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The Sixth Sense

Release date: August 06, 1999
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall
Running time: 107 minutes

Dr. Malcom Crowe (Bruce Willis), a successful child psychologist, takes on the task of curing a young boy, Cole (Haley Joel Osment), who is increasingly scared by the view of dead people around him that no one else can see. Cole's overwrought single mother Lynn (Toni Collette) is at her wit's end with what to do about her son's increasing problems. Crowe spends a lot of time with the boy and his unwanted visitors, much to the dismay of his wife (Olivia Williams). But Malcolm is the boy's only hope, and is finally let in on Cole's secret.

Cast & Characters

Bruce Willis (Dr. Malcolm Crowe), Haley Joel Osment (Cole Sear), Toni Collette (Lynn Sear), Olivia Williams (Anna Crowe), Donnie Wahlberg (Vincent Grey), Trevor Morgan (Tommy), Peter Anthony Tambakis (Darren), Jeffrey Zubernis (Bobby), Bruce Norris (Stanley Cunningham), Glenn Fitzgerald (Sean), Greg Wood (Mr. Collins), Mischa Barton (Kyra Collins), Angelica Page (Mrs. Collins)

Production Notes

“The Sixth Sense” isn’t a thriller in the modern sense, but more of a ghost story of the sort that flourished years ago, when ordinary people glimpsed hidden dimensions. It has long been believed that children are better than adults at seeing ghosts; the barriers of skepticism and disbelief are not yet in place. Budding director M. Night Shyamalan, an NYU graduate, partnered with Disney after receiving acclaim for his work with “Wide Awake” and the screenplay for “Stuart Little”. The tone of “The Sixth Sense” set a different tone for a Disney film, however. Nevertheless, Shyamalan was given free hand by producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy for the casting of Bruce Willis, whom Shyamalan had in mind while writing “The Sixth Sense”, as well as the casting of Toni Collette as the mother, because he was “a huge fan of Muriel’s Wedding”.

I picked up the script in the middle of the night and was riveted, I was so moved, I cried. Bruce was great, very generous and pleasant. I don’t know what it must be like living at that level where so many people are aware of who you are and you represent something to them. (Toni Collette, The Los Angeles Times, October 1999)

Collette was not the only one in the running for the role. Marisa Tomei was another, but there were others, and they had higher profiles – as well as being 10 years older than Collette, who was 27 at the time of filming. So scoring the role was a success for Collette on another level “It means people don’t so easily pigeon hole me and so it opens a greater range of roles – which for an actor is perfect.” And of the young Haley Joel Osment, who plays her son, Collette simply says, “Extraordinary – he’s not like a child actor at all, but like a seasoned pro.” Eventually, it was Osment who emerged as the film’s biggest star upon its theatrical opening, which was hailed by critics and audiences alike. The New Yorker called it “a delicate, emotionally attentive, but very scary ghost story”. The Washington Post wrote, “The movie is a maximum creep-out. It’s invasive. It’s like an enema to the soul as it probes the ways of death – some especially grotesque in a family setting. You leave slightly asquirm. You know it will linger. It becomes a clammy, chilly movie building toward a revelation that you cannot predict.”

“The Sixth Sense” stayed at number 1 at the U.S. box office for five weeks and was rented by 80 million people in 2000 – making it the year’s top-rated tape and DVD title. In 2000, it received 6 Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Picture, Best Director (M. Night Shyamalan), Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment), Best Supporting Actress (Toni Collette), Best Screenplay (M. Night Shyamalan) and Best Film Editing (Andrew Mondshein). While it walked away empty-handed, “The Sixth Sense” will stay in people’s minds for Cole’s confession, which became a modern catchphrase: I see dead people.

Awards & Nominations

  Blockbuster Entertainment Award – Best Supporting Actress
☆   Academy Award – Best Supporting Actress
☆   Chlotrudis Award – Best Supporting Actress
☆   Golden Satellite Award – Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Drama