoo’s Nest came up with the idea of anti-authoritarian, self-defining view on disability.

In the film, there is a continued struggle between patients autonomy and the rules of the nurses. The major theme of the film is the struggle between the individual and the system. Professor Tim Thompson of Pacific University illustrates this very well by stating that the principal theme of the story is the liberation of the individual from cold war America’s impoverished ideal of normalcy.

During the first confrontation between McMurphy and the head nurse, he attempts to get behind the nurse’s desk to turn the music down. One of the nurses screams at him indicating that patients should never be at the nurse’s station and is asked to take his medication. McMurphy immediately responds by stating that he does not like making something that he knows not what it is. The nurse yells back and reminds him that if he doesn’t take medicine orally, a different method will have to be. That clearly shows an impoverished idea of normalcy. Though McMurphy is realistic in wanting to know what medication he is taking, the nurses are in a position to force him to make it since they have the standard of normalcy favoured on their side.

Through the French historian, Michel Foucault offered a critique of the normalcy that’ is presented in Cuckoo’s Nest began to be generally accepted in intellectual circles. Disability started to be viewed as less of a problem but an issue that is created by society. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is among the pioneer films that did challenge the medical model while inserting a model of self-definition and individuality to replace it. The film created a general mistrust of hierarchical medical institutions and was instrumental in the modification of various psychiatric practices.

Amadeus is a play by Peter Saffer and gives highly fictional accounts of the lives of the composers Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri. The tale starts with Salieri, an old man speaking directly to the audience and stating that he poisoned Mozart in his attempt to assassinate him. Salieri is jealous of Mozart’s accomplishment in music and renounces God because of this. He vows to destroy Mozart as a way of getting back to his creator. The play ends with Salieri’s attempted suicide and his confession of having murder Mozart. Though he survives, his admission leaves him wallowing in mediocrity.

As for the Man on the Moon, Andy Kaufman (Jim Carrey) is a struggling performer in a variety of nightclubs. Kaufman tricks his audience in one of his performance and talent agent seeks the opportunity to try to make a contract with him and hire him for a television network. Kaufman would try to test the boundaries of his audience by fighting different kinds of woman in a boxing match and calling them or insulting them. At one point, a boxer even injured him on the neck because Kaufman spilled coffee on him. Though the first woman he fight becomes his girlfriend but there were more outlandish things that he did that makes the network question his actions. For example, he tries to create a pause moment of a frozen time in his show where viewers would think that their television is not working to prank them. Even though he has tremendous talent, the way he is rebelling against society always manages to get him in trouble. There’s no doubt that some sort of tragedy is bound to happen.

Salieri’s envy was in the danger of being overshadowed by the use of the Orchestra pay. The attack on Mozart is a war with God. The production comes out well since it places the human drama that is usually dominant in the music dominated society. Being a rebel, Mozart meets his demise from drinking heavily and continuously asking Salieri to write musical notes. He was pushing himself beyond his ability because prior to that he fainted in a concert. Salieri, clearly tries to normalize Mozart and thinks he is an abomination, he even hires a maid to watch Mozarts every move. He was also very manipulative towards Mozart, pushing him towards his death.

As for the movie, Man on the Moon, Kaufman died from cancer and it seems as though people who rebels against society are meant to die. It’s just instant karma for the characters.

In One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, R. P. McMurphy becomes somewhat of a zombie after he was forced to drink the drugs against his will. The nurse put him in the same room as the Chief and the Chief sees him being lifeless like a zombie instead of the enthusiastic and energetic R. P. Murphy. The Chief decides to kill him by suffocating him with a pillow.

The one thing that all these characters have in common, it seems that society is against their hyperactive energy to go against society. So, subsequently the characters have to suffer with a tragic end for not being normal.

When one thinks of the concept of good versus evil, there should be a recognition that words do have different meanings as far as a variety of people are concerned. The universe has two viewpoints, one based on our genetic hard-wiring and usually focused on survival and aggression. This is what is termed as our animal instincts. The other world is the civilized, modern society that is squarely based on rules that we have created and must conform to them. Humankind accepts the civilised society and views their instincts as aggression and dominance. Belonging to a group influences and defines the individual while ensuring safety and prosperity.