Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Fiction becomes film becomes reality

Brad Cain of the Associated Press reports that part of the Oregon State Hospital in Salem will be spared the wrecking ball and serve as a museum to commemorate the 1975 film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," based on the book by Oregonian Ken Kesey.

I don't remember (maybe you do) whether was book was set in the Oregon State Hospital. It's at least implied.

Demolition crews are going to spare one section of the hospital, the marble hydrotherapy device that Chief Bromden throws through the window, Bromden's broom (which earned him the nickname "Chief Broom") and a bathtub used by Danny DeVito in the film. It will eventually become the Museum of Mental Health. Meanwhile, the new Oregon State Hospital will be built next door.

Writes Cain:

The movie based on Ken Kesey's 1962 novel was fictional, but it has become closely associated over the years with real-life problems at Oregon's crumbling, overcrowded psychiatric facility.... Hospital superintendent Roy Orr said mental health advocates are divided on whether "Cuckoo's Nest" helped promote the cause of the mentally ill or was an overly sensationalized depiction of brutality in state mental institutions. But he supports devoting part of the museum to the movie."I guess I just view it as a part of our past; and now it's time to move on," he said.

Care in mental hospitals has come a long way since the lobotomies and forced incarcerations of the 1960s. But mental health care in general has a long way to go.

But I'm all in favor of any museum that raises the issue. It can also become a site on "The Literary Tour of the West," which should include other key sites in the region's (and Wyoming's) fictional history: a Rock Springs motel commemorating Richard Ford's story of the same name; Brokeback Mountain, located somewhere (possibly everywhere) in Wyoming; The Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow, which does exist; the site of the castle wherein lives Philip K. Dick's "The Man in the High Castle;" and C.J. Box's town of Saddlestring. Others?


The Boise Picayune said...

Happy Buddha's Birthday!

Paula said...

Forced institutionalization is still a problem in psychiatry. Thomas Szasz is the leading proponent of abolishing the practice.

Michael Shay said...

I did not realize that. I will look up Mr. Szasz and his work.