jacq’s blog

jacq’s blog

The Sixth Sense: “…I See Dead People” April 9, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — jacquelined @ 6:14 pm

For my scene analysis I chose to review The Sixth Sense. I thought this was a perfect choice for this assignment mainly because I can still remember being fascinated by the symbolism in the movie the first time that I saw it. This was the first movie that I had ever seen that blew my mind and really made me think about all the scenes throughout the movie. The director, M. Night Shyamalan, uses color, line repetition, and visual effects to demonstrate pivotal ideas throughout the film. Needless to say, this movie is one of my favorites. Each time I watch it I feel as though I pick up something new. The symbolism seen throughout the film is well thought out and makes viewing it each time more enjoyable and interesting than the last!



Here is the clip I chose. It is 3 minutes and 7 seconds long. Watch it!~ ūüôā

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The cast in the film includes Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, and Toni Collette.¬† The scene I picked is when the young social outcast boy, Cole, attended a peer’s birthday party. While at the party, Cole sees a red balloon and deserts the party to follow it in the house. He follows it up a winding staircase and is led to a small room where there are voices.

If you are not into watching the included clip, this image that I am providing will help jog your memories for those of you that have seen the film!



I really liked this scene because it really had me engaged in the film! I remember being so scared for the little boy. It was a very intense scene and was very memorable for me!

First of all,¬†the scene shows a small, innocent character that I had come to love sitting outside the party as a social outcast. A red balloon catches his eye and ascends up a spiral staircase. He starts to go after it and¬† deserts the cheery, loud noise of the crowd coming from the birthday party. The distinct contrast in noise served to increase the “scary” effect. It made it clear that the young boy was on his own. My mind kept telling the boy not to follow the balloon!

As Cole,a character wearing a red sweater, is going up the staircase, his shadow on the wall is made visible. As he is pursuing the red balloon, he starts to hear a pleading, angry, masculine voice. He stops and seems scared and hesitant. He starts to creep up the staircase slowly.

The film then jumps to two small boys at the bottom of the staircase talking about Cole very meanly. They are devising a mean trick to play on him.

The film then jumps to Cole again breathing hard looking intently at an area of which the voice is coming from. Two shadows encroach behind him which belong to the two peers. Cole turns around and tells one of them happy birthday. The boys tell Cole they want to play a pretend play called “Locked in the Dungeon.” The boys grab hold of Cole and throw him in the small closet are with the voice. Cole begins screaming and his mom rushes to his side only to find him out of breath and beaten.

The first time I saw this, I was shocked at the heartless behavior of the mean little boys. I was also impressed by the warm love of the mother ane her heartfelt concern for her little boy. 


Here are a few technical things I noticed about this scene. For one, the voice that Cole was hearing was clearly a voice-over.

There is a high-angle shot of Cole when he is looking at the door with voices coming from it.

There is a decelerated motion shot of when Cole’s mom takes Cole’s seemingly lifeless body from the small room.

There is a two-shot in the scene in which the two boys are talking to Cole.

Low key lighting¬†is used in the shot.¬† I don’t think the director could have established such an eerie mood if it were not for this lighting.

 The spiral staircase serve as graphic vectors that lead our eye up toward the small room and/or balloon. 

 The signifier is the color red.  The signified is the presence of ghosts. 


¬†The movie¬†takes place¬†during the 90s. However, there are many other¬†historical references in the movie. For example, Cole’s teacher is history teacher. Looking over links¬†online, I¬†found¬†some things interesting.¬†For example, look at this scene:


Needless to say, history is a very important component to this film. I especially remember the scene at the end of the movie in which Cole sees dead people hanging in the schoolhouse. Earlier in the movie, Cole told argued with his teacher that the school used to be a place where hangings took place. Being a typical ghost movie, this film is full of symbolism relating back to history.

Ethical, Cultural, Critical

One¬†ethical¬†issue addressed¬†in the film¬†is how people treated Cole,¬†a “freak.”¬†His peers were incredibly heartless toward him and even his mother had her doubts about her¬†son.¬†The film shows the aftermath of meanness on children for being different. As you can recall, in the beginning of the movie there was one of Bruce Willis’ character’s old clients¬†all grown up disstressed and ready to commit suicide. I think the film did a great job of showing the importance of The Golden Rule. It shows how everyone should treat one another the way he/she would want to be treated.

 The culture shown in this film is that of the American culture. Psychiatry, birthday parties, and school plays are all popular in the United States.

In addition: 

Here are some other intersting symbolism in the film I thought I would include for your entertainment:

-The names of the character’s are not at all by coincidence. Crowe = crow, traditionally a familiar of the dead; Sear = seer, as in someone with supernatural¬†vision.

-The plot takes place during the fall which is the time of the dead.

-Notice the doorknobs and how he never really touches them!

Great movie—-I suggest you watch it!!!!!! ūüôā


6 Responses to “The Sixth Sense: “…I See Dead People””

  1. taucerd Says:

    I agree I thought that it was an awesome movie. That M. Night Shamylynanapoo guy ruined his career afterwards though with movies such as Lady in the Water and The Village. He has yet to make a film comparable to the caliber of greatness 6th sense was. I believe that anything can happen, as well as seeing or hearing ghosts…do you believe in ghosts, hmm?

  2. andyperkins Says:

    Very good analysis. You did a good job finding the symbolism. Good choice of movie too–there is a lot to dig out of that movie.

  3. silviav87 Says:

    You did a really good job analyzing the scene and I liked how your personal view was so in depth. Also, it’s pretty cool how you added the names of the characters at the bottom of your post and included what they meant because I always think it’s interesting how the writers go about choosing the names for their characters. And I’m not sure if you mentioned it or not, but do you think there is significance in the color of his sweater and the red rug that layered the stairs?

  4. nathangreenside Says:

    I really liked this movie, as I said in my blog I love movies with good endings and this movie had a great surprise ending. I think you did a really good job of analyzing the overall build up and feeling of the scene. I also like the descriptions of the symbolism you found in the film. Great job!

  5. journalist2 Says:

    I have never seen the movie, but as a scary movie fanatic, I think I might rent it. The clip you choose was very louring, it left me wanting more of the movie. I did notice, just from the two minute clip, that red was a very significant color in the movie. Red is a power color, (the red carpet, red police lights… etc.) The red balloon leading up to the stairway was obviously used to grab the attention of Cole. Red is a take action color, and that is why it was so appealing to follow. I think that if another color balloon was used, Cole would not have been seduced to go upstairs. As you stated, the signifier is red and the signified could be anything from ghosts to a fast heartbeat. Another interesting thing about Cole’s red shirt is that the psychological analysis of red clothing is that it might not help people in confrontations, obviously in which Cole was in.

  6. Kimberly Bakotich Says:

    Wow, the difference is shocking between these two women. These pictures do a great job of displaying the more risky nature of American women to the very conservative Arabic women. However, I do not believe we can decide to say what is better…dependent upon cultural norms is how society tends to judge others. I respect women who honor their bodies and figures to uphold their traditional norms. However, in America I don’t believe it to be a religious tradition to show more skin, rather more an individualistic and freedom statement by more exposition.

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