The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Buena Vista/Disney - 1999
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 107 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English uncompressed 5.1 PCM, English/French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles:English SDH, French, Spanish, Nederland
Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams
Written & Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Music by: James Newton Howard
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 30, 2008
"Not every gift is a blessing"
Bruce Willis, in an outstanding and restrained performance, is Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a distinguished child psychologist haunted by his failure to help a former patient. When he meets Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a frightened, confused eight-year-old haunted by a profound secret, they begin a suspense-filled journey of discovery. With a riveting intensity you'll find thoroughly chilling and utterly unforgettable, the revelation of Cole's incredible sixth sense leads them both to mysterious and unforeseeable consequences in this powerful supernatural thriller.
When The Sixth Sense was released in theaters back in 1999 I can still remember the hype that surrounded it. One of my co-workers saw it and came back raving about how good it was and what a fantastic performance Haley Joel Osment gave. My wife and I went to see it that weekend. My first viewing of this film wasn't as impressive as I wanted it to be. This was due to the large build up it got and my heightened expectations based upon what I had heard from my co-worker. I find that this happens with movies sometimes. I did like it and thought it was well written and executed. I didn't come to really appreciate it until I saw it for the second time which was on video. There were obvious things that I missed the first time that came into focus then. This is not meant to be a horror film but it's suspenseful and throws in a few pretty decent jump scares. I can remember sitting in the theater and experiencing a moment that for most people didn't amount to much, but nearly made me jump out of my seat. It's the scene in chapter 11 when Cole gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. You can see that he is very reluctant but is about to pee his pants so he ventures out into the darkened hallway to the bathroom. While he is peeing the thermostat reflects a drop in the room temperature. The camera is behind him in the hallway shooting into the bathroom as he stands with his back to the door. At that moment a figure in a pink bathrobe suddenly passes closely in front of the camera which is accompanied by a pronounced and sudden auditory effect. That startled me more than what happened next.
I liked the establishment of the characters and the attention to detail in building their relationships. Cole being the central figure with Malcolm's story being told in short snippets along the way. The connection between Lynn and Cole was important to the story and Syhamalan did a wonderful job in its development both in the writing and the directing. Every scene they had together was incredibly well acted and staged. Shyamalan's play on what the camera saw versus how we as viewers interpreted it was what really made The Sixth Sense work. Haley Joel Osment gave a definitively credible performance which coupled along with his strong onscreen chemistry with both Willis and Toni Collette solidified the cast performances. My favorite Cole/Lynn scene is in the car near the end of the film. It's hard not to be moved as Cole reveals his secret to his mother followed by proving it to her and eventually her reaction. As far as the end goes I have to admit that I didn't figure out what was going on until right before it was clearly obvious. I have seen The Sixth Sense four times now. For me it is a film that I can watch from time to time that still elicits reactions from me. In my opinion it is M. Night Syhamalan's greatest film to date and an excellent thriller.
The rating is for intense thematic material, violent and frightening images that may be inappropriate for younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Sixth Sense comes to Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless uncompressed PCM 5.1 channel audio that has a constant bitrate of 4.6 mbps.
Having seen this theatrically and several times on DVD I feel confident in saying that The Sixth Sense was not designed to look bright with a punchy overly vibrant visual style that would be accentuated in high definition. Many of the set pieces and costumes use color schemes that are less prominent to achieve the director's intended visual style. There are instances where more colorful elements are used to set the mood. An example is during the birthday party sequence. It opens with a shot of the exterior of the house with colorful helium filled balloons floating above the doorway. The interior of the house is brimming with various party related objects that come in a host of well saturated colors that are noticeably vivid. Both Cole and Lynn stand out as he is wearing a crimson sweater and she has on a bright lime green blouse. The blanket used for Cole's makeshift fort in his bedroom is the same crimson red. The interior sequences use soft lighting for the most part and the sun isn't shining during any of the exterior shots. Blacks are deep and not gradationally definable which presents them as somewhat crushed in appearance. This spills over into the perception of shadow detail as well. This is purposefully done to set the mood of the film and from what I remember of its theatrical presentation would appear consistent. In looking at this in high definition it had similar attributes. Colors were more vibrant during the party sequence and images were obviously better resolved and dimensional due to its higher resolution. Contrast was excellent so that light and dark elements onscreen appeared well balanced. In looking at the level of fine detail present I noticed a rather obvious softening during certain segments that seemed consistent with the application of digital noise reduction. This sometimes seemed to change from shot to shot. The first scene when Malcolm is talking with Cole in the church I noticed that a relatively close camera shot of Bruce Willis' face revealed a distinct lack of visible fine detail within his facial features. This is followed by a close up of Haley Joel Osment that appeared appreciably better resolved. I saw the same thing later in chapter 6 as Malcolm is sitting on the couch in Cole's apartment while Cole is playing behind the couch. There were other instances throughout the movie that exhibited the same characteristics. There was grain structure evident but it appeared diminished.
In contrast there were instances where images had better definition and resolute texture. The film's opening scene when Anna goes into the basement to get a bottle of wine. As she peers through openings in the wine rack I could see subtle detail on the surface of her skin, hair and eyebrows. The beginning of chapter 9 before the party there is a shot of the exterior of the house (with the balloons). The rough surface texture of the building's exterior is definable and objects within the shot appear well resolved. This was also the case later in that chapter as Malcolm and Cole talk in the hospital room. Grain was more prominent during darker segments such as the one at the beginning of chapter 11 in Lynn/Cole's apartment just prior to the scene where Cole gets up to use the bathroom. It was visible during lighter scenes as well but was less apparent. I noticed some minor video noise in the background during Chapter 9 as the camera looks down on Darren and Tommy while they talk at the bottom of the stairs during the party. Other than that I didn't note any obvious compression related video anomalies. I can't intelligently comment regarding the decision to use any type of noise reduction/filtering on this encoding so I won't bother. This is not a perfect video presentation however its shortcomings are not detrimental and this film has never looked better on home video.
This is very much a dialogue driven film but its music and sound effects play an integral part in its telling. The surrounds are primarily used for ambience with occasional discrete directional cues sprinkled throughout. I didn't note any appreciably vast differences here when compared to the lossy DTS audio track on the Vista Series DVD release. The front three channels provided excellent imaging, seamless integration of panning effects and well anchored dialogue. This film doesn't make use of deep low bass frequencies but does have dynamic qualities that are consistent with the story's elements and work quite well. I was pleased with this lossless audio presentation and felt that its combination of crystal clear and open sounding dialogue along with its nuance rich clarity helped to augment the already positive attributes present in the soundtrack.
This is the same bonus set that is found on the Vista Series 2 Disc DVD edition. All of the features are offered in standard definition.
- Deleted scenes
- Reflections from the set - Behind the scenes look into M. Night Shyamalan's the creative process
- Between two worlds - A history of Ghosts in Hollywood
- Moving pictures - M. Night Shyamalan and Artist Brick Mason discuss how the use of storyboards impacted the making of the film
- Music and Sound Design - Composer James Newton Howard demonstrates the important role of music/sound effects by running key sequences without them
- Reaching the audience - A discussion of the extraordinary theatrical reception the film had
- Rules and clues - M Night Shyamalan explains the guidelines for creating the narrative of The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture/Director for M. Night Shyamalan and supporting actor for both Osment and Collette. I think that recognition is well deserved all around. It is one of my favorite movies and one that I enjoy re-visiting from time to time. Its debut on Blu-ray Disc may be disappointing to some due to what appears to be some digital noise reduction that was applied to the video which causes a slight softening effect that is noticeable during certain scenes. While that may be the case I didn't feel that it was detrimental to overall image quality and this is certainly the best that I have seen this film look on home video. Fans of the film can feel free to pick this disc up as it offers a perceivable upgrade over the previous standard definition DVD releases as well as inclusion of all bonus features.
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Ralph C. Potts
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The Sixth Sense was nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture/Director for M. Night Shyamalan and supporting actor for both Osment and Collette. I think that recognition is well deserved all around. It is one of my favorite movies and one that I enjoy re-visiting from time to time.
I agree with you 100%. If I remember, the "Academy" didn't give it one. It should have won best picture! Osment should have won best actor and it was clearly the best performance by Willis. No awards. That doesn't surprise me since it had a real religious over tone. Osment's Mother, Collette, should have gotten best supporting actress!
I did not see it in a theater, but it was the first DVD that I could not wait to watch a second time. I spent all night watching that movie. I had family over for the Holidays and they couldn't wait to watch it a second time. I'm not alone.
Ralph, great and honest review, thanks.