Existentialism

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Through a critical analysis of two films, discuss how they explore philosophical issues.

During this essay, I will Identify and critically articulate basic philosophical concepts and themes in two films, one from the lecture programme and another of my choice. I will also undertake independent study using appropriate resources and summaries and communicate my findings.

Existentialism
A post second world war movement, mainly centered around artistic and creative intellectuals. A difficult concept to define if indeed concept is the correct term. Existentialism seems to come from the human nature and how individuals deal with there own existence, indeed one of the most famous questions which perhaps describes the movement is “if a tree falls but no one is there does it make a sound?” converting this to man kinds philosophy “if we do not have a marked existence then do we exist?” as a human being we have to create values by living life which intern creates cause and effect.

Socrates described philosophy as “The pursuit of basic truths about human nature, to thine own self be true” (Existentialism - a brief insight by Thomas Flynn) Humans exist in – situation, we are part of the universe and as such have our own parts to play, quite simply the actions of one person can influence whether another tells the truth or lies, lives or dies, otherwise known as cause and effect. Two of the most important thinkers in this movement Martin Heidegger and John-Paul Sartre have differing views, both reasoned arguments, Heidegger is concerned with knowing, how you know and that you know it. Sartre is much more concerned with acting, the end result would appear to be that we make our own assumptions. In his journals another member of the existentialist,, movement Kierkegaard says, “The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die” (Flynn, p5).

Existentialism “One flew over the cuckoos nest”
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest (1975) Directed by Milos Forman. The story is about the character Randall McMurphy (Jack Nicholson). He has a criminal past and has gotten himself into trouble with the law. To escape labor duties in prison, McMurphy pleads insanity and is sent to a ward for the mentally unstable. Once here, McMurphy both endures and stands witness to the abuse and degradation of the oppressive Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher).

The premise of this film seems to rely heavily on this quote from John Locke, “The dread of evil is a much more forcible principle of human actions than the prospect of good” (John Locke – Philosophyquotes.tumbir.com) the patients in the psychiatric ward have more to fear than fear itself. Nurse Ratched appears to rule with a calm voice and placid demeanor when in reality her quiet voice and knowledge of the characters history gives her the upper hand, as with Billy It becomes apparent that she is friends with Billy’s mother and therefore she holds the rod to beat him with. Billy does not want to talk about his suicide attempts and in a sudden show of comrade ship Mr. Cheswick jumps to Billy’s Defense. This seems to show that although the characters are portrayed as being insane they still know from right and wrong. “Underlying such conceptions is the thought that there are kinds of understanding which transform a persons stance towards reality and hence his life. How he lives, or is, there by becomes a test of what he knows.” (David E Cooper, Existentialism, A reconstruction second edition, 1999, p21).

The character Randall Patrick McMurphy does not appear to be a complex individual he does by his own admission state “Now they’re telling me I’m crazy in here because i don’t sit here like a god damn vegetable.” He is telling the governor that they are crazier than he is, he is in a no win situation. McMurphys ideas on his existence are based on the fact that he wont let the bastards grind him down. As the film progresses the patients are no...
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