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Breaking the Fourth Wall: How to Use it Effectively

Breaking the fourth wall refers to when a character addresses the audience directly. Comics, Films, and even books use this technique for a variety of reasons. Sometimes its used for humor purposes. Other times its used to comment on the work itself. Still, there are instances when this can be distracting to the audience and it prevents the story from moving forward.

How can a balance be maintained?

  • Some interesting sources might be: Annie Hall, House of Cards, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Fight Club, Amélie, and The Wolf of Wall Street (film-wise). – Nicole Wethington 6 years ago
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  • I think the character Deadpool from Marvel has been an effective mode of breaking the 4th wall, and they have certainly used that for some great story arcs. Plus I think this is what made a show like the Office work so well. The 4th wall never even existed. It was a fictional reality show about a fake-real life company. I think they mastered the 4th wall without having to break it. – G Anderson Lake 6 years ago
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  • There are other more subtle examples like Bitter Rice, at the beginning of the film, or Back to the Future, with Doc. It'd be interesting to look at the different ways you can break the fourth wall, how far you can go and how does it contribute to the whole effect of the film on the audience. Charlie Chaplin is also a good shout – Rachel Elfassy Bitoun 6 years ago
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  • A play that has a good example in breaking the fourth wall is Hamlet. There are several times throughout the play that Hamlet addresses the audience mid-scene. – ChelseaOtis 6 years ago
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