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Fourth Wall

Related: metafiction - Luigi Pirandello - self-referentiality - suspension of disbelief

Medium Cool (1969) - Haskell Wexler [Amazon.com]

In Medium Cool, a gas grenade goes off very close to the camera, and a shout is heard: "Look out, Haskell, it's real!". This is a reference to the film's director/camerman, Haskell Wexler. In the film's last shot, the camera pans and zooms in - on Wexler, pointing his camera at the camera. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_wall [May 2004]

In Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, the fourth wall is not even there to be broken down. Some actors are getting ready for rehearsal when six characters whose author has died, leaving them incomplete, enter the room. The director decides to include the characters in the play they are rehearsing and soon all the lines between fiction and reality have disappeared. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_wall [May 2004]


Specifically in a proscenium theater, the term fourth wall applies to the imaginary invisible wall at the front of the stage in a theater through which the audience sees the action in the world of the play. In an arena theater, or theater-in-the-round, all four walls are in effect "fourth walls." One also speaks of a fourth wall in fictional realms, in literature, movies, television, radio, comic books, and other forms of entertainment.

The term signifies the suspension of disbelief by the audience, who are looking in on the action through the invisible wall. The audience thus pretends that the characters in the story are real "living" beings in their own world, and not merely actors performing on a stage or studio set, or written words on the pages of a book. In order for the fourth wall to remain intact, the actors must also, in effect, pretend that the audience does not exist, by staying in character at all times and by not addressing the audience members directly. Most such productions rely on the fourth wall.

The term breaking the fourth wall is used in film, theater, television, and literary works; it refers to a character directly addressing an audience, or actively acknowledging (through breaking character or through dialogue) that the characters and action going on is not real. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_wall [May 2004]

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