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M. Night Shyamalan Used An Extreme Method To Pull Off That Iconic Sixth Sense Scene

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When “The Sixth Sense” was released in 1999, fans arrived in droves to see the story behind the few minutes they were already exposed to when its trailer dropped months before. However, the majority were probably not aware that little Haley Joel Osment, when uttering the iconic line, “I see dead people,” had no CGI or movie tricks used to provide the below-freezing breath that escaped his mouth. That’s because writer/director M. Night Shyamalan decided it would be more realistic to put the 11-year-old into actual freezing conditions.

Osment recalled to Variety that CGI effects weren’t nearly as impressive as they are today, so Shyamalan decided to add in some actual chilled air. “What they did was they would drape this huge plastic sheeting over the sets and then pump in freezing cold air so that it would be below freezing, and you could see our breath,” Osment explained. Although pretty harsh for a young actor, Osment already understood the benefit of this tactic. “It’s a tough environment, but it’s great when you’re in a scene where you’re supposed to be frightened and shivering and it really is that cold. You can actually use real elements in those situations,” he said. 

As for Shyamalan, he reiterated the fact CGI wasn’t what it was now, so this was the best way to get his desired effect. However, despite today’s advances in movie-magic technology, he stands by the practical effect being the best option. Shyamalan explained, “[Osment] wasn’t acting, it was cold, and you could see the physicality on his skin and the way he’s shivering. And even now, with CGI, I might do it the same way because of what it makes the actors do.”

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