“Through close analysis of the restaurant scene and the scene where Dr Crowe is in the house with both Cole and his mother, discuss the techniques used to make the audience believe that Dr Crowe is alive”In my analysis of the two selected scenes from ‘The Sixth Sense’ I am going to be discussing the many shrewd techniques that are used to disguise the concealed revelation exposed at the end of the film where both Dr Crowe and the audience discover that Dr Crowe is in fact dead.Dr Crowe acts as the therapist to troubled child Cole and throughout the film the two develop a close friendship as Dr Crowe attempts to understand and cure Cole. Dr Crowe has an almost peculiar fixation with Cole, isolating himself from his wife by letting his work take over his life. However, the audience begins to understand Dr Crowe’s obsession with Cole as a correlation is established between Cole and a previous patient, Vincent, whom Dr Crowe could not help. A resentful Vincent finds Dr Crowe, full of anger, and shoots him on the night he receives a prestigious award for his work as a child psychologist. Despite the fact that Dr Crowe died when he was shot, the film implies that death needs closure and in Dr Crowe’s case closure means curing Cole.The two scenes that I am going to be analyising are ‘The Restaurant Scene’ and ‘The scene where Dr Crowe is in the house with both Cole and his mother’.
In both of these scenes the audience are mislead into believing that Dr Crowe is alive and that Anna, Dr Crowe’s wife, and Cole’s mother can see and talk to him. There are four main components that make the two scenes so convincing; the dialogue used, the body language between characters, the framing and camera shots and the ambiguous quality of the actors.The first scene shows Dr Crowe and Cole’s mother sat in two armchairs facing each other. The scene is set in wide shot framing the two chairs with the front door in the centre of the screen, therefore the centre of the focus.
Dr Crowe and Cole’s mother are sat in silence at the beginning of the scene. It appears that they have been having a conversation, presumably about Cole, and are thinking about what has been said. Cole’s mother seems to be vaguely incensed by Dr Crowe’s presence; the audience assumes that she dislikes the fact that her son needs a psychologist and is in denial about his problems.The front door opens and Cole comes in, turning immediately before seeing Dr Crowe and his mother. After he has removed his key from the door he turns to see Dr Crowe sat in one of the armchairs. Cole somewhat taken aback but ignores Dr Crowe and addresses his mother.The camera focuses on Cole and his mother, who is now knelt down next to him by the front door.
She takes his red school blazer and his school bag and engages him in a game where they share their fantasies for what happened that day.Neither of them acknowledges Dr Crowe. The camera focuses on him, still sat in the armchair, feigning nonchalance but presumably making mental notes on the relationship between Cole and his mother.The camera returns to Cole and his mother as she gets up to go and make pancakes. As she walks away from Cole she momentarily looks into the sitting room whilst saying ‘You’ve got an hour’. Her voice is contemptuous and she seems to be addressing Dr Crowe. This reinforces the audience’s belief that Cole’s mother dislikes Dr Crowe’s presence and is almost warning him to be kind to Cole.
Once Cole’s mother has left the room Cole does not speak to Dr Crowe but allows him to ask him questions, either nodding or shaking his head in response. He appears to be fearful of Dr Crowe, unwilling to help Dr Crowe begin to understand and diagnose his problems. When he does finally start to talk to Dr Crowe his answers are barely audible as if Cole is scared to voice them.On a second viewing, the first scene re-moulds into an utterly different story. Once the audience becomes aware that Dr Crowe is a ghost it almost makes the audience feel foolish when re-watching the scene because what is going on becomes so patently obvious. The audience searches for flaws and inconstancies between Dr Crowe and Cole’s mother but it is impossible to find any, the scene is so meticulously constructed.The opening shot shows the two chairs positioned opposite each other, Cole’s mother sat in one, Dr Crowe in the other. On a first viewing there is an uncomfortable amount of tension between the two characters, it appears that the two have been talking and that Cole’s mother is scrutinizing Dr Crowe.
However, when the audience watches again it all traces of tension are eradicated and the scene becomes a lot more comfortable. It becomes apparent that there is no connection between Dr Crowe and Cole’s mother, and that she is sat very much alone, ostensibly mulling over her thoughts, possibly about her son.When Cole returns home he sees Dr Crowe and momentarily looses his composure.
In spite of this he quickly recovers from the shock of seeing Dr Crowe sat in his sitting room with his mother and acts as though everything is normal towards his mother. Having the benefit of hindsight, the audience understands that Cole doesn’t want his mother to hear him talking to Dr Crowe, as he is anxious that she doesn’t know he can talk and see ghosts. Cole doesn’t want to jeopardize the relationship between him and his mother, believing that she will think he is a ‘freak’ if she knows he can see and talk to ghosts, so he conceals it from her and acts as though he cannot see Dr Crowe.On first viewing the audience mistakes Cole’s reluctance to answer questions after his mother has left the room as shyness. However, it is unmistakable in the second scene that Cole does not want his mother to hear him talking to Dr Crowe.
Cole also seems to be angry at himself for being able to talk to dead people and does not want to befriend Dr Crowe. This is an example of how the ambiguity of the script and the acting completely deludes the audience. The scene is masterfully created, integrating two different stories into one scene.
The actors must be convincing before and after the audience know that Dr Crowe is dead. Therefore, their acting must be adaptable and believable in both scenes. The same applies to their motives and behaviour, each scene has to establish a way for the characters to behave and this is determined by their motive. For example, Cole’s motive is to act as though he does not know that Dr Crowe is in the room, his behaviour in the first viewing must reflect this and he acts as though he does not want to talk to Dr Crowe because he does not want to admit he has a problem.
On second viewing the motive affects his behaviour in different way; he does not acknowledge Dr Crowe because he does not want his mother to know that he can see ghosts. For the scene to work perfectly the motive must remain the same, this gives the scene a ‘butterfly effect’ quality, allowing it to be affected by the audience knowing whether Dr Crowe is dead or alive.The second scene that I am analyising is ‘The Restaurant Scene’ in which Dr Crowe meets his wife at a restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. The scene opens with an over-the-shoulder shot of Dr Crowe’s wife, Anna, sat alone at a table for two, wearing a crimson dress. We watch her sitting alone for a minute before Dr Crowe comes into the vicinity, wearing his coat.
He walks over to Anna and, despite the fact that we cannot see her; she does not greet him or even raise her head to look at him. Dr Crowe attempts to make a joke whilst apologizing for his lateness. Anna does not laugh or accept his apology and, sighing, Dr Crowe takes a seat. The audience assumes that Anna’s aloofness with her husband is because she is angry at his late arrival on their anniversary.Dr Crowe, apparently endeavoring to make conversation begins to talk about Cole. Anna is still being shot over-the-shoulder; the audience has not yet seen her face and does not know where she is directing her gaze. Dr Crowe talks about the similarities between Cole and Vincent, once again engulfing himself with his work and all the while, Anna says nothing. The camera pans, cutting Anna out of the frame completely, focusing upon Dr Crowe so it appears that he is talking to himself about Cole.
This illustrates how self-immersed and insensitive Dr Crowe is to his wives feelings. Dr Crowe directs no conversation at Anna; he does not ask her any questions or attempt to engage her in conversation. Anna does not interrupt Dr Crowe; the audience interprets her silence as bitter resentment.Dr Crowe’s thoughts are interrupted by the bill coming, the waitress puts the bill down on the table and Dr Crowe reaches out to take it. Anna also reaches out for the bill and slides it from beneath his hand before he gets the chance to touch it. She signs the bill quickly and silently whilst hovering over the table, then, taking one last look at Dr Crowe whilst sardonically muttering ‘Happy Anniversary’ before leaving the restaurant. Both Dr Crowe and the audience are recognize that Anna is exasperated by Dr Crowe’s behaviour and construe her silence is to ignore him.When the audience views the scene a second time, once again an entirely different story is deciphered.
The first scene explores movement and the way that the characters relate to one another to dupe the audience into believing that Dr Crowe is alive and visible to both characters, whereas the second scene uses camera angles and what remains unsaid to create the illusion of Dr Crowe’s existence. The motive that is created in the second scene is Dr Crowe’s late arrival. If Dr Crowe had not given Anna a reason to be angry at him then the audience would’ve questioned her silence and would have picked it out as a flaw in the second viewing. However, it is another resourceful characteristic of the story that makes it so immaculate and convincing on second viewing.The scene opens with Anna’s back to the camera, wearing a crimson dress; similarly, in the first scene Cole is wearing a red blazer. Both of these red garments symbolize the presence of a ghost who is Dr Crowe. We don’t see Anna’s face when Dr Crowe enters, a perfect example of how the camera angle is used to the fool the audience.
Naturally, the audience assumes that Anna’s eyes are on Dr Crowe but after re-watching the audience becomes conscious of the fact that her eyes could be anywhere. When Dr Crowe apologizes for his lateness Anna doesn’t respond. On second viewing the audience recognizes that Anna cannot respond because to her Dr Crowe is invisible.
When he turns to sit down he does not move the chair but slides himself into it, another precise detail that adds consistency to the scene. When he is seated he doesn’t ask Anna any questions and does not attempt to stimulate two-way conversation. Even though in first viewing the audience can understand her reasons for ignoring him, direct questions are harder to disregard and by launching into a speech about his work it creates an even better reason for Anna to ignore him. Seeing Anna having a reason to be angry at her husband is the motive of the scene, the more factors contributing towards this motive, the more persuasive the scene will be. It is important that the camera is focused on Dr Crowe as much as possible for the second scene to conceal the fact that Anna may be look sad instead of angry and to obscure the detail that her eyes may not be fixed upon Dr Crowe. Shyamalan obscurely forces Anna out of the frame before the audience even realizes, leaving Dr Crowe the centre of attention. The scene becomes a way for Dr Crowe to gather his thoughts and update the audience on his opinions about Cole and his problems. On a second viewing, the scene is very much about the relationship between Dr Crowe and his wife.
When the bill arrives and Dr Crowe attempts to take it, it is only appropriate that Anna must reach it first so that the rule that ghosts cannot touch material object remains accurate. Anna signs the bill quickly and before leaving whispers ‘Happy Anniversary’ Here Olivia William’s (Anna) acting is deliberately ambiguous. On first viewing the audience logically assumes that Anna is talking to Dr Crowe, in a mocking way. However, on a second viewing, the depth of Anna’s sadness becomes more obvious.
The audience mistakes Anna’s heartbroken desire to relive the days when her husband was alive for anger at his late arrival to the restaurant.After having discussed and analyzed ‘The Restaurant Scene’ and ‘The scene where Dr Crowe is in the house with both Cole and his mother’ I feel as though I have begun to unravel the many layers to the Sixth Sense. Despite the fact that for near the entirety of the film the audience believes that it is a standard horror film, something rather more stunning is revealed when the audience discovers that Dr Crowe is dead.
The perfection and plausibility of the film could never have been achieved without the technical and dramatic techniques that have been used throughout the whole film and particularly the two scenes I have studied. I don’t think that I’ve ever accredited the enormous impact that the camera angles and the way that the set is assembled effect a scene; The Sixth Sense definitely provides an impeccable example of how successfully it can help to define a story. It is one of those rare films that maintains the ability to be watched more than once and feel as though you are watching an entirely different film.
The film offers a balance of adept acting, shrewd scripting and astute camera shots that fool the audience into believing that Dr Crowe is alive.