The brilliance of great art is in its ability to craft a world of its own. This is all the more true for cinema, because the filmmaker takes us on a journey into a different world with each of his movies, as we acquaint ourselves with people of that world, sharing their joy and sorrow as we are made to feel a sense of belonging. However real it may feel like (it may even be based on a true story), there always artifice in cinema, but a great artist will never let you feel it; we would always be invested in his world and his characters.
However, there are instances where a director makes a creative decision not to completely mask the artifice. We, the audience and the characters in the movie are both are made aware of the illusion of the art, as the director breaks down the fourth wall. To put it simply, the characters know that they are fictitious and the audience is made aware that they are only watching a movie. Sometimes, it is done so that the character can talk directly to the audience; sometimes it is done to make a subtle allusion as to the artifice of the work. Either way, it is not easy to pull off a breaking-the-fourth-wall moment, because it can easily backfire and feel gimmicky. But when executed well, it is a stroke of genius which can leave the audience dumbstruck. Here is the list of top movies which breaks the fourth wall.
10. Fight Club
I know that the first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about ‘Fight Club’, but ironically, it happens to be one of the most talked about movies in cinema history. The tale of Tyler Durden and his army of ordinary men wrecking anarchy in a commercialized capitalistic world, ‘Fight Club’ is one of the most culturally significant movies of the 1990s. David Fincher brings in a sense of raw exhilarating energy into the movie, as we connect to the story of a man bored to death by his nondescript existence and how he responds to his predicament.
Fincher all but admonishes the audience for our meaningless lives and how we are content with them; he drives home the point that consumerism has taken over lives and how we are all just nameless, faceless droids in the larger scheme of things. So, when he breaks the fourth wall, it is not a gimmick; when Tyler looks straight into the camera and bemoans your sorry lives, he wants you to feel your misery, one that you might have kept bottled deep within yourself to rationalize your actions. He wants you look up and take control of your life. A stroke of genius, if you ask me.
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