Double Bill

SALVADOR DIR. OLIVER STONE (1986) ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST DIR. MILOS FORMAN (1975); david caffrey, Director of `Divorcing Jack', on his Ideal Cinematic Pairing
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The Independent Culture
THESE FILMS have certain similarities I really like. The central characters appeal to me, the combination of their flawed actions but extraordinarily loveable personalities; in fact, the archetypal rogue. I love them both! The journalist in Salvador has reported on all the war-torn areas around the world and this occupation has messed up his own life (as journalism has in Divorcing Jack). It begins with Boyle in a horrible flat after his wife and child have run off. He must try and get a job and so heads off to El Salvador where he also has a native girlfriend. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, meanwhile, is a genuine bad guy and from the outset will do anything to get out of a bad situation. To get out of going to jail, he fakes insanity.

These rogue characters are put in certain situations where you are able to see another side to them. In Salvador, there is one horrific scene at the end where his girlfriend and child are taken back to El Salvador, despite all Boyle's efforts. With One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, it's a slightly different take. Although sadness comes from the fact that they lobotomise McMurphy, he has also given Indian Chief the courage to speak and get out. With both films, what happens is tremendously poignant. And the characters show that they are loveable and funny within horrific situations.

The journalist in Salvador may be a drinker and Jack the lad but he does all he possibly can to get immunity for his girlfriend. McMurphy is the same - he finds himself in the asylum where he uplifts everyone and treats their rehabilitation as a goal for himself; when he gets Indian Chief to put a ball in the basket, it is one over on the screws. There is a great scene when Indian says his first words - "Juicy Fruit" - and McMurphy says: "you have fooled them all." The characters come out of their shells through the extrovert and brave qualities they see in McMurphy - Indian quite literally gets a new lease of life. Boyle and McMurphy are the kind of characters I always feel a desire to be, although you know they will never manage to have any of the securities of life.

The direction of Salvador is deliberately rough round the edges. Oliver Stone funded it through mortgaging his house. I admire the fact there is an awful lot of Stone invested in the movie. He is very much of the Vietnam generation and you can see this in the scene where Boyle and the James Belushi character are driving to El Salvador and Boyle doesn't tell him where he is going. Belushi goes off his head because they are heading into a war zone.

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, everything is shot in quite drab colours, but then you get the scene where they get out of the mental institute and go on a boat wearing very bright life-jackets and are incredibly happy. There is a Ken Loach style to it. It isn't a flashily shot film but it is suited to life in an asylum, where everything is limited and toned down. The two movies have a tremendous amount of humour and depth without every being trite or obvious.