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The Sixth Sense Argumentative

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The film The Sixth Sense, directed by M. Night Shyamalan was released August 6th, 1999.  The director of photography is Tak Fujimoto, and the production designer is Larry Fulton.  In this film, the director chose to tell the main story by using a series of both editing and mise en scene.  The mise en scene is used when the director wants to give an impression of the characters or the situation without having the characters articulating it through the framework of spoken dialogue, and typically does not represent a realistic setting.

One of the most dramatic scenes in the film is when Cole states, “I see dead people,” and the camera pans immediately towards Willis’ face.  The camera slowly zooms in on his face, as if he is taking in the words that Cole has just spoken.

The shots that Shyamalan chooses help to carry the action from scene to scene.  The tone of the movie is directly influenced by the lighting used.  For example, when the characters are outside, the sun is rarely shining.  The weather is always dark.  Even indoors, the lighting used is never bright, leading to a dark mood.

The narrative information, however, is most often conveyed through the dialogue.  Sometimes, the movie progresses through the surprising still frames the director introduces in the middle of these scenes.  This is done by the camera movement.  For example, in one scene, Bruce Willis’ character is standing with the young boy.  They converse, and immediately the audience sees a shot of three hanging dead bodies.  This is done for the surprise element, but it is also an excellent example of how the narrative can be moved along simply by using these still shots.

The perceiver of the sign (the audience) is almost always surprised by these elements.  All of these signs and elements go together to help the audience see further meaning.  Shyamalan’s directing style is very direct, almost always bringing the audience’s perceptions away from what one would expect.  This reception by the audience is what actually holds all of the directing and its subsequent elements together (including the relationship between the dramatist, director, designer, actor, musicians, and the technicians.)

The deeper meaning behind what is literally taking place within a movie or a play is perhaps the most important. This also directly relates to the symbolism that is used.  Within the movie The Sixth Sense, the color red is used. When the main characters are in the presence of the dead, this color will appear in some form.  For example, when Cole is going to the birthday party, he is wearing a red sweater.  In addition, a red balloon appears.  The doorknob to the locked closet is also red.  The color red is said to be an evil color, as well as being associated with any form of supernatural activity.

All of these areas directly coincide with the larger, more general idea of mise en scene.  Depending on the director of photographer and the director, the way that these ideas are grouped together is how the movie itself is set up.

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