erik lundegaard

Breaking the Fourth Wall

For the past few weeks, Patricia and I have been watching all 13 episodes of Netflix's new show, “House of Cards,” in which Kevin Spacey's character, Rep. Frank Underwood (D-SC), keeps breaking the fourth wall, a la Richard III, to tell us his inner thoughts and potential schemes and means to power. It's fun, and Spacey does it impeccably.

I mentioned this at work the other day and one of my colleagues brought up a new YouTube video that compiles great fourth-wall breakers, from, yes, Richard III, to  Alvy Singer to Superman:

Not sure why they began the way they began. With a literal breaking of a wall? The “Blazing Saddles” stuff is less fourth-wall-breaking and more self-referential, isn't it? The James Bond, too, is post-modern/meta. I would've begun with Rob Gordon in “High Fidelity.” He gives you your structure.

Plus there's a whole lot more Groucho they could've done.

But the “Sweet Transvestite” number—Dr. Frankenfurter leading to Belushi to Damien to Norman Bates—is inspired.

Is fourth-wall breaking better for comedy and horror? To make us laugh or scare us? Seems to.

What's your favorite example? How would you rank them? I might put Norman Bates No. 1: When the voyeur, being watched (by us), watches back; when he reclaims that power.

Missing scenes? Off the top of my head, and besides Groucho, I'd go with Eddie Murphy in “Trading Places”: “... pork bellies, which is used to make bacon, which you might find in a bacon and lettuce and tomato sandwich.” Then the look.


Posted at 07:53 AM on Fri. Mar 22, 2013 in category Movies  
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COMMENTS

kristin wrote:

the office :)

Comment posted on Fri. Mar 22, 2013 at 08:11 AM

Erik wrote:

Jim totally stole that look from Billy Ray Valentine. Or Funky Winkerbean.

Comment posted on Fri. Mar 22, 2013 at 08:22 AM

Will wrote:

It's funny that they put my two favorites (Belushi and The Omen) right next to each other. Two great examples of implicating the audience.

Comment posted on Fri. Mar 22, 2013 at 09:48 AM

Mister B wrote:

That Eddie Murphy look from “Trading Places” literally put a friend of mine on the floor of the theatre in hysterics. It still gets me, though not quite that much.

Comment posted on Fri. Mar 22, 2013 at 09:58 AM

Jason wrote:

Here's a sly example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ja63b5O8Tk&feature=player_detailpage#t=175s

Jolie dips out of frame suggestively, Pitt turns and gives a knowing wink at the audience, except he's not! I love how coy and playful Liman is with offscreen space.

Comment posted on Fri. Mar 22, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Erik wrote:

Jason, that is nice.

Will, I like that: Implicating the audience. Certainly Belushi does. “Stick with me, fellas.”

Comment posted on Fri. Mar 22, 2013 at 12:23 PM

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