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Friday night at the movies, weeper edition

Shakes Sis always comes up with great questions of the day. I always want to rip them off because I want to know how Blenders will answer. We share a lot of readers, but I’ve got commenters that aren’t over at her pad.

The other day she asked “what movie scenes always make you cry?” She got a ton of responses.

I posted my personal recollection there, and when I decided to expand on it here, I wanted to correctly describe how the scene in question unfolds, since I haven’t seen the film in a couple of years…

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999) had a profound effect on me, and I saw it twice when it was in theatres and bawled like a baby each time. It was a wonderful film, but its impact was so strong because it came out at a time when I was still very raw from my mother’s death of lung cancer at 62.

At the time I was quite perplexed at the comments about the film being scary, a horror film, creepy, etc. I found the film deeply spiritual (even for this non-practicing Episcopalian), almost soothing for someone still in the throes of grief at a sudden, difficult loss.

In the film, there is scene in a car where Cole (Haley Joel Osment) and his mom Lynn (Toni Collette) are stuck in traffic because of an accident where a cyclist has been killed. Cole can see the dead cyclist, who appears outside the window. He then admits to his mother that the deceased grandmother comes to visit and talks to him.

He is able to prove to his skeptical mom that he is in contact with the grandmother by sharing with her a story that only she and the grandmother can know — that she did go see Lynn dance in a recital when Lynn thought she didn’t come after an argument. The grandmother also told Cole an answer to a question that his mom asked when visiting the grandmother’s gravesite.

The grandmother told him the answer was: “Every day.”

Cole says plaintively, “What did you ask?”

Lynn begins to tremble and weep and responds: “Do I make her proud?”

Geez, I’m welling up even as I type this…sorry. Sigh. That’s exactly what I wondered, what ran through my mind after I watched my mom suddenly go code blue, as I sat in shock with my brother next to her lifeless body after the medics left the room.

***

One phenomenon that I noticed both times I saw the film in the theatre is that it was apparent from the random sobbing scattered about in the darkness — it wasn’t everyone — that only certain people absorbed the scene with that level of intensity. I asked friends later who saw it (not at the screenings I attended), what they thought of that scene. Many found it quite moving, but not overly so, or some saw it simply as the significant, well-executed plot turn that it is. Others were reduced to blubbering mush, like me. What I found, interestingly, was that those most affected had lost a close relative or parent not long ago.

It made me wonder about whether Shyamalan knew what he was tapping when he wrote the screenplay, or whether it was just one of those flukes of Hollywood magic, a combination of things that just cannot be planned that hit a raw emotional nerve in a large group of people in such a specific way.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding