At the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Chief Bromden, a 6'5, 235 lb patient lifts a heavy fountain off the floor that was probably at least a good 1,000 lbs and throws it out the window. Even though I thought this movie was a good movie, I found the movie's ending to be unrealistic, and the movie would be classified as a realistic fiction drama. Could the Chief actually have done that?

1 Answer 1


Chief Bromden is actually 6' 7" in the movie. The object that he lifts is a hydro-therapy control panel. Although the movie does not state the weight of the object, the book describes the control panel as weighing approximately 400 pounds.

The importance of this scene is not just the weight of the control panel, but the events leading up to Chief Bromden discovering his strength and that he actually can lift the panel and throw it out the window.

Chief Bromden has been belittled for so long that he actually believes that he is physically small and weak. He has believed this for the majority of his stay at the psychiatric hospital (approximately 10 years) Bromden lives in a haze that he has created for himself as a kind of security. Everyone in the hospital believes that he is deaf and dumb when in actuality, he is listening and observing everything that the patients and staff do.

When Randall McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) begins to build up Bromden's confidence and slowly helps him out of this haze, he realizes the truth behind his illness and why he is unable to recover.

The control panel was also a source of anger, pain and frustration for all of the patients at the hospital. It was used as "therapy" which was in essence torture for all of them.

Chief Bromden, realizing that he actually is physically and mentally competent uses all of his repressed anger and frustration to lift the control panel.

Competitive body builders can bench press approximately 400 pounds. This is on average depending on several factors such as age, fitness level and weight. This does not suggest that Chief Bromden was a professional body builder by any means. However, combined with Bromden's physical frame, unrealized strength, rage and adrenaline, it is highly possible that he could lift the control panel and throw it out the window as portrayed in the film.

  • The average competitive body builder is quite a lot shorter than 6' 7" though, right? It's a discipline more focussed on looks than say weightlifting.
    – OrangeDog
    Sep 8, 2016 at 13:13
  • @OrangeDog and steelershark: powerlifting is what you should use as a comparison. Lifting a weight that way is more comparable to a deadlift, and you don't need to bench 400lb to deadlift much more.
    – Luciano
    Jul 23, 2018 at 10:21

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