David BruceDirector, M. Night Shyamalan, says, "The Sixth Sense is about learning how to communicate those fears whether it's communication between a doctor and the patient, a husband and a wife, a mother and a son...  keeping secrets from people we love can destroy marriages, careers, families and even lives. That in itself is horrifying."
-Review by David Bruce


This page was last updated June 27, 2005
Bruce Willis as Malcolm Crowe
Haley Joel Osment as Cole
Toni Collette as Lynn Sear
Olivia Williams as Anna Crowe
Donnie Wahlberg as Vincent Gray
Mischa Barton as Kyra Collins
rest of cast listed alphabetically
Trevor Morgan as Tommy Tommisimo
Jose L. Rodriguez  as Husband
M. Night Shyamalan as Dr. Hill

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Written by M. Night Shyamalan
Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Barry Mendel and Sam Mercer (executive).
Cinematography by Tak Fujimoto

Not every gift is a blessing.
In this chilling psychological thriller, eight-year-old Cole Sear, (Haley Joel Osment) is haunted by a dark secret: He is visited by ghosts. A helpless and reluctant channel, Cole is terrified by threatening visitations from those with unresolved problems who appear from the shadows. Confused by his paranormal powers, Cole is too young to understand his purpose and too terrified to tell anyone about his torment, except child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis). As Dr. Crowe tries to uncover the ominous truth about Cole's supernatural abilities, the consequence for client and therapist is a jolt that awakens them both to something harrowing and unexplainable.
M. Night Shyamalan

     " 'Sixth Sense' is frightening, disturbing and horrific in the tradition of films like 'Rosemary's Baby,' 'Repulsion' and 'The Omen.'  It's reality based fright. It comes from the fears of real people, real children and real adults; fears of loss, the unknown, of having a sixth sense about what lies beyond and fears of not understanding those intuitions.

     "Ultimately, it's about learning how to communicate those fears, whether it's communication between a doctor and the patient, a husband and a wife, a mother and a son or between ourselves and loved ones who have passed on. As we all have seen, not communicating with, or keeping secrets from people we love can destroy marriages, careers, families and even lives. That in itself is horrifying."

There is a lot of symbolism in this film. Some of it is obvious, like setting the film during the Halloween season. This is the mythological time when the nature god dies and awaits rebirth in the spring. Fall is the time of the dead. It is opposite the time of Spring -Easter -resurrection and rebirth.

Shadows, throughout human history, have symbolically been connected to spirits of the dead.  Writer/director, Shyamalan, makes wonderful use of not only shadows, but also reflections.

Pay attention to the use of windows and doors, which are symbolic entrances to other dimensions and realities. Dark City, The Truman Show, The Matrix and other recent films have effectively used such devices to transport us into other dimensions of reality. In The Sixth Sense locked doors are also significant.

sixthsense02.jpg (30890 bytes)
The establishment of a holy place -sanctuary- is important in this film. The boy, Cole, seeks a place of peace from all the dead spirits and finds that place in the church. Another sense of the sacred in this film comes from the use of religious and secular icons -little figurines of Jesus, the saints, and even plastic soldiers and puppets. Shyamalan continually reminds us of those who have passed into the next dimension.
Shyamalan is very clear that his film is about the importance of good and truthful communication within relationships. Bad communication acts like doors and windows, which separate us from the loving relationships we need.
This scene with the red balloon is the symbolic cornerstone to the whole picture. Note also the use of light and shadow in this scene.  Shadows are symbolic of the dead. Light is symbolic of life and even God -the life giver.
Red is an important color in this film. It is used to underscore important links to the supernatural. Red in our culture is a symbol of blood, and hence, death.  It is also a bright color that pulls the eye. It underscores.  Shyamalan gives it a spiritual connection as well. We are introduced to the boy at a church with two big red doors. The little icon of Jesus in the church has a red cloth draped over his white robe. The holy candles have a reddish pink glow.  
After learning from Malcolm about how previous generations sought refuge from their enemies in the church, Cole goes home and builds a red tent sanctuary in his room. And, inside he places little Christian icons, a bed and a flashlight.  At the end of this film, in a heart -grabbing scene, the mother -wearing red- becomes Cole's new sanctuary as she lovingly embraces her son. Truth brings intimacy to their relationship. Shyamalan seems to be suggesting that honest and caring relationships are a holy place -a sacred place.
     The film works because we all think about the after-life - heaven and hell. It is amazing that in a film like this, filled with so many symbols of death and life, our film critics are reluctant to talk about the spiritual aspects. I have yet to read one review that discusses the blatant spiritual symbolism found in this movie. Our culture demonstrates a great curiosity about spiritual things and yet our film critics are reticent to discuss these issues when reviewing film.  

     I highly recommend the film as a conversation-starter with your friends.  Grab a friend who is searching for truth, take them out for a great film and over coffee afterwards talk about the spiritual connections in the story. Don't be afraid. You will be amazed by the questions this film will initiate. Another great topic this film deals with is our own truth.    "And the truth shall set you free," Jesus said.   I believe at the core of this film is the importance of truth-telling within a relationship.

     I know there will be some who will fault this film for its "communication with the dead" which they are sure to point out as wrong. But, this film is too powerful and important to simply dismiss. The film is a fantasy, but the story is filled with important truth and crucial life issues. Don't be afraid to deal with the afterlife, spiritual things, and the issue of truth-in-relationships. Allow this film to be one of the ways God opens your thinking to new dimensions within your life.

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Please note:
Comments that reveal the ending will not be posted or may be edited.

Subject: Great Web Site
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001
From: Amelia

Hi! I just discovered this web site, and I love it! It's interesting, I just recently wrote a critique of the Sixth Sense for a Media-related Theology class that I am taking, and I came up with a lot of the same symbolism that you did. I had a different take on the "red" however, and I thought I'd share my idea. On Pentecost Sunday, Catholics wear red to celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit unto the disciples so that they could speak in tongues and communicate with everyone. I noticed in the Sixth Sense that every time an "important" conversation took place, at least one person was wearing red (or at least surrounded by red), and I took it as a reminder of Pentecost, which is (in a very secular sense) a celebration of good communication.

Subject: please check out
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001

Hello, My name is Michael Alexander. You might find a very interesting site. We redefine the sixthsense as our feelings, (our feelings are a sense we use to identify and interpret a situation or circumstance) We explain how the sixth sense travels with us from life to life through reincarnation and re links with the other five senses when the soul, (made of electro magnetic energy) finds a new body. We beleive we can very soon prove reincarnation with modern science and we beleive the law of attraction (Karma) responds to our feeling energy, not our actions. Please enter an opinion in our public opinion poll at the site.
thank you, michael

Response: God as electro magnetic energy. Hmmm. Gosh, I wish life was this easy to explain. I think God is spirit, therefore unexplainable. Just like life. May God bless you Michael -David

Subject: Profound message
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000
From: Joel

I know I am late the The Sixth Sense game, but I saw it recently and saw a profound message that no one else has addressed. As Believers in Jesus, we see dead people every day. At work, at the grocery store, at the movie theater... everywhere. The spiritually dead roam the earth. And the kicker? They don't know they are dead...
Joel The WorldVillage Family of Sites

Date: Wed, 31 May 2000
From: Donna

the Truth Shall Set You Free
Do you (or anyone else out there reading these messages) think that the teenage boy who shot and killed Malcolm was the child, Cole? That Malcolm was in such turmoil at not having helped his teenage client, when he died his ghost went back in time and altered his treatment plan with the child, thereby changing the course of history. By helping Cole learn how to do the most good with his "6th sense" (showing him how to let the tormented dead communicate with the living) Malcolm also helped set free the tortured sole of the teenage boy. One of the reasons I think the teenage boy and the child, Cole, were one and the same is because when Malcolm was with Cole, the automobiles in the background were also of an earlier period in time.

Subject: The color green
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000
From: ER Captain

More Speculation -- Besides red, I also noted how important the color green was. It seemed to be a symbol of life or possibly "new life" or a symbol of "salvation". The mother wore a green sweater when she rescued her son from the closet that he gets locked in. Interesting to see that he: 1) Went up the stairs (a spiritual ascending.) 2) Locked away (a spiritual death) 3) Mother, in green, recovers him In the last scene that Haley is in, he is wearing green shoes -- as he swings his sword on the window ledge -- Walking/living a victorious new life?? The center altar icon in the church is also green. I can't tell if it is a Madonna and child or Christ. What do you think?

Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2000
From: Lyn Mc

Thanks for the non-spoiler review, plus the run down on symbolism. In addition to the 'spiral' effect of the staircase, note its affinity with the chambered nautilus -- a sea creature's shell that has long been used to illustrate the passage from life to life, each new "room" adding to the mansion the creature leaves behind. I also think this is a perfect post-resurrection illustration of "we will all be changed." My only regret was the amount of whispering in the film -- hard to watch with the hard of hearing. Rev. Lyn Mc

Subject: Haley, I've never written to or about any star before
Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2000
From: Beth and Melbourne Pimenta!

You got ripped off! You were the best. I saw "Cider House Rules" today and although it was a "nice" story, I left the theater wondering why they made this a movie. The book was great, but michael Caine had nothing on you. When we left the theater after seeing the "The Sixth Sense", My husband (who is from India) and I (American) were stunned and amazed. Please don't be discouraged! You were great! Beth and Melbourne Pimenta!

Subject: M. Night Shyamalan
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000
From: Shaw

What other movies has M. Night Shyamalan done? I've had no luck with other
video references. The "Sixth Sense" was excellent. We would like to see his past work.
Thanks. E. Magana

My response: Did you know he did Stuart Little? It is movie houses now!
His films are:
1.Unbreakable (coming in 2000)
2.Stuart Little (1999) (screenplay)
3.Sixth Sense, The (1999)
4.Wide Awake (1998)
5.Praying with Anger (1992)

Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999
From: Brandi

Hey everyone! I went into "The Sixth Sense" thinking I was going to regret ever letting my friend talk me into seeing it. When I left that theatre room my view was COMPLETELY changed! I think "The Sixth Sense" has been one of my absolute favorite movies of all time. Everything about it kept me on the edge of my seat and my attention was never taken from the screen. Everything about this movie takes you completely in the actors positions. By the end of the movie, I was shaking and shivering and I had cried so much my eyes burnt! But I LOVED it! This movie also starts a wonderful conversation topic. My friend and I talked about it for hours on end. "The Sixth Sense" is also a movie that is very observent. Watch for certain things that actors say or things shown, it all adds up in the end. If you haven't seen this movie, DON'T miss it!

November 4, 1999. This is one of my favorite films of all time and is very a film you will not understand fully unless you watch it over and over. I still had
not noticed the red theme throughtout very interesting. I also have a review at of the sixth sense

October 5, 1999. I really appreciate this web site. I have been here once before maybe a   couple of months ago and I reviewed the 6th Sense and I read all about the   signs to look for, just recently I had went to go see the movie and I tried   to remember everything to look for. Most of all I did rememeber seeing the   red, and I tried to think what could that symbolize at that particular part in the movie. The movie did have me thinking about life after death. But I have to admit that I figured out the movie before it revealed itself!!! *smile* And I didnt cheat!!
Again I praise God for your website
God Bless
Stephanie Ishman

October 16, 1999 I saw this movie the second time with my mother and it still made me jump. Anyway, it reminds me of after my grandpa died in the nursing home and I felt him standing by me in spirit. I can imagine how Cole felt when he
helped that girl Kyra. This is a great website.

October 19, 1999 I had no desire to see this movie until I read the review on your website. I loved it. My husband and I spent the rest of the evening discussing it and the signals we missed. We have never spent so much time discussing a movie before. I agree with a previous comment--an Oscar for Haley Joel Osmet. He was superb. --Teresa

October 23, 1999What makes sense in this whole film as what was suggested in the film is relationship and i definitely believe in getting the truth or be as frank to everybody. However on the issue of afterlife, Jesus said, "Let the Dead bury themselves." And join with Jesus after our departure/ putting out faith in Him. So i rightly believe that if we are to leave this world now, like being raptured, i will not be worried about those who i gotta leave behind because Jesus will show them the way after i am gone. So what am i gonna do? Just live for Jesus. I may fall hard and bruised because of sin, but i am forever righteous in the sight of God because of my Lord's redemption of OUR sin through His blood. And i am very sure i will not stay back as these ghostly characters have.
The Truth Will Definitely Set us Free.!

September 8, 1999. I'm quite impressed by your fascinating Web site. It's a superb idea for Christians to analyze and discuss movies, rather than simply passing moral judgments on them.
     Of course, it's easy to do that sort of thing with the Sixth Sense, the most
pleasant surprise I've had in a movie theatre in years.
     I went expecting merely a clever horror movie; what I got instead was a rich and thoughtful drama with a climax that manages to be shocking, tragic, and heartwarming all at once. I'm hard pressed to think of any Hollywood film that does better at trying to reimagine the meaning of death. Lovely piece of work. And if there's any justice, that Osment kid wins Best Actor at next year's Oscars. He's precisely that good.
     Anyway, thanks much for a lovely Web site.
Hiawatha Bray
Tech Reporter
Boston Globe

September 6, 1999.  I am a filmmaker/writer I have not been this freaked out after seeing a movie since The SHINNING this type of cinema is definitely a welcome change from forensic gorefests. -Duane Soebagio


September 6, 1999.  I wouldn't of seen the movie - except my son (age 16) wanted to go. So....  off we went. I enjoyed the movie and then at the end BAMB... you're hit with  the surprise. So now I want to go see it again and see all the signals I missed throughout the movie.
Play it again Sam.

September 6, 1999. Hello: This evening I saw Sixth Sense and now know why it is the number one movie the past four weeks. Strange to read a review after seeing the movie. You are  right, there is much to discuss after viewing the film. By the way, Cole Sear is nine years old as noted on Malcom's writing pad. The film was excellent and thought provoking, particularly the scene near the end with Cole and his mother (in the car). You have done a fine job reviewing this terrific film!

September 4, 1999.Kudos to you on the insightful review. And Super-Kudos to you for not spoiling the wonderful plot-point at the end!
eric bramlett in Naperville IL

September 1, 1999. This is my first time to your site, and I like your analysis and visual critiques of the movie Sixth Sense (which I have not seen). I was disappointed though with the color schemes used in your site. The overuse of color (and weird color combinations like yellow on red) make it really hard to read. Perhaps just a little tweaking on the color scheme could really make this an incredible site.
--Louis Nemec,
New York State Theatre Education Association
NEMECS: (New site)

My response: Yeah, you are right the colors did need to be tweaked. I'll try to stay away from red and yellow combinations in the future. In fact, I have eliminated the red and yellow combination from this page. Thanks for the suggestion, they help!

August 30, 1999.  Thank you for a helpful, moving, stimulating review of one of my favorite films of recent viewing. I will pass your site on to friends, Bruce!

Aug 22, 1999.  I turned to your site (linked from IMDB) with merely idle curiosity, fearing that it would be be another place which purports to minister to "concerned parents" by mechanically tallying swear words, servings of alcohol, glimpses of nude bodies, etc. while ignoring a film's overall moral tone or message. It was a pleasant surprise to see its themes perceived and explored with such great probity and insight. In terms of specific analysis and identification of symbolic elements, it is by far the best of all reviews cited in IMDB. Great job! I'll be looking for your pages on other films which I have seen or want to see.
     Of course, the existence of ghosts is not intrinsic to the Christian faith and can only be surmised or premised, and it is a hypothesis which in practice has spawned a great deal of charlatanism and misplaced faith. But once this point is made in discussion with children or others, one can go on to glean a great deal of edification from what the film has done with the premise.
      It must not be overlooked that the church is portrayed as important to Cole and his mother (as evidenced by the trouble she goes through to send him to a parochial school), and that their faith experience is considered at least somewhat positively. Perhaps there is not quite such a dearth of such portrayals in film now as five years ago-- yet it is still rare enough that Christians should applaud such gestures.

August 10, 1999. Dear Bruce, I found your web page on the Internet today and thought it was a pretty creative idea, to view films from a religious perspective. Granted, a lot of people with deep religious faiths are likely to shy away from Hollywood films, assuming (incorrectly, I think) that most of the products simply revel in the glorification of sex, violence, and personal indulgence. Some do, some don't. But I think there's a tendency to dismiss a film based on how they perceive it will be, rather than actually checking out what it is. Take "The Exorcist." The film's violence probably led a lot of religious people to decide not to see this film, but I think it's actually quite a moral film, one that takes the Devil (and, therefor, God as well) quite seriously. It's nice to see a web page like yours that examines today's movies from a religious perspective, but doesn't automatically dismiss all the films as immoral. Anyway, the main reason I'm writing: I enjoyed your review of "The Sixth Sense," which I caught last Friday. I'm a big fan of horror films, which is the main reason I went to see this movie, and while it did have some very scary scenes, overall I thought it was a surprisingly upbeat and optimistic look at the meaning of death. I agree with you that there was a considerable amount of religious symbolism in this film; to me, the film seemed to be suggesting that people of science (including psychologists) take a far too literal and rational view of the world, dismissing anything that doesn't have a scientific solution. I think the film suggests that people who have a faith and believe in something more -- whether it's a belief in ghosts, reincarnation, the miracles of Jesus Christ, or holy miracles -- may be to something, and that science shuts the door on anything it can't see.   I review films for the newspaper I work for in Fall River, Massachusetts. I'm not technically sophisticated enough to send you a copy of my review by E-mail, but if you send me an E-mail back with a mailing address, I can send you a copy. Anyway, keep up the good work.

The Sixth Sense © 1999 Buena Vista Pictures. All Rights Reserved.