Old School 4 Life‘s Today’s Memory
Premiere of movie The Sixth Sense
Originally shared by Old School 4 Life™
On this day:
At 6th August of 1999, the movie „The Sixth Sense” was released.
Alfred Hitchcock went to great lengths to keep the ending to „Psycho” from leaking out. Many people who watch that film today figure the twist out (probably because it has been imitated in countless thrillers since then), but the film is still a classic that holds up well today.
Surprise endings are, ultimately, just clever contrivances, extra layerings on the cake. They do not constitute the difference between a good movie and a bad movie. A movie must work on its own terms before springing a surprise. The surprise ending to „The Sixth Sense” has gotten so much attention that it threatens to overshadow the film.
What makes this film so wonderful to watch is not simply the acting, or the terror it instills, or even the plot itself. It is the way in which the writer/director M. Night Shyamalan takes his vision from the page, and carefully crafts a tale that completely absorbs the viewer. As a result, we are treated to a wealth of emotion: fear, sadness, joy, confusion, and humor, each one a compliment to the other.
Nevertheless, there can be no denying that the twist in „The Sixth Sense” is particularly clever. It’s no virtue if a twist is impossible to predict. It is just as important that the twist be logical as that it be surprising. Plenty of thrillers feature twists that are arbitrary, where the plot fails to provide enough hints.
Even a clever thriller like „Fight Club” requires a bit of a stretch to accept the ending. What makes „The Sixth Sense” impressive is that it never cheats by suggesting that earlier scenes were imaginary. Everything we see is real, and only our assumptions fool us. If, however, you weren’t fooled, all the better: just because you figure out the magician’s trick does not make it a bad trick.
Consider what appears to be happening in the film. Bruce Willis plays a psychiatrist named Dr. Malcolm Crowe who has received accolades for helping children with problems. We see a romantic evening with him and his wife Lynn Sear portrayed by Toni Collette at home. Then he gets into an ugly, violent confrontation with a former patient.
Willis believes he has failed, and he wants to make amends by helping a new child named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) who appears to be having the same problems (and perhaps the same abilities) that his former patient once displayed. But just as he thinks he’s making progress with Osment, his marriage seems to be falling apart. His wife isn’t talking to him, and is beginning to see another man.
However these events may be reinterpreted by what is revealed later, the movie is effective because it works on this basic level. In a key scene, Willis asks Osment what he wants most, and Osment answers, „I don’t want to be scared anymore.” It is not always clear that Osment is really facing a mortal threat.
But because the movie establishes that he is undergoing a scary experience, by the time the movie reveals what it is that is frightening him, we have our emotions invested in the character, and the terror is very real to us. This is a step that most horror films neglect, the recognition that the most powerful fear may be the fear of fear itself.
A perfect balance. Sad, but not self-pitying. Triumphant, but not cheesy. Frightening, but never grotesque. Shocking, but not gimmicky. Touching without being cheap. Visually it is stunning. There are some truly amazing shots, the attention to color is appreciated. M. Night Shyamalan has created something that will not, can not be outdone. This film is so simple, yet so complex. It is so out there, yet one gets a strange feeling from the film because it seems so real.
The acting is amazing. Bruce Willis has never been better. Toni Collette is at the top of her game. Haley Joel Osment was robbed at the Academy Awards, because he gave in this film the single best child performance and one of the greatest performances of all time (adult or child) in this movie. His ability to communicate, through a simple look or gesture, the depths to which his character’s soul has been thrust is what truly carries the film.
He succeeds at this task beautifully, convincing us while never going over the top; indeed, by the time Cole utters his now-famous line, you not only believe him, you are chilled by the fact that Osment the actor may actually believe it himself. And let’s not forget Olivia Williams who had perhaps the hardest time since she had to play the part that can be viewed on two very different levels.
The film was the second highest grossing film of 1999 (behind ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’), grossing about $293 million domestically and $672 million worldwide. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Osment, and Best Supporting Actress for Collette.
Like all good horror films, „The Sixth Sense” allows the suspense to build and does not rely on either excessive violence or cheap scares. The ending adds an additional level of intrigue, but it is not necessary to one’s enjoyment during the first viewing. Still, if you have not seen the film by now and remain woefully ignorant of the surprise lurking in its plot and before someone ruins it for you, go and watch the movie!