The 4th wall is an expression stemming from the world of theater. In most modern theater design, a room will consist of three physical walls, as well as a an imaginary fourth that serves to separate the world of the characters from that of the audience. This wall is broken when the when the product becomes aware of the audience. This can happen when if the character looks straight into the camera or talks to the audience acknowledging their presences.
An example of this is in “Deadpool” where character Deadpool consistently talks to the audience or at the very end of “The Revenant” where the protagonist looks dead straight into the camera to acknowledge the audience.
Reasons for breaking the 4th wall is because If the fourth wall is the rule, and it’s broken by specific choice at specific times, then it breaks up the audience’s investment in the play. If the director wants the audience to listen to the argument of the film rather than get invested in its emotional story, breaking the fourth wall is a way to ensure this.
It can also be used to implicate the audience. If a character murders another character, then looks right at the audience and addresses them, then the audience is implicated as people who watched a murder and did nothing. This choice is often made in social issues theatre, where they want the audience to shake off their complacency regarding some issue in the world.
A great example of breaking the 4th wall is “House of Cards”. We watch Frank Underwood do terrible things to people that we like much more than him, but we cheer for him while he does it because he talks to us. He helps us understand why he’s doing it. Kevin Spacey, who plays role, talks about how the camera or the audience is his ‘best friend’, he casts us as the only person he trusts, and we, subconsciously, don’t want to betray that trust.
For my short film i am going to break the 4th wall at the very end then it cuts to black and the credits. I want to break the 4th wall as it is a symbol for my protagonist coming back to reality as he leaves this fake social media life and goes out to the real world and breaking the 4th is the best way to acknowledge this as the audience represent the real world.