The Sixth Sense

by KE Monahan Huntley

The Sixth Sense is a ghost story, but unlike The Blair Witch Project the ghosts are visible (along the lines of Dickens' restless specters) and the Dramatica grand argument story quite distinct. Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan performs a neat mind trick upheld by sharp storytelling that, upon replaying the narrative, answers all pertinent questions.

The opening sequence outlines the impetus for Dr. Malcolm Crowe's (main character) drive. A renowned child psychologist, his past (mc concern) is visited upon him with a violent suddenness (objective story driver-action). A former patient, grown up and still anguished, puts himself out of his misery by shooting Malcolm and then committing suicide. The good doctor did not understand (os story concern) the nature of his demons.

The next fall, the psychologist finds himself diagnosing an acutely sad and suspicious (influence character unique ability) young boy whose problems (desire) are uncannily similar -- offering Malcolm a chance for redemption (judgment-good). Malcolm and Cole Sear conceptualize (relationship story concern) a way (limit-optionlock) to help each other, and in turn help others understand (os goal) the troubled child's gift.

The four throughlines are uncommonly well balanced. The main and influence characters are fully developed. Although Malcolm and Cole's interactions in the relationship story are the film's focal point, the roles the main and influence characters fulfill as objective characters in the overall story are clearly defined and key to the story's resonance -- particularly exemplified by Cole's triumphant acceptance (ic resolve-steadfast) of his abilities (ic solution).

"Out of the depths I cry to you, oh Lord." An otherworldly plea treated with compassion in this fine Dramatica grand argument story, transforms The Sixth Sense from a "freak" show to one of benevolent humanity.

NOTE: Since the time of this article's publication, it has been determined that the storyform presented above was inaccurate in regards to several key story points: most notably the selection of Main Character and Influence Character Domains (the correct ones would be Mind and Universe, respectively) and the Story Driver (which should be Decision). The official storyform analysis page has been corrected to reflect these changes.

About the Author

KE Monahan Huntley is an editor and publisher based in Southern California. As one of the original contributors to Dramatica, she helped edit and analyze many of the examples. In addition, her numerous articles provided an insightful "conversational" approach to the theory. Today she can be found at Write Between the Lines or follow her on Twitter @kemhuntley.

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