New documentary explains the art of ‘breaking the fourth wall’

[‘Direct address,’ in which a mediated person or other social actor seems to look at and talk to the viewer, clearly can evoke a sense of presence; when it happens suddenly and unexpectedly it’s called ‘breaking the fourth wall’; the new 8:21 minute documentary described in this story from Design TAXI explains with lots of examples. While it notes the ways the technique breaks presence (though it doesn’t use that term), it also points (at 5:52) to how the technique increases ‘intimacy’ and ‘pulls us in.’ For an entertaining compilation of examples watch Press Play’s 8:38 minute video; for a narrated 11:22 minute countdown of the Top 10 4th Wall Breaks in Film, see WatchMojo’s video; and for a detailed discussion with individual clips, read the post on Screens and stages. –Matthew]

Homer Simpson breaks the 4th wall

Interesting Documentary Explains The Art Of Breaking The Fourth Wall In Film

By John Yong, 24 Aug 2015

‘Breaking the fourth wall’ is a term that’s used in film or theatre, in which a character acknowledges the audience or becomes aware of his or her fictional nature.

One classic example is Marvel anti-hero Deadpool, who often breaks the fourth wall by talking directly to comic book readers, and being aware that he’s a fictional character.

YouTube channel Now You See It has created an interesting documentary that explores breaking the fourth wall in greater detail.

Titled ‘How to Break the Fourth Wall’, the video highlights some of the most memorable fourth wall breaks in film, and the effects that they had on the audience.


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