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How does the director manipulate the audience in 'the sixth sense?'

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Introduction

How does the director manipulate the feelings and emotions of the audience in 'The Sixth Sense'? The Sixth Sense is an iconic film in today's popular culture of psychological horror thrillers; with the line, 'I see dead people' now being a popular catchphrase. Nominated for six academy awards, and grossing nearly $700,000,000, the film was an immediate success, appealing to a huge audience demographic- its emotional scenes connecting with women, and the horror scenes connecting with teenage boys for example. The film is centred on Dr Malcom Crowe, a child psychologist, and Cole Sear, a nine year old boy whom we discover has the clairvoyant ability to connect with dead people - his "sixth sense". Dr Crowe is shot in the opening scene, by an ex-patient. The outcome of these injuries is not known, but, the scene fades into the next with the sub-title: "The Next Fall" in which we see Dr Crowe, apparently recovered. Ultimately, however, we discover that Dr Crowe died from his wound, but it is only in the final scene that this is revealed. As such, the audience is manipulated throughout the film. This is known as a twist ending, and whilst this can cause an audience to feel cheated, instead, thanks to the scrutiny of the production team, this is not the case. In fact, scenes which the audience could potentially use as evidence that Dr Crowe was still alive, thus limiting the merit of the ending, are used to highlight how the viewer is made to feel a certain emotion, whereas, with hindsight, it could be made to feel something different. ...read more.

Middle

She is putting on a jumper, in response the chilling feeling she felt in the cellar. The mantelpiece shot is much warmer and is in direct contrast to the harsher scene which precedes it. The room is dimly lit by candlelight which suggestions intimacy, and the music is warmer to reflect this. The malicious watcher is not experienced here, but there the audience is still observing, as the camera sweeps past the mantelpiece the viewer is forced to look at the cards with interest and read their titles, rather than just observing them as props and scenery. The couple is reflected in the award, and they are at ease. The reflection in the silver causes their image to be slightly fuzzy and out of focus, again, this makes the scene feel warmer. However, this reflection also poses to the audience the question of how the success of couples is often measured through their social achievement, rather than the actual functionality of them; Mrs. Crowe says, "This is a big day for us", whilst Dr Crowe, the single recipient of this award appears unmoved by it. The next scene I will analyze follows shortly afterwards, it manipulates the audience on a different level to the way described in the opening scenes. The scene opens with a two-shot depicting Lynn Sear (Cole's Mother) whom we have met in an earlier scene, and Dr Crowe. They are sat and appear to have just finished a conversation, and are waiting for Cole to come through the door. ...read more.

Conclusion

In fact, she is sad because her husband is dead. This scene works so well because of the assumptions the audience has made. If the audience was not aware from the first scene that there were potential problems in the marriage, they might not be so easily convinced by this scene and would perhaps predict the ending. The scene fades into darkness when Lynn leaves saying "happy anniversary" to herself. The audience is manipulated into personally interpreting this as bitter resentment, but in actuality, she is heartbroken, and filled with grief. Throughout the film, the director manipulates the audience in a similar style to that of other horror thrillers, but the psychological impact which this film leaves on you is individual and has become characteristic to the director Shyamalan. The plot is simple, yet raises a multitude of personal questions to the reader, and ensures that the viewer leaves the film satisfied and freaked out from their film experience in the short term, but in the long-term leaving asking themselves and those around about issues raised in the film relating to life after death and clairvoyance. This is the final manipulation the director has over the audience, by ensuring that his audience leave the cinema with the issues on their mind and in conversation, he has ensured that the sixth sense is a film which will be watched, enjoyed and studied by many generations. ?? ?? ?? ?? Wil Pate ...read more.

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