The Sixth Sense: Vista Series

Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Bruce Norris. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1. Two DVDs. 107 minutes. 1999. Touchstone Home Video 18307. PG-13. $24.99.

Second chances are rare and wonderful things, and in The Sixth Sense, celebrated child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is lucky enough to get one. One night he and his wife, Anna (Olivia Williams), are surprised in their home by an intruder who looks and acts like a junkie desperate for a high. Turns out he's Vincent Gray (Donnie Wahlberg), a former patient of Crowe's so unhappy with the therapy he received years ago that he shoots the shrink before putting a bullet through his own head.

The next fall we see a chastened Crowe with his latest patient, Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a secretive, serious boy with big eyes and a tight whisper of a voice. Cole has a big secret that he eventually shares with the doctor: the boy sees dead people. They talk to him, follow him around, and are a regular, terrifying part of his life.

Cole reminds the doctor of the former patient who died in his upstairs bathroom a few months before. Cole and Vincent have the "same mannerisms, same expressions, same things hanging over their heads," Crowe sighs at his wife over an anniversary dinner. He thinks he's been given a second chance—something he'd also like to have with his wife. Their relationship has cooled; she seems as melancholy as he is these days, and winds up leaving the restaurant alone after saying no more than a few words.

Melancholy permeates this modern ghost story. The doctor is depressed by his failure with Vincent, his foundering marriage, and Cole's perplexing case. Willis delivers a subdued, thoughtful performance as the doctor struggling to find answers to a boy's profound dilemma—smirks are held to an absolute minimum. His star power gave director M. Night Shyamalan's movie the juice it needed to be seen by a wide audience, but Osment gives the film its soul. He makes us believe his sweet character is haunted, and makes us forget that we're watching an actor at work.

This is Disney's second go-round with The Sixth Sense. The first DVD, issued in 2000, is much like this one: anamorphic, with extras including a storyboard-to-film comparison, an interview with the director, deleted scenes, and a making-of documentary. The only significant difference—and one could certainly argue that it isn't all that significant—is that this edition includes a DTS soundtrack in addition to the standard Dolby 5.1 track.

Like the first edition, this one is free of any pixelization or edge enhancement, and the film's muted colors are faithfully reproduced. The soundtrack is a lot like Bruce Willis' performance: quiet, unassuming, effective.

Of the extras, the most interesting is the interview with Shyamalan (several segments of the same interview are divided into different topics on the extras disc). While he's sometimes a bit too self-congratulatory—he brashly calls his film "a cultural phenomenon"—his enthusiasm for his movie and script is nonetheless appealing. (Neither edition of The Sixth Sense has a commentary track by the articulate director, which would've been a nice addition.)

If you want to add a cultural phenomenon to your film library, get Saturday Night Fever, Titanic, or Casablanca. This film, while very good, didn't change our culture or help us define it in new ways. It does, however, give us an ending so startling and unexpected that virtually no one sees it coming.

If you've already got The Sixth Sense in your DVD library, this edition won't give you much new. This DVD isn't a second chance—it's a second helping.

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