Re-Analysis of The Sixth Sense

I would love to revisit the official storyform for The Sixth Sense. Specifically I’m interested in the Main Character Approach, the Main Character Problem-Solving Style and the Story Driver.

Currently it has Do-er, Holistic and Action. Speaking with Chris we were thinking Be-er, Linear, and Decision.

Is anyone interested in watching it again and offer up your thoughts? Thanks.

I’m in! Just let me know when.

Excellent! How about we start next Monday? Gives everyone the long weekend.

I’ll probably have the time as I wind down with rewrites. Was going to watch it again here soon, too, so the time is right.

Sounds good then. The other thing to pay attention to would be the opening sequence and whether or not you think that’s Backstory or not. @chuntley is always telling me it is Backstory, which I always have a problem with but then again, he usually tends to be right about these things :smile:

Whether it is or not will have a big effect on the Driver. If it isn’t then Action works nicely, if it is Backstory then Decision could be the Driver. The big Midpoint is Cole’s reveal…so is it his Decision to reveal or the reveal itself. (And then his Decision to tell Mom at the end about the bike rider).

Anyways, just enjoying the bigger real estate here. I’ll watch it this weekend for sure just to see again.

I will have trouble seeing the opening as NOT-backstory. It seems so clearly to be backstory. But I’ll keep an open mind.

Then again, if the OS is “living in a world where people can see ghosts” it fits right in…

Interesting. I wouldn’t see the opening as backstory - in fact, I was having a conversation about “inciting incidents” with someone who thought Ordinary People’s took place offscreen before the movie began with the older son’s drowning. I said it was backstory in that there’s got to be a reason why we start a story when - and where - we do, as characters (should) have a complete life that effects their motivations and desires before that point we meet them (which I’d say is backstory).

For me, the opening gives us a glimpse of Malcolm’s life prior to death (oops, hope I didn’t spoil that - lol), but it’s good writing because it works backstory into the present with the conflict involving the break-in with Vincent Gray. That sets up a failure for Malcolm to overcome - and Vincent becomes “the ghost” he tries to overcome the rest of the film. In fact, I know we’ve spoken about the concept of a negative reflection before (I forget if we ever gave it a proper name), but Vincent becomes that for Cole - Malcolm clearly holds a mirror up between the two throughout the movie to provide similarities and contrasts to, always fearful of having Cole’s outcome mirroring Vincent’s.

For me, if the Goal is Understanding What’s Wrong with These Kids–and I think that still holds up pretty strongly–then the opening sequence would be the Action that forces him to decide to take up the case with Cole. If, instead, the Goal is simply Understanding What is Wrong with Cole which, as I write it, probably makes more sense (since mom and the other kids aren’t concerned so much with what is wrong with all the kids as they are with simply Cole), then the beginning could be Backstory.

I may have just argued myself out of it :smile:

No doubt everybody’s concerned with Cole - but isn’t Malcolm’s role in this driven by failure? Looking at it holistically, once we know he’s dead - and I can’t remember specifically what he says - isn’t he more or less “still there” because he needed to do something (one of which was telling his wife she was never second best?). He’s a ghost who’s caught in between - not ready to let go because his last incident in life tainted it as a failure which, in turn, compromises his relationship in his view (beforehand she said all the sacrifices were worth playing second fiddle to his career).

I’ll have to look up what the current analysis says since it’s been a while.

I clearly have to watch the movie again before I start piping up!

Me too! I’ve seen it enough times, but am just going on interpretation because I don’t think/recall it being blatantly stated - it just seems Malcolm’s issues all stem from his being dead, not necessarily what we’re lead to believe as the story unfolds (because we’re being deceived). So in that sense, Malcolm’s thrown himself into his work - re: Cole - in an effort to right his perceived wrong - yet in his mind it’s causing marital issues, further distancing him from his wife who now resents it (though that’s not the case at all). That’s why, to me, being killed (action) precipitates the decision to take Cole’s case: it’s something he HAS to do to redeem himself - otherwise he’s a restless spirit, and as it turns out, Cole’s the one who helps him in return when he says he knows how he can talk to his wife.

I watched the movie last night and I was stunned by how much of a Do-er Cole seems like and how much of a Be-er Malcolm seems like.

It’s also incredibly hard to suss out the driver: Cole really has to gear up to decide to tell Malcolm he can see dead people, which makes it seem like a decision-driven story. This happens again later, when Cole really steels himself to go back and talk to the dead ghost. But it’s the action of talking to the sleeping wife that gives Malcolm permission to go, or so it seems.

Plus, I’m with Barker: it’s hard to imagine that Malcolm’s issues don’t come from the fact that he’s dead… except that maybe it’s not that he’s dead, it’s that he’s refusing to accept that he’s dead.

I think for sure he is a Be-er. I remember at CalArts trying to defend the original storyform on the site in class and feeling really stupid while doing it. What am I saying?! There’s no way he’s a Do-er, I would think as I tried to build a case for it. That was kind of the impetus to asking Chris if we could revisit.

Besides the quad in Mind feels so much better than the one in Situation. Perception, Actuality, Knowledge and Thought? Issue of the Truth? (what one holds to be true). That is his problem. Not Prediction (and focusing on Chaos and Order…ehhh…not really). Katie never really addresses much of this stuff in her original synopsis of The Sixth Sense.

Flipping the Symptom and Response (after moving Malcom to Fixed Attitude) also feels so much better. Symptom of Aware (“I see ghosts”) and Response of Self-Aware (“Hey, really it’s cause you miss your dad…”). It also gives Cole a Driver of Speculation (“This boy is crazy!”) that I think works better as well.


It looks like this is going to be a good discussion!

I think I’ve convinced myself that – not only does Malcolm feel like a Be-er – I also think his problem isn’t that he’s dead. Lots of people die and move on. His problem is that he has lingering disappointments that he needs to take care of. He even says this – he says to Cole, “I feel like if I can help you, then I will have helped him,” (more or less).

This is true with the other ghosts too. The dead girl at the end wants help turning her mother in. It’s the unfinished business that keeps people hanging around, which is different than simply being dead.

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Right, he’s refusing to accept that he’s dead because he has unfinished business. That’s why the correlation between Vincent Grey and Cole is there, the apparent goal being Malcolm needs to help Cole to a) keep him from suffering Vincent’s fate and b) redeem himself for the death/failure of Vincent. Had Vincent never shot Malcolm and himself, there would have been no reason for Malcolm to believe Cole’s story (if he still eventually met him at all).

And that’s why it sounds more than just Backstory! He shoots him which raises the question Why??

Since we probably agree on the MC Approach, what do we think of his Tendency? Does he seem Willing or Unwilling? I would say Willing…which then turns the opening into Backstory. Argh!

I dunno - to me, backstory is everything that happened before the first second of the movie. If characters are discussing something that happened before then, it’s exposition. The first few minutes are clearly all expository, but what makes it less a data-dump is Vincent’s entrance into the story. Although he continues to give us a bunch of details, his action - shooting - is here and now in the present. I don’t think his shooting raises the question why, though, because all that exposition lays it right out: Malcolm failed him. I’m going to watch it tonight and pay particular attention to the scene because even if we ask why (or how) did Malcolm fail him, I still think the answer is there (he didn’t believe him - which turns the why into a what). That may help answer the question of tendency because to me, the whole scene is predicated on Vincent’s perspective that Malcolm is unwilling to believe him. Rather than try to understand Vincent, I believe Malcolm says he’s going to call someone. That he even starts out by telling Vincent what the address is and that there’s no control substances all up front makes him sound unwilling to see from Vincent’s perspective, too; he simply thinks he’s a junkie looking for a score.

Barker, your logic about “everything that happens before the first second of the movie” doesn’t hold water from the perspective of Dramatica. Dramatica isn’t concerned about the movie, it’s concerned with the story the movie is telling. (Sorry to sound pedantic.)

The movie has to have a setting, and that setting is a world where Malcolm is dead. It has to be established, which makes it part of the backstory.

That said, I have a question about willing/unwilling. Dead people only see what they want to see: they are unwilling to see what they need to see. Does that count? Or is it more relevant that Dr. Crowe feels willing for the duration of the movie?

I think its more relevant whether or not he’s willing or unwilling to participate in the investigation to understand what is wrong with this boy(s). Assuming we’re sticking with the Understanding Goal (which I think is good) he seems Willing, right?

It sounds like we all really like Be-er. What would be interesting now would be to print out the four storyforms that we have to choose form and see if maybe the Signposts fit better for one or the other.

The similar points would be: Change, Start, Be-er, Optionlock, Success, Good, Activities, Understanding, Senses, Perception. Then we would have one with Linear/Action, Holistic/Action, Linear/Decision and Holistic/Decision.

My pre-guess speculation? There should be a Hairpin sequence with Cole’s revelation being the big turnaround in the middle of the story. He seems Willing to me, so I hope Decision gives us that Hairpin in the middle (and I’m guessing Linear, but I can be argued out of that).

Just to be sure: Bark likes Situation (He’s dead), I thought? @JBarker?