Self-Consciousness and The Sixth Sense

Lavik addresses in his essay what he believes to be the idea of self consciousness and how it relates to The Sixth Sense.  He first draws the connection that a typical hollywood film is a lot less self-conscious than, say, and art cinema film.  He argues that hollywood films tend to hide the process of narration while “ordinarily, art films encourage us to contemplate the narrational process as we are watching.”  Therefore, Lavik continues on to discuss how The Sixth Sense comes across as being both self-conscious and not self-aware depending on which time you watch the film.  For the first time viewer, the film likely focuses on the causal relationships between the characters.  The viewer is not really aware of the construction of the syuzhet and is more focused on trying to create and concrete their fabula.    Lavik then addresses how the film becomes very self-conscious during the second viewing as the audience is focused on scrutinizing the film process.  The viewers will then judge the film based on the process and credibility of the producers.  And finally, they will ask: Did the filmmakers trick us by showing us false information in the syuzhet? or were they honest throughout the process of the narrative?  Lavik summarizes it best as he says “We might say than that The Sixth Sense‘s narration is highly self-conscious, but only retrospectively.”

Given this interpretation of The Sixth Sense (which I find very reasonable), I have a few questions about Bordwell’s initial definition of self-consciousness.  As Lavik discusses, self-consciousness seems to be how aware the viewer is of the the process of narration.  Does the viewer notice the constructedness of the film through many things including jump cuts, long fades, and discontinuous editing?   Or is the film less self-conscious because the viewer is unaware of the film medium that is creating this narrative.

This definition is not really the same as the one we talked about in class, and therefore I am confused.  In class we explained self-consciousness to be the character’s awareness that they are telling the story or are part of a film.  For example, Annie Hall was decided to be very self-conscious because Woody Allen often addresses the audience as he knows he is directly part of the syuzhet.  But this is very different than Lavik’s definition of the viewer being aware that they are told a story through film narrative.  Which one of these is right?  Are they both part of self-consciousness?  What would Bordwell say?

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