Friday, July 15, 2011

Sixth Sense

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The Sixth Sense

By Daniel Empringham

In M. Night Shamalyan The Sixth Sense is a thrilling and provocative movie from beginning to end, and that’s all thanks to the many Hitchcock references in the movie. This movie contains numerous similarities to such classics as Psycho, Rear Window and North by Northeast. The main points in The Sixth Sense that show these the most are the format of the film, the camera shots, the traditions and very deep messages to the audience. M. Night Shamalyan was not only influenced by Alfred Hitchcock but studied him so much that The Sixth Sense is a Hitchcock inspired film.

Right at the start of the movie you can see that Shamalyan was inspired by Alfred the credits are shown at the beginning of the movie, just as Hitchcock did for all his movies. While the credits are being shown at the beginning of the movie suspenseful music is being played just as the composers wrote for Hitchcock. The first shot of the movie is a very simple but yet meaningful shot of a single light bulb hanging in the cold dark basement, just as the first shot in Psycho was of a apartment window but as the shot of the window got closer the story started to unfold, same with The Sixth Sense when you pull back from the light you find that Malcolm’s wife is afraid of the dark and secluded basement. As Malcolm and wife walk upstairs they find that they are not alone, someone is waiting for them in the bathroom this scene is very similar to the scene in Psycho, the fact that someone is never completely safe even in there own house. In the first twenty minutes of the movie is inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

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Bruce Willis is child psychologist showing that he watch’s and observes them from a distance, you see this in the beginning of the film, and this is much like Jimmy Stewart in Rearwindow. Jimmy Stewart’s character and Bruce Willis’ character are also both simple men trying to make the world and humankind a little better, Willis by saving children from there fears and helping them cope with intense feelings; and Jimmy Stewart by solving a murder case from his wheelchair. The strongest correlation between the two pictures is that they both show the main characters past in the beginning of the film. The two films may not share a lot of the same aspects but a lot of the same kind of tracking shots, and camera work. Camera work is very important in this movie, strong close ups of Haley’s character show the troubles and pain he’s going through. Symmetry is very important as well to Shamalyan, you can see this clearly in the scene where Haley comes home from school and saw his mom and Bruce’s character sitting down. Shamalyan is inspired by Hitchcock so much he even rips off the cleverest recurring action in every Hitchcock film he ever made, he appears in the film, M. Night plays the doctor that suspects that Haley’s mom is physically abusing Haley. This shows more then any other example that Shamalyan is directly influenced by Alfred Hitchcock.

The Sixth Sense itself has hidden messages in the movie that recur through the entire film, the messages all have something to do with the colour red. Hitchcock didn’t do this as much but this is definitely an important part of the story. The red figures and images in the film show that what ever is red is a clue or an important part of the film and the red shows anything in the real world that has been tainted by the other world. The red figures include, the women who poisoned the child, she was in red because that was Haley’s first step to make his power in to something good instead of being afraid of it. Haley gets locked in the dungeon during his friend’s birthday party, a red balloon lead him up to the top and he was also wearing a red sweater that lead to the hospital scene where M. Night made an appearance and where Willis’ character started to show signs that he himself was dead. Another key red object is the blanket Willis’ wife wears at the end of the film when he realizes that he has been dead ever since he got shot at the beginning of the film. Red is a key aspect to M. Night Shamalyan’s desire to aspire to Hitchcock’s deep messages in his films.

Shamalyan is directly influenced by Alfred Hitchcock so much that this film was inspired from later Hitchcock films. The film The Sixth Sense is a suspenseful horror movie with a large plot twist at the end, and as well an in-depth look at the meaning of life and the development of the characters. These are all aspects that Hitchcock originated in his films such as Psycho, Rearview, and North by Northeast. The idea of being inspired by a person so much as to redo some of his ideas in your own work is refreshing and original. M. Night Shamalyan did a great job of taking ideas from Hitchcock, and that is why The Sixth Sense did so well at the theatres and with the Academy, but isn’t it a bit ironic that Hitchcock never got an Oscar for any of his work but yet Shamalyan using Hitchcock’s ideas won multiple?

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