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'The Sixth Sense 1999' Sense'ational 25/04/2016

Figure 1: 'The Sixth Sense 1999' Poster
This film review will focus on the film 'The Sixth Sense (1999)', the plot of the story is a little boy called Cole Sear, who has rare gift and curse, he has the ability to see dead people. When he is consulted by a doctor known as Malcolm Crowe he quickly makes friends with the small child and proceeds to help him, however the plot of this film has one of the best plot twist ending for any film. When the ending is first seen it is slightly questionable and with a few inconsistencies with the screenplay, however after going back and watching it again the screenplay is extremely well done, near to the point of flawless, it sums up the entire film with incredible beauty and perfection.

The film was released in 1999 and was directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan, produced by Frank Marshal, cinematography was Tak Fujimoto and the music for the film was done by James Newton Howard. This film was one of the most successful films of 1999, being the second highest grossing profit film right behind 'Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace', grossing over $600 million worldwide.

The entire film is really good, with very few flaws and near perfect screenplay this is a must watch, points in the film can be slightly questionable at times, the most notable the anniversary dinner scene, but apart from that this film is brilliant! "Cinema literates know when to expect the unexpected in a thriller. Without giving the slightest bit away, then, let me say that the coolest thing about The Sixth Sense is how this twisty ghost story, about a child who sees dead people all around him, circumvents all such instincts. It’s a psychological thriller that actually thrills." (L Schwawzbaum. 2002)

Figure 2: Malcolm and Cole
The plot of this film is one that can make anyone cry, the screenplay, cinematography, music and acting come together in perfect harmony. From the beginning we are given the whole film in the short space of a couple minutes, for how the movie will play out, its only when the end of the film takes place do all the pieces of this creepy jigsaw puzzle come together. The main point to elaborate is how the dead are portrayed in the film and the horror that 'shrouds' them. The first time we see one of the ghosts we can see that something horrific has happened to them, in the eyes of a child this is somewhat of nightmare fuel. Having these bodies roam empty dark hallways with no purpose being almost like zombies gives the feeling of hostility, almost like some sort of child's nightmare. This also gives Cole a reason for not only why he wants to stay clear of these guys, but why we are lead to believe how all of these ghosts are bad. If the ghost are something that can bring harm to another than surely it is common sense to stay away from the threat, which also explains why no-one would help them. "Gradually, Cole’s visions increase — people hanging from the rafters of his school, which used to be a prison, a kid with the back of his head blown away, a teenage girl from the neighborhood dying. Often, as in “The Haunting,” the presence of ghosts is indicated by frosty breath, and James Newton Howard’s score effectively builds and sustains a threatening mood." (T Mcarthy. 1999)

The main ghost to be spoken about however is the little girl who was poisoned by the mother, this is the only reason atrocity to humanity in the film, being secretly fed some sort of chemical to kill her, the way this is depicted when we are first introduced to her and how she is portrayed is very key to showing how Cole has to overcome his gift and fear. The little girl appears out of nowhere having an odd substance oozing out of her mouth, almost being overflowed with gunk, once she is spoken too though and her issue has been resolved we never hear or see from this girl again, showing that an innocent soul has been put to rest.

Figure 3: Dead Girl
Once it is also found out that Cole can see dead people some of this actions in the film can be understood, most notably when he is locked in the closet and him talking about what his school was previously used for. It must be said that for his age Cole can take extreme mental trauma very well, maybe this was why he was given this attribute? who knows. An interesting point to elaborate on however is how the world around him reacts to hearing these hard truths. When this conversation is brought up everyone judges Cole for his 'strange' outbursts, even though he is only describing what is happening, showing how delicate the human mind is for some people.

Cole's power has somewhat of a religious origin, he is found hiding in the church with his toys, playing with them. Now when the film ends the first thing to question is why is Cole not freaked out all the time, with the amount of dead people you would think any more souls would be wondering the streets, even in a church there is a graveyard usually quite close by, so why have no ghost wander into the church? That is until the conversation is had with Malcolm who says the church was a place to keep bad people out and good people safe. All of the ghosts we see have had something horrific done to them, a tragic accidental shotgun blast or been hung all of the ghost appear to have had something done to them. In this film the ghosts that are shown are not that of completely free will but have some sort of burden to get rid of, which is what Cole does.

Figure 4: Hung Victims
The ending for the film is made in a way which sums up the whole film, and the plot twist also brings up questions which would rather not be answered. The biggest shock in the final scene is about Malcolm, we saw he was shot and we are led to believe he is alive and well, helping patients, however it turns out he has been dead the whole time, which brings up the most annoying part of the film, the one question that cannot be answered and is the only real flaw with the film, Malcolm being dead. Now from the way the film opens it say's "The Next Fall", meaning that quite some time has passed ever since the shooting, so how come Malcolm doesn't know he is dead? Even if he was taken into the hospital and patched up someone would have spoken to him. It's understandable what happens for narrative reasons, but it is a massive gaping hole that needs to be ignored none the less, and the only real flaw with the film.

So apart from the massive issue of Malcolm's demise realization, the ending sequence sums up all we know so far and then neatly wraps it all up, even down to Malcolm's wife breath being cold, there were nice details put in that really pulled at most heartstrings. We like Malcolm as a character for his kind and gentle nature, going the extra mile when it is needed, then he has been dead the whole time, bombshell dropped. He then begins to understand why things had been different for him, ever since the shooting. It also explains why Cole is the only person who really talks to him and why he talks to him at all, because his wound is no visible Malcolm is not seen as a threat like most of the other ghosts, giving Malcolm an 'Inside' perspective on Cole's issue. One he accepts that he has perished he then puts himself to rest by saying goodbye to the one he loved and the film ends. "Classy, creepy and cunnningly constructed, Shyamalan's film offers melacholy pleasures and some genuinely effective scares. A quality Hollywood offering and a massive hit." (Film 4. 2010)


Film 4
(2010) The sixth sense. 
(Accessed on 25 April 2016)

L. Schwawzbaum
The sixth sense. (2002) Directed by Shyamalan, N.M. Buena Vista Pictures. 
(Accessed on 25 April 2016)

T. McCarthy:
(1999) Review: ‘The sixth sense’. 
(Accessed on 25 April 2016)

Image Bibliography

Figure 1: 'The Sixth Sense 1999' Poster

Figure 2: Malcolm and Cole

Figure 3: Dead Girl

Figure 4: Hung Victims