Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Six Senses According To Film

In commemoration of M. Night Shyamalan’s recently released and outstanding, The Sixth Sense, starring Bruce Willis and newcomer Haley Joel Osment, we have decided to take a look at our favorite movies and how they either address or deal with the six senses.

Sight: Every David Lean film is a feast for the eyes, but Lawrence Of Arabia is far and away the most visually spectacular story ever filmed. Each frame a beautifully composed photograph, Lawrence Of Arabia is a sweeping historical epic chronicling the harrowing exploits of British Army general staffer, T.E. Lawrence as he unites warring Arab factions against the Turks.

Sound: Jurassic Park won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects. Experiencing the movie in Dolby surround sound (or THX SDDS in the theaters), you’ll understand way. A megalomaniac billionaire harvests prehistoric DNA to clone dinosaurs for his safari theme park island. And, of course, the plan goes horribly awry, unleashing the fury of velociraptors, brachiosaurs and T-rexes on park visitors. Offscreen, the T-rex approaches and your chair vibrates with each rumbling, Doppler-ized footstep.

Taste: Actor Stanley Tucci’s screenwriting and directorial debut, Big Night is the bittersweet tale of brothers Primo and Secondo who emigrate from Italy to America to open a restaurant serving authentic Italian cuisine. To their displeasure, they soon discover that American palates prefer the inauthentic food of neighboring Pascal’s. Nearing financial ruin, the brothers are forced to cook the food they so dislike, but even the American-ized Italian food in this movie is mouthwatering. Mangia! Mangia!

Touch: The Pillow Book, Peter Greenaway’s tragic love story, is one of the most highly-charged erotic films this side of pornography. The stunningly beautiful Nagiko is sexually obsessed with being painted with calligraphy because, as a child, her father painted birthday wishes on her face. She travels to Hong Kong to become a writer and meets Jerome, an Englishman, who requests she write her stories on his body. This takes a long time.

Smell: In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, moviehouse impresarios devised elaborate thrill-o-ramic theatergoing experiences to entice teenagers to the cinema for something other than making out in the balcony. These marvels of modern technology included 3D glasses, vibrating seats and smell-o-vision, an intricate process by which ushers would spray perfume at key moments in the film. Cult filmmaker John Waters re-instituted smell-o-vision for his 1981 release Polyester with his Odorama scratch-n-sniff cards which contained several revolting smells to coincide with revolting scenes from the movie.

ESP: The sixth sense refers to all kinds of psychic abilities from clairvoyance to trans-channeling, but in David Cronenberg’s Scanners, the sixth sense is the power to read minds and then make peoples’ heads explode. Like supervillain Thalidomide babies, the scanners are the children of mothers who were prescribed experimental drugs during pregnancy and use their psychic powers for evil.

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