How does the director appeal to the audiences’ emotions in the film ‘The Sixth Sense’
In this essay I will write about the film ‘The Sixth Sense’ and what the director does to appeal to the audiences’ emotions in this film. The director and screenwriter of this film is called Mr Night Shyalaman. He also directed films such as ‘Unbreakable’ (a suspense thriller); ‘The Village’ (paranormal/extra terrestrial); and ‘The Blair Witch project’ (a paranormal thriller based on a true story). One thing these films produced by Shyalaman have in common is that they all have an unexpected twist at the end. ‘The Sixth Sense’ was made in 2000.
This film is a supernatural thriller, as are many of Shyalamans’ other films. Recently starring in ‘Hostage’ and ‘Sin City’, Bruce Willis plays Dr Malcolm Crowe, a successful child psychiatrist. One of his former patients reappears and commits suicide, after attempting to shoot and kill Crowe. Haley Joel plays a troubled, withdrawn young boy who bears a strong resemblance to Crowe’s earlier patient and claims to see ghosts. Toni Collette, who starred in ‘About a Boy’, plays the worried, protective mother, essential to the plot. Olivia Williams plays Crowe’s wife.
After Crowe is shot, they grow apart and he suspects her of having an affair. In the Sixth Sense, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a successful Philadelphia child psychologist is haunted by the sudden reappearance and suicide of a former patient, Vincent Grey, who also shoots Dr Crowe. Months later Dr. Crowe meets Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled, withdrawn young boy who bears a striking similarity to his earlier patient. Cole has a problem, he sees dead people. To the outside world he is seen as a loner, a problem child, and has become increasingly isolated. Dr. Crowe is compelled to help Cole, not only for the boy, but for his own sake. He perceives the suicidal ex – patient as his personal failure, and sets out to redeem himself by righting the wrong and wiping his failure from his conscience. As Dr. Crowe struggles to discover what torments Cole, he must also come to terms with his increasingly distant relationship to his wife (Olivia Williams).
Meanwhile, Cole is unable to describe the horrible things he sees even to his worried mother in fear that she might think of him as a ‘freak’ so he tolerates the ghosts quietly. Cole finally tells Dr. Crowe about his supernatural secret, and Crowe suggests trying to help the ghosts. It works, and Cole ends up telling his mum everything. The future seems to be finally getting rosier for Cole. But Crowe on the other hand, is still unable to communicate with his wife. One night he suddenly realizes the truth; he is actually dead himself! He died when he was shot. This explains why his wife and everyone else apart from Cole have been ignoring him for the past 2 years. This is a stunning finale with a shocking twist. The resolution of this story depends on this surprise.
The revelation casts a new light on the entire story Mr Night Shyalaman creates a tale that completely absorbs the viewer. As a result, the audience goes through many emotions: fear, sadness, joy and confusion, each one a compliment to the other. As this is a chilling psychological thriller, fear is to be expected. Cole is a silent, withdrawn boy, with a constant air of sadness around him. With eyes that always look like they’re on the verge of tears, he convincingly portrays a child who needs to cry, but is too scared – and there are very few things as heart-wrenching as that.
He’s just a human being, like anybody else, who randomly possesses a sixth sense, and because of it, his life has been turned into an utter hell. It’s not fair, and it is this strong sense of unfairness in The Sixth Sense that gives it such a powerful air of sadness. Crowe is always happy and cheerful around Cole, which explains why he never gets frosty breath, as this only happens when ghosts get angry. At the very beginning of the film, everything seems light hearted and relaxed. There is a sense of relief when Cole tells his mum his secret, and they communicate well for the first time.
Cole is confused and frightened at what he is able to see, and it pulls you into feeling confused yourself. The ending happens quickly and is confusing. The sense of confusion in the film helps bring across a sense of fear. There are some key features which confuse the audience; At the start of the film when Dr Crowe is shot, you don’t find out he’s died until the end of the film. Early in the film Cole is left alone in the kitchen for a split second. When his mother returns all of the cupboards have been opened.
This makes the audience, and Cole’s mum, wonder how it has happened. Cole dead Grandmother gave Cole’s mum a pendant, which keeps going missing. Cole is blamed but denies it. At the start of the film, Vincent, the former patient, comes to Crowe’s house and attacks him. The audience doesn’t find out why. When Cole’s mum is cleaning, she comes across an old picture of Cole. There are white specks visible and he is watching them. In history class, Cole knows that his school used to be a hanging ground, when even the history teacher doesn’t know. This confuses the audience.
The director achieves this effect with different technical devices, such as camera angles, lighting, and sound and camera shots. The sixth sense creates many types of fear in his audience. The director uses shock, horror and tension to scare his audience. The camera moves from person to person to show their emotions changing as a scene takes place, for example when Dr Crowe finds the suicidal ex – patient in his bathroom. The fear created in this film is in shocks, for example when Cole gets up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and a ghost walks behind him past the camera.
Things in the storyline make you jump unexpectedly-when this happens it is called a twist. The main twist is at the ned, when Dr Crowe discovers that he is dead. The way the music and lighting are used also creates fear in the audience. The music becomes louder and more violent when a shocking moment happens, like when Dr Crowe’s wife is in the basement at the beginning, and the lighting is used to make shadows which create a creepy atmosphere. Fear is the second emotion presented in the film. Another important part of the film is the relationships between the key characters.
The main relationships in this film are between doctor Crowe and his wife at the beginning of the film is very close. As the film goes on they begin to drift apart. He becomes angry as she’s seeing another man and she becomes depressed. At the end of the film the main twist is that Crowe had been dead all along and his wife was grieving. Their relationship makes the audience feel for them as they have stopped communicating. The relationship between Cole and his mother is again a very loving one. Cole’s mum is trying hard to protect him and understand his problems.
She loves him more than anything else but can’t really talk to Cole properly as he has hidden his secrets to protect his mother. At the end of the film Cole and his mother open up to each other and become closer. The audience feels involved as their relationship is the centre of the film. It brings out many emotions so it has a noticeable impact on the audience. Presentational devices play a big part in the film. Presentational devices are things such as special effects or make up. Make up is an important factor in creating fear as the frightening characters wouldn’t make you jump if they looked everyday like Cole or Crowe.
Where the film is set is important as Cole’s flat is gloomy, and gives off a feeling of creepiness. There are many shadows where ghosts could be lurking in wait and it is quite poky and small with a long corridor. Every detail is important to making the film what it is. In conclusion I think the film is very successful. Shyalaman got the balance of confusion and fear right. The camera angles and the way it jolts around from person to person in dramatic scenes works well. I feel this film is a success.
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