Why do we love movies about madness?
Why do we love movies about madness?

One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

From the insane killer to the freak genius, cinema is a Factory of clichés.


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I honestly loved Joker.

Like many people, I am fond of characters that drown themselves in their thoughts - hallucinated, anxious, uncontrolled guys who can't tell the difference between the outside reality and their minds.

Most of the times, the cinema is a factory of clichés and social indoctrination, with two opposite tropes constantly in the plot:

Woody Allen's syndrome: or how cool it is for some people to spend their entire lives going to the therapist, with weird or even toxic relationships on the pretext they are depressed or on the verge of a mental collapse.

Or Taxi Driver. I mean… That neighbor with bulging eyes who writes anonymous hazards on the napkins and you imagine him walking to his office with a gun under his pants. 

The reality, as you know, isn't so extreme.

For the Spanish neuropsychologist and writer, Jose Valenzuela, author of 'Todos nacemos locos. 50 títulos esenciales sobre el trastorno mental', madness has always been associated with something dark and uncontrolled, and cinema has taken profit from it.

"We feel attracted by craziness because it is related to the chaos we can't get under control, and it has been an excellent dramatic trigger for movies: the dangerously insane. And also its sweetened version: the guy without social skills who is a genius." 

"They are both a time bomb because there is any context for their illness," states Valenzuela.

This reminds us that our voyeurism for mental illnesses is not new; in the eighteen and nineteen centuries, bourgeois paid for visiting asylums as if they went to the zoo.

There is not a way to get madness under control, and that's why the System feels troubling. You can visit ten psychiatrists and all you get are different versions of your mental health”, he resumes.

However, cinema gives us sometimes good pieces where madness is not an excuse but another human condition.

Valenzuela recommends two movies further from the stereotypical thrillers:


Have you ever thought about how a schizophrenic person perceives reality?

Chaos and hallucinations are the main ingredients in one of the less known and hypnotic David Cronenberg’s movies.

Once it’s over, you’ll ask yourself which parts were memories and which simple delirium.

Julien Donkey-Boy

A movie where an insane character is not the trigger for a weird and bloody story but a normal person with another mental condition.

Directed by Harmony Korine, this independent film depicts Julien’s life as schizophrenic, and his dysfunctional family.



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