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review added: 4/4/00



The Sixth Sense
Collector's Edition - 1999 (2000) – Hollywood Pictures (Buena Vista)

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Sixth Sense: Collector's Edition Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/A

Specs and Features

107 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered (layer switch at 53.55, in chapter 11), Amaray keep case packaging, 2 TV spots, trailers for The Sixth Sense, The 13th Warrior, From Dusk Til Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, In Too Deep and Summer of Sam, storyboard-to-film comparison, interviews with cast and crew (presented in 6 distinct sections), 3 deleted scenes plus an extended ending with introductions by writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, Easter Egg featuring a short film clip by 11-year-old Shyamalan entitled Nightmare on Old Gulf, seamless branching for French credits, cast and crew bios, film-themed menu screens with animation and sounds, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned


"I see dead people."

I had to go for the obvious quote there folks... sorry. So in case you’ve been under a rock for a year, here’s the story of The Sixth Sense. A little boy (Academy Award nominee Haley Joel Osmet) finds himself visited by ghosts and it’s driving him nuts. Enter a child psychiatrist in a bad hairpiece (Bruce Willis), who has unsuccessfully dealt with this type of trauma before. The two bond, make a discovery and then presto-chango, we get a huge whammy of an ending. Now, everyone is talking about "the secret" by saying: "You have to see this flick before it’s ruined for you." The great thing is, the media stayed away. I haven’t really read a review or story on this film that gave the film away until recently, as I've started to read other reviews of this DVD. I have no idea why some people seem to think it’s okay to give "the secret" away, now that The Sixth Sense is reaching it’s most widespread medium (home video), but they are. I won’t, because I respect the home theater crowd. Suffice it to say that the movie is pretty darn good, and if you haven’t seen it – don’t read any reviews of it on the Net. Go out, watch it and have a good time. It’s just a well-made film that deserves the attention heaped upon it. The least said about it, the better.

This review is going to focus on the DVD. As for the video quality, it’s very good but not first-rate. The framing is 1.85:1 anamorphic, which is nice, but the blacks are not as solid as anyone would want or expect. There’s lots of picture grain evident and at times it’s quite obvious, but this is how the film appeared in theaters. Skin tones are fine, and the overall contrast is fair. It’s better than VHS, so I guess I can’t complain too much. The English and French tracks are both in Dolby Digital 5.1 and the sound quality for both is generally also very good. The sound effects all come across in your sound field and the score just creeps around you. The dialogue is pretty much centered in the front, with little play in the side fields. I don’t think it absolutely kicks ass, but to the casual enthusiast it’s just fine.

Now... let's talk extras. This is a pretty rootin’-tootin’ special edition from our friends at Disney. Here’s what you get: an extensive behind-the-scenes look featuring interviews with M. Night Shyamalan (writer/director), Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, Oliva Williams and Haley Joel Osmet (stars), Frank Marshall and Barry Mendel (producers), James Newton Howard (composer), Sam Mercer (executive producer) and Andrew Mondshein (editor). The interviews take place in different sections of the disc, as labeled in the menu. There’s Storyboard-to-Film Comparison, where we look at the restaurant sequence and hear from Shyamalan about what changed from drawing to filming and why. There’s The Cast, where a majority of the cast and crew discuss how this group was so important in coming together (and everyone pretty much gushes over Osmet). We look at Music and Sound Design, and listen in on how Shyamalan and Howard came up with such a haunting score. We also hear from Shyamalan about how breathing plays an important part in the film. This section features clips from the film with nothing but sound cues and the score played while the crew talks. Reaching the Audience focuses on the box office of the film and theories about the film’s impact. Next up is Rules and Clues, a look behind-the-scenes on what to look for while watching the film the second time around. Last up, there’s A Conversation with M. Night Shyamalan, which is just that - a conversation with a young filmmaker after he’s made the 10th highest grossing film of all time. Rounding out the material is a section containing three deleted scenes (with brief introductions) and an extended ending for the film. Most of the material lifted deserved to be lifted, because it would have just slowed the film down. There is one cut that would have been, at least in part, welcomed back into the film, because a small piece of it remained in the final film and sort of just lays there without reason. See if you can see what I’m talking about. The extras are very nice, informative and generally well done, although much of it is of lesser video quality. The Bruce Willis interviews, in particular, look like there were shot with a Fisher-Price Pixelcam and it's annoying. Thrown in for good measure is a clip from an early short film by Shyamalan (hidden as an Easter Egg) and seamless branching for French credits when viewing the film French 5.1 audio.

There is one bad thing about this DVD version of The Sixth Sense, and it's a problem that's becoming standard on all of Buena Vista's DVDs - mandatory trailers and commercials at the beginning of the disc. When you first pop the disc in your player, even before the menus appear, you're "treated" to a score of promotional spots for current and upcoming Buena Vista films and DVDs... and while some people can skip through these with their player's remote, LOTS of other people apparently can't (depending on the player). You also can't press Stop or Menu either. We've gotten TONS of complaints about this problem from our readers. While we dig having the spots on the DVD - nobody likes sneak peek trailers more than we do here at the Bits - having no choice in watching them even before the film itself is highly irritating. We hope the studio drops this annoying practice ASAP.

That said, as special editions go, this is a great effort by Disney. I would have liked a little better picture and sound here, but if this disc had a commentary track (which would have been an obvious choice with this film), it would have been a touchdown. But we’ll take baby steps with Disney. For all you other film critics out there, please keep "the secret" a secret - there are still plenty of people out there who haven’t seen The Sixth Sense. And if you’ve only seen it once, you’ll be surprised how into this film you’ll still be the second time around. Be sure to wait on watching the extras on this disc until AFTER you've seen the film. Then go through the extras, and check out all the little clues and hints the filmmakers put into the film - clues that almost everyone completely misses the first time. I think you'll be surprised...

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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