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The Sixth Sense(1999)
Dr. Malcolm Crowe is a successful child psychologist in Philadelphia. The night he receives an award for his achievements, a former patient breaks into his house and kills himself. Drenched in guilt, the doctor comes to the aid of a tormented lad who can see ghosts. While making his analysis of the troubled boy, he discovers something that is not only fascinating, but could also be very dangerous.
For more about The Sixth Sense and the The Sixth Sense Blu-ray release, see the The Sixth Sense Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 16, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Trevor Morgan
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
» See full cast & crew
The Sixth Sense Blu-ray Review
Common sense says to make this disc a permanent part of your Blu-ray collection.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 16, 2008
Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord.
There's the quotable one liner ("Don't disturb my friend, he's dead tired") and then there are those lines that become a part of the lexicon. Few films in the storied history of cinema can boast one single line of dialogue that has become completely ingrained into culture, where the mere mention of the line recalls not just an actor, a director, a scene, or even a film, but conjures up a philosophy or a way of life, or lends itself to many pertinent issues and discussions across a broad range of topics. Among the most well-known are, "There's no place like home," as delivered by Dorothy in 1939's The Wizard of Oz; "Here's lookin' at you, kid," from the 1942 treasure Casablanca; "Show me the money!" from 1996's Jerry Maguire; Jack Nicholson's famed, "You can't handle the truth!" from 1992's A Few Good Men; and perhaps the most recognized and utilized line in all of cinema history from a 1994 film, a short, sweet, and simple philosophy that would make the ancient Greeks proud, Forrest Gump's "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Director M. Night Shyamalan's (Signs) debut film, The Sixth Sense, itself offers a simple sentence that has come to embody the film, a director, a style, and a means of communicating about the unknown, the frightening, the unusual. "I see dead people," delivered powerfully by young actor Haley Joel Osment (Artificial Intelligence: AI), is the film's trademark line, a powerful announcement that eloquently yet simply embraces a concept and tells a complete story, and is one that has become a part of the everyday lexicon of film lovers and casual viewers alike. While "I see dead people" is the literal theme of the picture, it may also be seen as a metaphor for many individuals in the film and in the audience, speaking for those who are figuratively dead, such as the patient Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis, Unbreakable) encounters at the beginning of the film, or for anyone who may relate to the story of lost and not-fully-realized love, which is a running theme throughout the picture.
Dr. Malcolm Crowe is a renowned child therapist who is confronted and shot by one of his former patients, Vincent Grey (Donnie Whalberg, Saw IV). The following fall, seemingly recovered from his wounds, Crowe begins working with a disturbed young boy by the name of Cole Sear (Osment) who is ostracized at school, comes from a broken family, and suffers from acute anxiety. As their relationship grows, Cole reveals to Dr. Crowe his lifelong secret -- he sees dead people. They are everywhere, he explains, seeing only what they choose to see, and they certainly do not see one another. It is these visions, the maddening, horrifying images that plague Cole's world, that are the root cause of his problems. Meanwhile, Malcolm must deal with an ever-growing chasm between himself and his wife Anna (Olivia Williams, To Kill A King).
Watched in proper context, The Sixth Sense is an emotionally draining film. It's the story of love lost and may be viewed as a metaphor for the importance of embracing life, the ones you love, and the power of the spirit both in life and in death. The story arc between Malcolm and Anna plays out as a secondary one in the context of the screen time offered to the story, but their relationship is the driving force behind the plot. Malcolm's interaction with Cole allows him not to see what Cole himself sees, but to see what Cole sees in Malcolm, as he slowly comes to realize his fate and correct the errors of his past. The story, for all its twists and turns, ends in a shocking realization, but the realization allows for both Malcolm and Anna to move on in peace and love as the events depicted throughout the film are finalized and accepted by both individuals. The sadness of the film, of the love lost between the characters, is obvious throughout, and brilliantly connected to the primary story of the film and tied in with the revelation that comes at film's end. Anna's sadness is well-conveyed in every shot in which she appears. Each frame offers a subtle hint to the film's climax, and, as such, each hint is so well-integrated into the frame that the first-time viewer will likely gloss over them, assigning to them only tertiary importance as extraneous objects. It seems to be these objects -- several used tissues, for example -- that truly tell the tale and reveal as much to the audience about the story and its arc as does the final, blunt revelation.
It is the way that director M. Night Shyamalan effortlessly unravels a complex plot through subtle touches to every frame that is the true revelation in the film. He expertly reveals two major plot devices that come as surprises to first time viewers, doing so in his own time, never forcing the pace, but allowing the film's nuanced approach do the storytelling instead. The first secret is revealed only halfway through the film, and the other not until the final moments of the picture. Despite no real focus over the course of the first half of the film, only that of the set-up and development of a doctor and a patient, the film never feels dull or slow, and certainly never meanders despite its exceptionally long establishing exposition. The film remains focused on the prize, reveling in its cleverness, slowly unraveling context clues from character names (Cole's last name, Sear, is a homonym for "seer," a person with exceptional insight into future or otherworldly events) to the cold temperatures signifying the presence of something out of the ordinary. It is through these subtle suggestions scattered throughout the film that make it infinitely re-watchable and also what make the film one of the most expertly crafted films to date.
The Sixth Sense Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition and in its 1.85:1 original aspect ratio, The Sixth Sense does not offer the sort of material that will be used to sell home theater displays, but its strength lies in its simplicity. This Blu-ray edition presents the film well, reveling in the somewhat obscure nature of the presentation that is often shadowy or less-than-ideally lit, but coming off as very natural in appearance thanks to the increased resolution Blu-ray offers over previous standard definition releases. Detail is mostly excellent, rich and lifelike. The interior of the Sear home, in the scene depicted in chapter 5, is fairly pedestrian but offers a lifelike, lived-in look and feel. In chapter 6, an exterior shot featuring Malcolm and Cole walking down a tree-lined, brick-laden sidewalk after a rainstorm offers one of the best looking moments of the film, with lush greens contrasting nicely with the red-bricked sidewalk. Ity is one of the few moments in the film where bright, bold colors stand out over what is mostly a dim film. The detail and depth here is exceptional, and the texture of the bricks and the wet pavement on the road looks fine. The image remains generally sharp, but the drab tone of the film allows for it to take on a slightly softer appearance, and it lends to the film a decent theatrical feel. There is some noise over portions of the image, particularly over dark portions of the frame, but black levels never miss a beat. Flesh tones never tend to wander too far away from natural. The Sixth Sense is presented well on Blu-ray, true to its source and remaining consistent throughout the presentation.
The Sixth Sense Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disney piques the sense of hearing with a PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack. The film is drama-oriented, with no whiz-bang sound effects, and this mix is properly reserved yet finely detailed within the confines of its music, dialogue, and effects. The sound system reproduces excellent minor ambience all around; the sounds of sirens or wind slightly blowing in the background, as well as other audio delights listeners might expect to hear in a bustling city, bring the film to life. Sound effects are well-prioritized if not a bit louder than is to be expected, and the film's score spreads nicely across the front. The film relies on the sound as an extension of the story, as a supporting cast member, in a way, and as such its presence isn't always front-and-center. Never once in the movie, even during some of the louder sequences, such as when Cole is trapped in a small cubby hole, do the sound effects become overbearing or the focus of the scene. They remain clear and distinct, but don't necessarily grab the attention away from the visuals. In that regard, the soundtrack does its job to perfection throughout the movie. The PCM track offers richly delivered and precisely focused dialogue that drives the movie, but also renders James Newton Howard's (The Dark Knight) score with great fidelity. The Sixth Sense provides a strong listen in the confines of what listeners are intended to hear, and once again, Disney delivers a fine track that doesn't disappoint.
The Sixth Sense Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Sixth Sense reveals some of its secrets through the inclusion of various supplemental materials. Reflections From the Set (480p, 39:14) features the primary cast members -- Willis, Osment, Collette, Williams, and Wahlberg -- along with director M. Night Shyamalan, for a closer look at the making of the film. Shaymalan begins the feature by discussing the generic nature of his original draft for the film, and the continued search for finding even one line of material that worked. Shaymalan's insight is the most valuable and interesting, with the cast members supporting his comments but also offering their own insight into the themes of the picture, their character arcs, and in the case of Donnie Wahlberg, the physical and emotional toll of playing in the film. His comments are eye-opening, and in a way inspiring, as he recounts his journey to portray a character with minimal screen time but one that serves as the catalyst for the film. His dedication to his craft is evident both in the film and in this feature, and his segment is far-and-away the best in what is an excellent piece overall.
Between Two Worlds (480p, 37:21) is a lengthy examination of the supernatural featuring noted writer William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist) and various other authorities on the subject. The piece first looks at ghost stories as told in film, beginning with a glimpse at the films Ghost and Praying With Anger, and moving on to director Shyamalan discussing his research on ghosts and the paranormal. These participants share their own stories of paranormal encounters, the purpose ghosts serve, and more. Moving Pictures: The Storyboard Process (480p, 14:52) is an in-depth look at M. Night Shyamalan's attention to detail in the story boarding process. Music and Sound Design (480p, 6:38) features Shaymalan and composer James Newton Howard sharing their insights into the film's powerful score and unique sound effects. Next is Reaching the Audience (480p, 3:31), a brief feature that showcases various cast and crew members discussing the film's open at theaters, the make-up of the audience it attracted, and more. Rules and Clues (480p, 5:59) examines the various guiding elements of the story and various aspects of the film that hint to its surprising ending. Next is a series of three deleted scenes and an alternate ending, both coupled with an introduction from director M. Night Shyamalan. The pieces are presented in 480p standard definition and run a combined 14:55. Concluding this package is the film's theatrical trailer (480p, 2:18) and two television spots (480p, 0:31 and 0:17).
The Sixth Sense Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Sixth Sense is a product of reserved filmmaking in every facet. Its story is slowly but surely unraveled with nearly unprecedented attention to every small detail to ensure faithfulness to the film's climactic and disturbing reveal in the final frames. Its imagery is generally dull and uninteresting, and its sound design somewhat pedestrian. Nevertheless, it all comes together to weave a tale of many underlying themes that are supported by a primary story that is poignant and timeless, a tale of love and the importance of life and the spirit both now and forevermore. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, whose next two films are as equally engaging, and arguably more so, The Sixth Sense is the work of a master filmmaker and one of the finest storytellers of this generation. Disney presents The Sixth Sense on Blu-ray in a solid package. Featuring faithful-to-the-source audio and video and providing an excellent selection of bonus materials, this package is a worthy addition to any film library. Highly recommended.
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