The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American supernatural psychological thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a boy who is able to see and talk to the dead, and Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), a child psychologist who tries to help him. The film established Shyamalan as a writer and director, and introduced the cinema public to his traits, most notably his affinity for surprise endings.
|The Sixth Sense|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Written by||M. Night Shyamalan|
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Edited by||Andrew Mondshein|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures Distribution|
|Box office||$672.8 million|
Released by Hollywood Pictures on August 6, 1999, the film was well-received by critics; praise was given to its acting performances (particularly Willis, Osment, and Toni Collette), atmosphere, and twist conclusion. The Sixth Sense was the second-highest-grossing film of 1999 (behind Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace), taking about $293 million in the US and $379 million in other markets.
The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Shyamalan, Best Supporting Actor for Osment, and Best Supporting Actress for Collette.
Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist in Philadelphia, returns home one night with his wife Anna after having been honored for his work. A young man appears in their bathroom and accuses Malcolm of failing him. Malcolm recognizes him as Vincent Grey, a former patient he treated as a child for hallucinations, but before he can talk Vincent down, Vincent shoots him and then himself.
The next fall, Malcolm begins working with Cole Sear, a young boy. Malcolm feels he must help him in order to rectify his failure and reconcile with his wife, who has become distant and cold. Cole's mother Lynn worries about his social skills, especially after seeing signs of physical harm. Cole eventually confides his secret to Malcolm: he sees ghosts walking around like the living, unaware that they are dead.
Initially, Malcolm thinks Cole is delusional and considers dropping his case. After listening to an audiotape from a session with Vincent, Malcolm hears a weeping man begging for help in Spanish and believes that Cole is telling the truth. He suggests that Cole try to find a purpose for his gift by communicating with the ghosts and helping them finish their business. Cole is unwilling at first, then finally agrees to try to help.
Cole awakens one night to discover a ghost girl vomiting. After finding out who she is, Cole goes with Malcolm to the funeral reception at her home. Cole is directed to a box holding a videotape, which he gives to the ghost girl's father. The tape shows the girl's mother, who was suffering Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP), poisoning her daughter's food. By doing this, Cole has saved the girl's younger sister from the same fate.
Learning to live with the ghosts he sees, Cole begins to fit in at school and is cast as the lead in the school play. Before departing, Cole suggests that Malcolm should try speaking to Anna while she is asleep. Stuck in traffic, Cole tells his mother his secret, and says that someone died in an accident down the road. When Lynn does not believe him, Cole tells her his grandmother visits him and describes how she saw Lynn in a dance performance when she was a child, giving details he could not have known.
Malcolm returns home to find his wife asleep and their wedding video playing. While still asleep, Anna asks why he left her and drops Malcolm's wedding ring. Recalling what Cole told him about how dead people only see what they want to see, Malcolm starts to see things he did not see earlier. Malcolm suddenly remembers being shot and locates his gunshot wound that reveals he was actually killed by Vincent and he has been dead the whole time. Malcolm tells his wife she was never second to anything and that he loves her. Because of Cole's efforts, Malcolm's business is finally complete, and his spirit departs in a flash of light.
- Bruce Willis as Malcolm Crowe
- Haley Joel Osment as Cole Sear
- Toni Collette as Lynn Sear
- Olivia Williams as Anna Crowe
- Donnie Wahlberg as Vincent Grey
- Glenn Fitzgerald as Sean
- Mischa Barton as Kyra Collins
- Trevor Morgan as Tommy Tammisimo
- Bruce Norris as Mr. Stanley Cunningham
- Angelica Page as Mrs. Collins
- Greg Wood as Mr. Collins
- M. Night Shyamalan as Dr. Hill
- Peter Tambakis as Darren
- Jeffrey Zubernis as Bobby
David Vogel, then-president of production of Walt Disney Studios, read Shyamalan's spec script and instantly loved it. Without obtaining corporate approval, Vogel bought the rights to the script, despite the high price of $3 million and the stipulation that Shyamalan could direct the film. Disney later dismissed Vogel from his position at the studio, with Vogel leaving the company shortly thereafter. Disney—apparently in a show of little confidence in the film—sold the production rights to Spyglass Entertainment, while retaining the distribution rights and 12.5% of the film's box office receipt.
During the casting process for the role of Cole Sear, Shyamalan had been apprehensive about Osment's video audition, saying later he was "this really sweet cherub, kind of beautiful, blond boy." Shyamalan saw the role as darker and more brooding but admitted that "He nailed it with the vulnerability and the need ... He was able to convey a need as a human being in a way that was amazing to see."
The color red is intentionally absent from most of the film, but it is used prominently in a few isolated shots for "anything in the real world that has been tainted by the other world" and "to connote really explosively emotional moments and situations". Examples include the door of the church where Cole seeks sanctuary; the balloon, carpet, and Cole's sweater at the birthday party; the tent in which he first encounters Kyra; the volume numbers on Crowe's tape recorder; the doorknob on the locked basement door where Malcolm's office is located; the shirt that Anna wears at the restaurant; Kyra's mother's dress at the wake; and the shawl wrapped around the sleeping Anna.
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 rowing sweatshirt and the different layers of his suit. Though the filmmakers were careful about clues of Malcolm's true state, the camera zooms slowly towards his face when Cole says, "I see dead people." In a special feature, the filmmakers mention they initially feared this would be too much of a giveaway, but decided to leave it in.
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 number 1 film at the U.S. box office becoming only the second film after Titanic (1997) to have grossed more than $20 million a weekend for five weekends. It earned $293,506,292 in the United States and a worldwide gross of $672,806,292, ranking it 35th on the list of box-office money earners in the U.S. as of April 2010. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 57.5 million tickets in the US. In the United Kingdom, it was given at first a limited release on nine screens, and entered at No. 8 before climbing up to No. 1 the next week with 430 theatres playing the film.
After a six-month online promotion campaign, The Sixth Sense was released on VHS and DVD by Hollywood Pictures Home Video on March 28, 2000. It would go on to become the top-selling DVD of 2000, with more than 2.5 million units shipped, as well as the top video rental title of all-time.
The Sixth Sense received positive reviews; Osment in particular was widely praised for his performance. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 86% of 157 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review, along with an average rating of 7.65/10. The site's consensus reads: "M. Night Shayamalan's The Sixth Sense is a twisty ghost story with all the style of a classical Hollywood picture, but all the chills of a modern horror flick." Metacritic rated it 64 out of 100 based on 35 reviews, meaning “generally favorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
By vote of the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The Sixth Sense was awarded the Nebula Award for Best Script during 1999. The film was No. 71 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments, for the scene where Cole encounters a female ghost in his tent. It was named the 89th best American film of all time in a 2007 poll by the American Film Institute.
The Sixth Sense also scored 60th place on AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills, honoring America's most "heart pounding movies".
The Sixth Sense has received numerous awards and nominations, with Academy Award nomination categories ranging from those honoring the film itself (Best Picture), to its writing, editing, and direction (Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Original Screenplay), to its cast's performance (Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress). Especially lauded was the supporting role of actor Haley Joel Osment, whose nominations include an Academy Award, a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, and a Golden Globe Award. Overall, The Sixth Sense was nominated for six Academy Awards and four British Academy Film Awards, but won none. The film received three nominations from the People's Choice Awards and won all of them, with lead actor Bruce Willis being honored for his role. The Satellite Awards nominated the film in four categories, with awards being received for writing (M. Night Shyamalan) and editing (Andrew Mondshein). Supporting actress Toni Collette was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Satellite award for her role in the film. James Newton Howard was honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for his composition of the music for the film.
American Film Institute listsEdit
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills – No. 60
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
- "I see dead people." – No. 44
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – No. 89
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- Howard, Michael (August 8, 2014). "Why The Sixth Sense Ending Has Never Been Matched". Esquire. Retrieved August 13, 2018.
- Weiner, Allison Hope (June 2, 2008). "Shyamalan's Hollywood Horror Story, With Twist". The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
- Bart, Peter (July 2, 2012). "Moguls make switch after power turns off: Is there life after Hollywood?". Variety. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
- Stewart, James B. (2005). DisneyWar: The Battle for the Magic Kingdom. New York: Simon & Schuster
- ""I Wasn't Bluffing": M. Night Shyamalan Recalls 'Sixth Sense' Pitch and Frenzy That Followed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
- Screenwriter/director M. Night Shyamalan, "Rules and Clues" bonus featurette on the DVD.
- Producer Barry Mendel, "Rules and Clues" bonus featurette on the DVD.
- Producer Frank Marshall, "Rules and Clues" bonus featurette on the DVD.
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- "Awards Database". British Academy Film Awards. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
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- "2000 4th Annual SATELLITE Awards". International Press Academy. Archived from the original on January 6, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
- Don Heckman (April 27, 2000). "Howard, Donen Honored by ASCAP". Los Angeles Times.
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