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BookClubEditor
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Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense

[ Edited ]

Watch The Sixth Sense.

Tell us about a memorable visual from the movie. Also, can you cite any moments where the story was conveyed solely through the visuals, with no help from the dialogue?


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Message Edited by BookClubEditor on 03-02-2007 06:26 PM

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Brendan_M_Burns
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense

Great, let's start with one of my *least* favorite movies of all time...

Two scenes that spring to mind as being visually compelling with sparse dialogue are: 1) the school hallway/gallows sequence; and 2) Malcolm's anniversary dinner at a restaurant with his wife (he talks; she is silent -- for good reason!).
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lynn
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense

I think the scene in the restaurant that you mentioned was effective. Of course it is one of the scenes in the film that everyone looked back on after the movie ended and realized they should have known what was up at that point. What made it resonate for me was that it was believable at face value--a couple whose marriage is not going well meet in a restaurant to celebrate their anniversary. We don't realize the second layer except in retrospect.
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crAZRick
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense



BookClubEditor wrote:

Watch The Sixth Sense.

Tell us about a memorable visual from the movie. Also, can you cite any moments where the story was conveyed solely through the visuals, with no help from the dialogue?



Reply to this message to discuss this topic.

Message Edited by BookClubEditor on 03-02-200706:26 PM





another telling scene or sequence of scenes, like the restaurant scene, is the scene in Malcolm's home ( I believe it's his home, I haven't seen the movie in awhile and don't have it handy to review right now...) There's a door that leads to his office/den/study but it's closed and useless now, even blocked by a table or something I think. There is a shot of the door, closed and blocked, with Malcolm looking at it, curiously. The next scene is Malcolm in his home office alone. It's a quick subtle little tell, and not really noticeable at first viewing, but, as usual with this movie, when you go back and watch again, it's easy to spot.

As far as that goes, every scene that ends with Malcolm needing to get through a closed door is edited in such a way as to subtley convey a hint about the truth; any other movies have no problem following the characters into and out of doors, cars, etc. Malcolm is always only ever shown walking, already inside or outside, never opening or closing a door, and never carrying or holding any props of any kind, I believe...
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense

Great examples of visual storytelling so far. What on first viewing comes off as simple isolation - a man who fails to connect with his surroundings - takes on an entirely new and more literal meaning in retrospect.

What about specific story developments that are conveyed visually? Here's a hint: think of the moment in the film when Malcolm first realizes what he really is.
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Brendan_M_Burns
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense


danielnoah wrote:
What about specific story developments that are conveyed visually? Here's a hint: think of the moment in the film when Malcolm first realizes what he really is.


Malcolm's wedding ring falling from his wife's hand? Very visually effective.
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense


Brendan_M_Burns wrote:

danielnoah wrote:
What about specific story developments that are conveyed visually? Here's a hint: think of the moment in the film when Malcolm first realizes what he really is.


Malcolm's wedding ring falling from his wife's hand? Very visually effective.




Exactly! A great example of how visuals can act to advance story. Think of how much more effective this moment is than if Cole had simply told Malcolm he was a ghost in dialogue. While great lines of dialogue are often what we remember from films, the moments we FEEL the most deeply tend to be visually oriented.
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cariann92
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense

If you haven't seen The Sixth Sense yet, it is on television tonight, Mar. 10, at 7 Central to 10 Central time, guess that is 8-11 Eastern. It is on ABC.

FYI

Cariann
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crAZRick
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense

there's the use of cold, the seeing of breath whenever there are ghosts about. Especially noticeable after Cole reveals that 'when they get mad, it gets cold' but around Cole's house, his mom is always turing up the heat and they are always wearing layers, caps and gloves and such inside his house, because it's always cold, because there are always ghosts around.. except for Malcolm, who always, strangely, seems to wear exactly the same suit all the time...

:smileywink:
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense

you know who did a bang-up job in this flick?

ya sure, Hayley Joel Osment gets all the props as Cole, the troubled tot, and big bad Bruce Willis as the equally-troubled doc, trying to crack Cole's problem so he can get past his own failures.

but how about Toni Collette, as Cole's beleaguered mother, Lynn?

she is rock-solid, vascillating between thinking her son is crazy, or maybe she herself is losing it, maybe both, but it sure is damn cold in their crappy little home!! hardly sleeping herself, stuck working 2 jobs in addition to worrying about Cole's and her own mental and physical well-being, fighting the same battles along side her son, though as alone in the fight as Cole himself must feel, because neither of them can relate to the other in a meaningful way, without revealing the true nature of the insanity in which they are engulfed. Sort of 'Who is the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?' only Who is the more insane and troubled...

Lynn doesn't want to believe Cole is nutty, he doesn't want to explain because he knows she would think he IS crazy, and the only person that can help is doctor Malcolm, and all the good doctor's intentions and focus is on the boy! Malcolm's helpful guidance doesn't even seem to register or resonate with poor put-upon mom, Lynn (with good reason, of course!)

Cole and Lynn's big finale scene in the car brings it all together perfectly, though, and we're left with the sense that this little family might still be OK after all.

just another shot at spicing up the Sixth Sense posts

what say you?
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense

A few more memorable visuals after watching The Sixth Sense a few more times:

Early on, I think during the scene where we are introduced to Cole and his mother, she is rushing to get dressed for work and get Cole off to school, she has his breakfast ready for him ('Coco-Puffs are getting soggy...') Mom sighs with exasperation over a few cabinet doors and drawers open, blaming Cole under her breath (who else could it have been?), then she calls for Cole. Cole enters and sits at the table; Mom notices a spot on his tie.

Mom goes to get Cole a clean clip-on tie from the laundry room, returns in 3 seconds, and finds all the cabinet doors and drawers open, while Cole sits, still and quiet, in his seat at the breakfast table. Again, Mom blames Cole (who else??) and Cole covers by claiming he was looking for Pop-Tarts.

Tommy Tommissimo comes to walk Cole to school; Cole bolts from the table almost forgetting to get the Pop-Tart he supposedly hungered for...

Tommy greets Cole warmly, with a friendly arm around his shoulder, and Mom wavesd them off to school...

out of sight from Mom, Tommy calls Cole 'Freak' and pushes him away, praising himself for his fine acting and improv, for pretending to be Cole's friend.

Not a great deal of dialogue in these few scenes, a few spooky moments, and the telling scenes between Cole, his Mom, and Tommy the bully.


Also, just a few minutes later, when they approach the school, the shot starts at ground-level, basically Cole's POV, then quickly arcs up and back, over-head as kids flock into the school, while Cole pauses, stuck in his tracks gazing up the steps into the cold spooky-looking school. The scene ends high overhead, looking down at Cole as he stand there looking into the school,looking very small and afraid.

I think someone mentioned a few other shots of the school, the hallway, and the gallows scene...
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NEM
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Re: Visual Storytelling: The Sixth Sense

The use of red was a nice thread thru the movie - sometimes subtle (door handle to basement), sometimes blatant (mother who killed her daughter). I was disappointed however that upon rewatching the very beginning of the movie the basement glass door knob was not clear glass as I expected it to be in the opening scene.

I agree with Brandon that the wedding ring dropping to the floor and rolling to him was a great visual. He sees that she still has her bands on and holds up his hand to find his ring is NOT on his finger -- then all the pieces fall into place.

The other subtle, but nice visual only scene was the one where the Mom stops and notices for perhaps the first time that all Cole's pictures have a little glint in them -- that he seems to be looking at, even in his toddler pictures.
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What, Not How

[ Edited ]

NEM wrote:
I agree with Brandon that the wedding ring dropping to the floor and rolling to him was a great visual. He sees that she still has her bands on and holds up his hand to find his ring is NOT on his finger -- then all the pieces fall into place.

The other subtle, but nice visual only scene was the one where the Mom stops and notices for perhaps the first time that all Cole's pictures have a little glint in them -- that he seems to be looking at, even in his toddler pictures.




Yes and yes! Both of these moments are great visual packages, and they're also moments that appear in the screenplay. What doesn't appear in a screenplay: nuances of performance or camera movement.

As screenwriters, our job is to present WHAT happens on screen, but not HOW it happens. In other words, if in a scene a character stops at the mirror to fix his hair, it’s the ACT of fixing his hair that communicates his state of his mind; the viewer “translates” this action to mean that the character is nervous about an impending meeting, or that he’s vain, or whatever other meaning the context of the overall story suggests.

What we don’t do as screenwriters is “direct” actors’ performances, including facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice. And we don’t direct the camera, either. If we’re doing our job and writing a clear story, all the nuance of presentation will be implicit to the scene, and the director will flesh it out during filming. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, as there are to all rules, but in general they're a good guide.

Message Edited by danielnoah on 03-20-200712:11 PM

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Re: What, Not How

[ Edited ]
so, how about some examples of Good vs Bad screenwriting?

like, how would you write the simple hair-fixing scene?
what details should we describe? what should we leave out? how much detail is too much for a screenwriter? how about too little?


He looks in the mirror, messing with his hair.

He is nervous. He looks in the mirror. He messes with his hair.

He appears nervous. He looks in the mirror, messing with his hair. That helps.

He is nervous. His hair is a mess. There is a mirror in the room. He checks his look. He attempts to fix the mess of his hair. Failing to fix his hair doesn't help calm his nerves. He puts a pistol in his mouth and pulls the trigger, blowing the back of his head off. Problems solved. For a split-second, he feels better; then, he feels nothing. He is dead. Now, it is his date who has the problem; her date has no pulse, no brains, and 2 extra holes in his head!

Message Edited by crAZRick on 03-21-200706:56 PM

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Re: What, Not How


crAZRick wrote:
so, how about some examples of Good vs Bad screenwriting?

like, how would you write the simple hair-fixing scene?
what details should we describe? what should we leave out? how much detail is too much for a screenwriter? how about too little?


He looks in the mirror, messing with his hair.

He is nervous. He looks in the mirror. He messes with his hair.

He appears nervous. He looks in the mirror, messing with his hair. That helps.



First one's best, all downhill from there.

I'll give you one, now. Two ways of writing the same moment.

Ernie unlocks his door, enters, and locks it behind him. Stepping into his apartment, he slips off his jacket and drops it on a hook, then sets his keys on the bureau with a clatter. He switches on the lights, takes a quick look around his living room, then exits into the kitchen.

That's the bad version. Here's the good one:

Ernie enters.

Unless... there were some detail in Ernie's entrance that was pertinent to the story. Such as...

Ernie unlocks his door. Switches on the lights to find his mail scattered across the carpet from under the door. He scoops it up, flipping through it mindlessly as he advances toward the kitchen. But then he freezes. It's right there in his hand. A letter from Agnes.

Without the letter from Agnus, there's no reason to go into any detail beyond the simple fact of entering. And, in fact, as part of a larger sequence, you probably don't even need to show him entering at all!

All of this can be summed up in one, simple phrase: Information in a screenplay is included on a need to know basis.

In other words, if the audience doesn't NEED to know something to understand the story, it doesn't belong.
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crAZRick
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Re: What, Not How

I see! In that case, I have another example of visuals in The Sixth Sense screenplay, their purpose, and how they translate on-screen:

Near the end of the opening sequence with Malcolm and Anna, when they get cold, put on sweaters, it's because that's when Vincent arrives (and because Vincent shares the same visions as Cole, it tends to get cold whenever Vincent or Cole are around...)
Seems kinda extraneous info at first; OK so it's cold, why break up the drunken celebration that should lead to a sex scene in order to put on more clothes?!!?

AHA! That's why!

sure, there is dialogue going on throughout the sequence, but including the chill and requiring the sweaters seems unnecessary, until we understand the context and subtext involving Vincent's appearance to end the sequence.

Is this a good example of that sort of 'telling-visual' thing??
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Re: What, Not How



crAZRick wrote:
I see! In that case, I have another example of visuals in The Sixth Sense screenplay, their purpose, and how they translate on-screen:

Near the end of the opening sequence with Malcolm and Anna, when they get cold, put on sweaters, it's because that's when Vincent arrives (and because Vincent shares the same visions as Cole, it tends to get cold whenever Vincent or Cole are around...)
Seems kinda extraneous info at first; OK so it's cold, why break up the drunken celebration that should lead to a sex scene in order to put on more clothes?!!?

AHA! That's why!

sure, there is dialogue going on throughout the sequence, but including the chill and requiring the sweaters seems unnecessary, until we understand the context and subtext involving Vincent's appearance to end the sequence.

Is this a good example of that sort of 'telling-visual' thing??




A terrific one!
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