The Sixth Sense – Film Essay (100 Level Course)
The director M. Night Shyamalan used different methods to construct the motion picture, “The Sixth Sense”. He uses foreshadowing, symbolism and motif to help you understand the movie and see that it is more than what
you first perceive. In “The Sixth Sense” a boy named Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) is a boy that seems to have a problem. He sees things that other people can’t see; he can also hear things that other people can’t. He can see ghosts, walking among people as if living like nothing ever happened. A Doctor named Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) tries to help Cole with his “problem” until he realizes that Cole is very much similar to Vincent Grey (Donnie Wahlberg) who was a boy that had the exact same symptoms.
In “The Sixth Sense” there is much foreshadowing to tell the person that is watching the picture what will happen next with, but they are only clues, not direct statements that will be easily be given away. There is much foreshadowing used in the picture; in the beginning Vincent Grey breaks into Dr. Malcolm Crowe’s home. Vincent Grey was former student of Crowe’s. Vincent tells him that he had failed him and afterwards Vincent shoots Crowe and himself, but when Crowe gets shot, he gets shot right into the kidney, which is one of the worst places to be shot. The shot was fatal but the audience doesn’t know that, because that was only a flashback, the movie picks up again the next fall and it appears that Crowe is alive. More foreshadowing, for example, is the fact that Cole Sear is the only person to speak to Dr. Malcolm Crowe. Even though Crowe speaks to other people, no one speaks back. Also Dr. Malcolm Crowe was wearing an undershirt, a shirt over it and a coat. And he switches all the time, but accept for those clothes he never wears anything besides that. Another foreshadow is when Cole speaks to Dr. Crowe in the beginning, in the church he spoke Latin. A nine-year-old kid normally doesn’t know Latin. And it is said that evil spirits cannot go on holy ground, and when a priest dies his spirit remains in the church and since Cole Sear can talk to the ghosts, and since priests used to speak Latin they taught him how to. Also when Dr. Crowe is looking for Cole, he asks if Dr. Crowe would like to join the army, and states a regiment number that a nine year old boy would never know. In the movie when Cole Sear tells Dr. Crowe his secret that he can see “Dead People” the camera zooms in on Dr. Crowe sort of implying that he is dead. Last, near the middle of the movie Cole tells Dr. Crowe not to fail him, which is foreshadowing that Vincent Grey had the same strange powers as Cole Sear.
M. Night Shyamalan uses symbolism in this motion picture to give it an eerie atmosphere. The names of most of the characters are symbolic, they relate to things that are dark and may reflect to the personality of the person. For example, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, his last name is Crowe like a crow, which is the symbol of evil or dark, dead things, and in the end he is dead. Cole’s name is symbolic because of Cole, which is like cold which is what happens when ghosts get angry; Sear his last name is symbolic because it is like the word seer which is a person that is a visionary or someone that can see things that others can’t, like Cole. Vincent’s name is symbolic because his name is the same as the famous Vincent Van Gogh, a painter that was insane and ended up shooting himself like Vincent Grey; Grey is symbolic because grey is the color of being in between, it’s the color of neither black or white, being in the middle of two worlds as Vincent Grey was.
Last, in “The Sixth Sense” M. Night Shyamalan uses motif to explain extreme emotional distress that can be damaging so someone. Red is a big significance in the movie because when something in the real world is about to go horribly wrong you see red. When something frightening is about to happen somewhere on the screen you see red. Another example of motif is the white hair on the back of Vincent and Cole’s heads, because some hair on trauma victims goes white. Last whenever the ghosts become very angry the area around them becomes cold and you know something is wrong.
Using foreshadowing, symbolism and motif people are able to figure out the ending of the movie before it ends. Dr. Malcolm Crowe has been dead for the entire movie, accept the first five minutes, and Cole Sear is able to deal with his problems. Dr. Crowe came to Cole to help him with his problem with being afraid of ghosts, but Cole also helped Dr. Crowe by helping move on. When Dr. Crowe spoke to his wife while she was sleeping he was able to figure out what he had to do to let go from the real world, and his wife’s life would be changed.