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The Sixth Sense
Director: M. Night Shyamalan, 1999.
Malcolm Crowe .............................. BRUCE WILLIS
Cole Sear .......................... HALEY JOEL OSMENT
Lynn Sear ................................... TONI COLLETTE
Anna Crowe ............................OLIVIA WILLIAMS
Tommy Tammisimo .................TREVOR MORGAN
Vincent Gray ........................DONNIE WAHLBERG
Kyra Collins ..............................MISCHA BARTON
Stanley Cunningham ....................BRUCE NORRIS
Sean ..................................... GLENN FITZGERALD
 
Article added in October 2000
The director of Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan, is the son of an Indian doctor. He was born in Madras in 1970, but grew up in Philadelphia. His parents produced his first film Praying with Anger which he shot at the age of 21. He played the leading role of an Indian-American student who goes back to Madras, where his parents came from, for one year. The film impressed people at Miramax to the point that they produced his second film, Wide Awake, in which a young boy who cannot cope with the death of his grandfather. Disney paid $3 million for the screenplay of Sixth Sense. A clever investment since the film made about $300 million in the US alone.
 
It is no horror film based on special effects and shot in a video clip esthetic. On the contrary, their are no digital gimmicks and the story unfolds very slowly. Since the writer himself directs the film, there were no problems of interpretation. The film is less about separation, divorce, death and visions than about communication between people. The psychology of the different characters and, above all, the relation between the child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) and his young patient, the boy Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), are at the center of the movie. The star of the film is undoubtedly the then eleven year old Osment who was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Cole Sear. In 1994, Osment had won a prize for his role as the young Forrest Gump. Bruce Willis proves, as before in Terry Gilliams' 12 Monkeys, that he can do more than just play a one-dimensional hero in stupid action films. In Sixth Sense he plays a vulnerable and hurt man.
 
Cole Sear's life is full of strange events. The other children think he is crazy and once lock him up behind doors. The boy is terribly afraid and screaming. His mother brings him to a doctor, played by director Shyamalan, who simply says that the experience was not too traumatizing for Cole. Malcolm Crowe becomes the man who may help Cole.
 
He is a young, sensitive boy from a single-parent family. He is afraid of telling his mother (Toni Collette) about the visions he has because he thinks she might call him a freak like his schoolmates do. It takes a while for Cole to confess his best kept secret to Malcolm Crowe: "I can see dead people." The child psychologist has problems himself. Crowe could not help a patient who, ten years later, comes into his flat and kills himself. Since then, Malcolm's marriage seems to be falling apart.
 
The troubled child and the not less troubled psychologist help each other. Cole tells tells Malcolm that he can see dead people, hanged and otherwise killed ones, who terrorize him. The child psychologist has initial doubts and thinks he cannot help the boy as with the man who killed himself. He thinks that after the divorce of his parents, the boy suffers from acute anxiety, is socially isolated and has a possible mood disorder. He follows the boy into a church where Cole is speaking words in Latin. Later at home, he translates the words and finds out that the boy had said: "Out of the depths, I cry to you o Lord". Slowly, the psychologist overcomes his doubts about the boys remarks and can establish a relation with him. It is the boy who pushes him further: "Don't give up, you can help me". Malcolm finds hidden voices on a taped session with the boy. I voice says: "Yo no quere morir. Salvame!" (I don't want to die, save me!). The child psychologist can help and make Cole understand that he does not have to be afraid. The dead probably only want to speak to someone who can understand them. The frightening thing is according to Cole that the dead do not realize that they are dead. And they are everywhere.
 
Until the last moment I thought that this is a quiet, nice film. But why all the fuss about it? Only at the very end does Shyamalan reveal something about the relation between Malcolm and Cole to us, which makes the story appear in a totally different light. In retrospect, it was almost obvious all the time, but unlike most films where one can guess the end (there might be two possible outcomes, but the end itself is no surprise) in Sixth Sense it is unexpected and, at the same time, logical. Shyamalan is already more than just a great talent of American filmmaking.

The Sixth Sense. Oder the DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Canada.




The Sixth Sense. Oder the DVD from Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon Canada.