Breaking the 4th Wall
4th Wall is an imaginary wall between the stage and the audience in a theatrical play. If a room is being shown then only the set has 3 walls and the 4th wall is the one through which the audience would see the play. The idea of 4th wall was made explicit by philosopher and critic Denis Diderot and spread in 19th-century theatre. This concept has now extended to movies as well.
Breaking the 4th Wall is a term referred to when the characters on the screen interact with the audience. This should not be confused with narration. One of the recent movies which had used this technique is Kadhalil Sodhapuvadhu Eppadi. The entire movie is handled in a way where the lead character is talking to the audience about the the love and breakup with his girlfriend.
Another example for breaking the 4th wall is from the Woody Allen’s Annie Hall
Watch the following opening sequence from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day off. This is another movie which broke the 4th wall and had the main character interact with the audience throughout the movie.
Breaking the 4th wall when used appropriately based on the demands of the script would engage the audience at a different level. However this may not be appropriate for all the movies. This technique is also often used in movies or TV shows targeted for kids.
There is a also an extension of the 4th wall concept which is termed as 5th wall. This is an imaginary wall that exists between the film critics and the film makers. This deals with the barriers in engagement with the film critics and the makers.