The idea of watching a Bruce Willis movie that doesn’t involve him saving the world wearing a dirty vest seems almost a contradiction in the terms of reference associated with this actor. Films such as ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Die Hard’ have carved a reputation for him as the almost stereotypical tough guy cast in the same mold as earlier screen heroes such as John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. However, in the film ‘The Sixth Sense’ Bruce Willis is both sensitive and compulsively convincing as the child psychologist with a mission. The story involves a young boy who sees spirits and can converse with them. Bruce Willis’s character is called in to psychoanalyse the child when the boy’s paranormal gifts extend to stigmatic lesions and poltergeist like phenomena occurs around him. The medical practitioners initially believe that the boy is being injured by his single parent mother, whilst the child himself is too afraid to discuss the truth of his psychic powers. The story is surely familiar to a number of readers of this journal, many mediums have had early encounters with the spirit world as children. No matter if you have had such experiences or have not, you simply must see this film.
There is a problem that psychic children face in trying to tell people that they can ‘see’ spirits and talk with them. Some are lucky enough to be raised by aware parents who know that there is another world that exists alongside the physical land in which we as incarnate beings live. Others are less fortunate and receive dire warnings that they are evil and must never talk about ‘ghosts’ as they are the devil in disguise trying to trick them into losing their immortal souls. Such medieval nonsense is little better than telling children that the ‘Bogey Man’ will get them if they are naughty. As adults we owe a duty of care to our children and responding to their honest accounts of interactions with spirits by issuing threats and intimidation is to fail in that duty.
As a child I myself saw visions of another world, a place where pyramids were being built in a far away land. To me, as a boy of five or six years of age, these visions were fantastic and exciting. To my parents they were the ramblings of a silly little boy who must never speak of such things. My mother and father were not being cruel, nor were they thoughtless in their actions in denying my truth, they simply did not know. Perhaps the religious beliefs of my parents coloured their perception of my strange stories of a country I visited from the twilight world of my bedroom. I soon learnt that telling people that there was a wonderful place far away that I went to through the wallpaper on my wall was not acceptable. In fear of being ridiculed, or worse, I ceased to speak of my visions and, in time, they vanished.
The Fleetwood based medium Margaret Eccles told me of her first encounter with the spirit world. She was just a child and had been left to care for her baby sister whilst their mother made the evening meal. As Margaret crayoned a picture in her colouring book her sister, who had been asleep on the couch, got up, tripped and fell into the coal fire, she was burnt to death. The next night, as young Margaret lay in bed crying, her sister’s spirit returned to comfort her and say she was alive and well in the next world. When she told her mother the good news Margaret received a terrible shock, she was branded a liar and sent to stay with grandmother. The traumatic effect that the rejection of her truth had on young Margaret has never left her. To this day she can clearly recall the awful feeling of sadness that she experienced as her own mother denied the reality of her daughter’s return.
There is a famous book on the subject of childhood mediumship, ‘The Boy Who Saw True’ is the published diary of a young man who had the ability to see and talk to both spirits and elemental beings, such as gnomes and fairies. In this book the boy is befriended by his private tutor, who listens to him and believes what the child tells him. Throughout the book there is an unwritten feeling that without the understanding and encouragement of the child’s adult friend the sixth sense that the boy had would have been denied and would subsequently have vanished.
The well known author and broadcaster; Joe Cooper of Leeds, wrote the highly readable and erudite examination of two young cousins that had psychic powers. In his book ‘The Case of the Cottingley Fairies’ published by Simon & Schuster, Joe explores the possibility that whilst most of the photographs of fairy people taken by the two girls, Elsie and Frances, were fakes, there may well have been some truth in their claims. Joe Cooper is not a man to be fooled easily, his personal academic standing is beyond doubt and he is quite sure that the two girls did see fairies in Cottingley glen. Their attempts to prove the existence of these elemental beings to doubting adults led them to manufacture evidence. Joe Cooper was the man that solved the case of the Cottingley fairies, which he did by interviewing the two cousins and securing a confession. However, right to the last both Frances and Elsie insisted that there were fairies in Cottingley Glen. Joe’s book is still available and is good evidence that there exists reasonable doubt that despite everything Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths were, as children, gifted with a sixth sense. Which brings me back to the Bruce Willis film.
As adults we are immersed in the detail of living in this martial and increasingly materialistic world. So many of us forget that to be alive in a physical body is a gift to cherish. We are captives of the everyday problems of life in the age of high tech society, with its VCR remote controls, Digital TV, washing machines that require programming, instead of dolly tubs that required muscles, the technology traps us. With all the paraphernalia that goes with Year 2,000 living, we have little time for the innocence of our childhood. Often we block out the psychic messages that surrounded us in our youth. Shades of the prison house of materialism lock us into a tangible world of hard facts and scientific ‘certainty’. Not so the children, they are open to use their psychic channels, their sixth sense, until we, with our authority and rules, close them down and turn them into 21st century technologically correct people, people who do not see spirits.
At the risk of repeating myself let me be clear, you must go and see ‘The Sixth Sense’ it is a wonderfully evocative and sensitive film that will, I believe, bring the joy of the truth of eternal life to countless millions of people. It is a film, a work of fiction, but it has within it that magical element that transcends the medium, bringing with it that unmistakable essence of truth. There is no death, only eternal and sometimes glorious life. Go and see ‘The Sixth Sense’ I promise you it will reinforce your beliefs not only in life after physical death but in the magic of cinema as a true work of art.