Twist Week: 100 Greatest Scenes Number 37: “I see Dead People”

Image result for sixth sense i see dead people scene

Views from the Sofa’s 100 Greatest Scenes is a list of the 100 greatest moments in the movies. This could be long introductions, moments of action or great dialogue between characters. The scenes are in no particular order and come from many different types of movies.

It has become one of cinema’s most famous scenes and has been mocked, parodied and imitated so many times that it is easy to forget how much impact the original actually had. It is also such a simple scene. It is only four words but the way they are delivered, the camera-angles chosen, the excellent soundtrack and the reaction by Bruce Willis tells how creepy this really is. It also telegraphs one of movies biggest twists.

Greatest Scene Number 37: The Sixth Sense – “I See Dead People.”

It is easy to forget that this scene is important for both characters. Putting the scene in context, Bruce Willis’ character also needs help and is inadvertently getting it from Haley Joel Oswelt’s Cole and the scene begins with Willis’ child psychologist unloading the story which brought him to Cole in the first place.

The whole film is a showcase of how good an actor Bruce Willis can be and this is another example. The delivery is understated, there is no grandstanding, huge impact moment or anything to signify it’s importance (which is good because that is done with the twist at the end) but as well as telling Cole his secret, it also means we finally get to hear what is bothering Haley Joel Osment’s character.

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Osment conveys the terror of this scene perfectly

Osment owns this scene. Most actors go their whole careers without delivering a performance as good as this one. The whisper in his voice and the slight wobble as he starts to explain to Willis exactly what his “secret” is all manage to increase the tension and terror without showing any of what is actually scaring him.

The delivery of the now famous line is enough to send chills but it is actually Willis’ questions afterwards that manage to build the horror. He slowly but un-intrusively pries for more knowledge, really clarifying what exactly Cole means by “seeing dead people.” Cole often just shakes his head or nods slowly as Willis gets closer to the truth. Then comes the real “shiver down the spine moment” when Cole admits he “sees them all the time.”

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Willis’ role in this scene is important too

It is a huge moment for the movie because as well as telegraphing the twist, bringing the two together as characters and building the trust between them, this scene also unlocks the door to the real horror, as we see all the “dead people” that Cole sees as well!

Overall, this iconic scene is a masterclass in acting. The performances by both leads manages to sell the terror and horror of the situation at the center of the movie perfectly. It is all done with subtle, quiet moments but still manages to send a chill down the spine of anyone watching.

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Iconic but worthy of it

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