- The Sixth Sense
name = The Sixth Sense
caption = U.S. film poster
M. Night Shyamalan
producer = Kathleen Kennedy
M. Night Shyamalan
Bruce Willis Haley Joel Osment Toni Collette Olivia Williams
James Newton Howard
Buena Vista Pictures
August 6, 1999
runtime = 107 min.
language = English
James Newton Howard
amg_id = 1:180403
imdb_id = 0167404
budget = $40,000,000
gross = $672,806,292
"The Sixth Sense" is a
1999 psychological horrorfilm written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It tells the story of Cole Sear, a troubled, isolated boy ( Haley Joel Osment) who claims to be able to see and talk to the dead (with the famous line, "I see dead people"), and an equally troubled child psychologist( Bruce Willis) who tries to help him. The film established Shyamalan as a writer and director, and introduced the cinema public to his signatures: his appearance in cameo roles and his affinity for twist endings. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
As the film opens, Dr. Malcolm Crowe (
Bruce Willis) a prominent child psychologist, returns home one night with his wife, Anna Crowe ( Olivia Williams), from an event in which he was honored for his efforts with children. The two discover they are not alone - Vincent Gray ( Donnie Wahlberg), a former patient of Crowe's, appears naked in the doorway of their bathroom brandishing a gun saying, "I don't want to be afraid anymore." Vincent is upset that Crowe could not help him, and Crowe recognizes Vincent as a former patient whom he once treated as a child for his hallucinations. He condemns Malcolm for his inability to help him and shoots him in the stomach, and seconds later turns the gun on himself. The scene fades away with Malcolm's wife by his side.
The next fall Malcolm is shown working with another frightened boy, nine year-old Cole Sear (
Haley Joel Osment), with a condition similar to Vincent's. Malcolm becomes dedicated to this patient, though he is haunted by doubts over his ability to help him after his failure with Vincent. Meanwhile, he apparently begins to neglect his wife, with whom his relationship is falling apart.
Malcolm earns Cole's trust and Cole eventually confides in him that he can "see dead people." Though Malcolm is skeptical at first, he eventually comes to believe that Cole is telling the truth and that Vincent may have had the same ability as Cole. He realizes this one night as he is listening to one of his old tapes, recorded while he was treating Vincent, and hears the pleading voices of dead people in the background. He suggests to Cole that he try to find a purpose for his gift by communicating with the
ghosts, perhaps to aid them in their unfinished business on Earth. Cole at first does not want to heed this advice, as the ghosts terrify him, but he soon decides to try it.
Cole finally talks to one of the ghosts, a girl who appears in his bedroom very sick. He finds out where the girl — Kyra Collins (
Mischa Barton) — lived and goes to her house during her funeral reception. Kyra's ghost appears and shows Cole the location of a box, which is opened to reveal a videotape. When Cole gives it to Kyra's father, the tape reveals that while Kyra was bedridden with illness, her mother (or stepmother) was poisoning her food, and this in fact was what led to Kyra's death (this behavior has been suggested as Munchausen syndrome by proxyor factitious disorder- a form of child abuse). [cite web |url= http://www.centersite.org/poc/view_index.php?idx=37&id=189 |title= Munchausen's Syndrome (and Munchausen's By Proxy) |accessdate= 2007-03-10 |publisher= Mental Help Net ] Now believing in his ability to use his gift to positive effect, Cole confesses his secret to his mother, Lynn ( Toni Collette). Although his mother at first does not believe him, Cole soon tells Lynn that her own mother (Cole's grandmother) once went to see her perform in a dance recital one night when she was a child, and that Lynn was not aware of this because her mother stayed in the back of the audience where she could not be seen. He also tells her the answer to a question she asked when alone at her mother's grave. Lynn tearfully accepts this as the truth.
His faith in himself now restored as a result of his success with Cole, Malcolm returns to his home, where he finds his wife asleep on the couch with the couple's wedding video on in the background, not for the first time. As she sleeps, Anna's hand releases Malcolm's wedding ring, (which he suddenly discovers he has not been wearing), revealing the
twist endingof the film: Malcolm himself is unwittingly one of Cole's ghosts, having been killed by his ex-patient in the opening scene. Due to Cole's efforts, Malcolm's unfinished business—rectifying his failure to understand Vincent—is finally complete.Recalling Cole's advice about talking to his wife while she's asleep so that she'll have to listen, Malcolm fulfills the second reason he returned, and speaks to her saying she was "never second," and that he loved her. Releasing her to move on with her own life, he is free to leave behind the world of the living. The film ends on a short clip of their wedding tape that dissolves into white.
Bruce Willisas Dr. Malcolm Crowe
Haley Joel Osmentas Cole Sear
Toni Colletteas Lynn Sear
Olivia Williamsas Anna Crowe
Donnie Wahlbergas Vincent Grey
Glenn Fitzgeraldas Sean
Mischa Bartonas Kyra Collins
M. Night Shyamalanas Dr. Hill
Trevor Morganas Tommy Tammisimo
*Man In Closet- suffocation
*Kitchen Woman- had been abused by her husband, so had slashed her wrists
*Gunshot Wound boy- shot in the back of the head
*Kyra Collins- poisoned to death by her mother
*Hanging bodies in schoolhouse- people lynched a long time ago
*Backstage woman- died in a school fire
*Bike rider- hit by a car
*Malcolm Crowe- the protagonist played by Bruce Willis; he was shot at the film's beginning in the stomach, and died from his wound, but this was left out until the film's end
M. Night Shyamalan said that the "The Tale of the Dream Girl" episode of Nickelodeon's television series "
Are You Afraid of the Dark?" directed by David Winningwas an inspiration for the film. [cite web |url= http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0796117/bio |title= M. Night Shyamalan's IMDB biography |accessdate= 2007-05-14]
According to the book "
DisneyWar", Disney's David Vogel read Shyamalan's speculative script and instantly loved it. Without obtaining approval from his boss, Vogel bought the rights to the script, despite the high price of US$2 million and the stipulation that Shyamalan could direct the film. Disney later stripped Vogel of the title of President of Walt Disney Pictures, and Vogel left the company. Disney, apparently in a show of little confidence in the film, sold the distribution rights to Spyglass Entertainment, and kept only a 12.5% distribution fee for itself.
Shyamalan's production script for the film is unusual; nearly all of the information usually included in screenplays is absent. Because Shyamalan intended to direct the film himself, he omitted from the screenplay most of the information that a screenwriter would normally convey to a director.
It was revealed in the commentary from the film
Superbad, starring Seth Rogenand Michael Cera, that Cera's first audition for a film was for the role of Cole.
There are also some discrepancies between the script and the film. In the screenplay, when Malcolm Crowe is on his way to meet Cole Sear for the first time (in the first scene after he is shot), Crowe abruptly stops and grips his abdomen while grimacing in pain.
After Crowe is shot, Cole Sear is the only other character who interacts with him in dialogue. In both the script and the film, Malcolm is present (but unnoticed) during a conversation between Cole's mother Lynn and a child psychologist. In the script, Malcolm speaks one line of dialogue in this sequence, making Lynn seem to be responding to him when she is actually responding to the psychologist. In the film, this line is omitted.
The left-handed Bruce Willis learned to write with his right hand for the film, to hide from the audience that Crowe was no longer wearing his wedding ring. [cite web |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167404/trivia| title="Sixth Sense" trivia at IMDB] All of the clothes Malcolm wears during the film are items he wore or touched the evening before his death, which included his overcoat, his blue sweater and the different layers of his suit. Though the filmmakers were careful about clues of Malcolm's true state, the camera zooms slowly towards Crowe's face when Cole says "I see dead people." In a special feature the filmmakers mention they initially feared this shot would be a giveaway, but decided to leave it in.Fact|date=April 2008
The color red is intentionally absent from most of the film, but is used prominently in a few isolated shots where the dead are present: the color of the balloon and Cole's sweater at the birthday party, the tent in which he first encounters Kyra, the numbers on Crowe's tape player, the doorknob to the locked basement closet, and the grieving mother's dress. This is mentioned in a special featurette on the DVD. Fact|date=April 2008
The film had a production budget of approximately $40 million (plus $25 million for prints and advertising). It grossed $26.6 million in its opening weekend and spent five weeks as the #1 film at the U.S. box office. [ [http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=sixthsense.htm The Sixth Sense (1999) - Weekend Box Office] .
Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2007-08-22] It earned $293,506,292 in the United Statesand a worldwide gross of $672,806,292, ranking it 27th on the list of box-office money earners in the U.S. as of March 2008. [cite web |url= http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/domestic.htm |title= The Sixth Sense - Box Office Data |accessdate= 2008-03-09] In the United Kingdom, it was given at first a limited release at 9 screens, and entered at #8 before climbing up to #1 the following week with 430 theatres playing the film. [ [http://www.imdb.com/boxoffice/?date=1999-11-05®ion=uk United Kingdom Box Office Returns for the weekend starting 5 November 1999] . Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-01-27] [ [http://www.imdb.com/boxoffice/?date=1999-11-12®ion=uk United Kingdom Box Office Returns for the weekend starting 12 November 1999] . Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-01-27]
The film was nominated for six Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (
M. Night Shyamalan), Best Actor in a Supporting Role ( Haley Joel Osment), Best Actress in a Supporting Role ( Toni Collette), and Best Editing ( Andrew Mondshein).
By vote of the members of the
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The Sixth Sense was awarded the Nebula Award for Best Scriptin 1999. The film was #71 on Bravo's "100 Scariest Movie Moments". It was also recently named the 89th Best Film of all time by the American Film Institute in 2007.
In popular culture
The line "I see dead people" from the film became a popular
catchphraseafter its release, reaching #44 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Quote List. "The Sixth Sense" also captured the 60th place in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills, honoring America's most "heart pounding movies of all-time". It also appears on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movieslist
* [http://www.mnight.com/sixthsense The Sixth Sense - M. Night Shyamalan Online]
* [http://othervoices.org/2.2/rickels/index.html Recognition Values: Seeing The Sixth Sense Again for the First Time] , essay by Laurence A. Richels, Other Voices, March 2002.
* [http://www.fbi945movies.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=132294 Radio Interview with Sixth Sense Producer Frank Marshall from FBi 94.5 Sydney Australia]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.