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Breaking the Fourth Wall

Direct Address in the Cinema

Tom Brown

Hardback i (Printed to Order)
eBook (ePub) i
eBook (PDF) i

What happens when fictional characters acknowledge our 'presence' as film spectators? By virtue of its eccentricity and surprising frequency as a filmic device, direct address enables us to ask some fundamental questions of film theory, history and criticism and tackle, head-on, assumptions about the cinema as a medium. Brown provides a broad understanding of the role of direct address within fiction cinema, with focused analysis of its role in certain strands of avant-garde or experimental cinema, on the one hand, and popular genre traditions (musicals and comedies) on the other.

About the Author

Tom Brown is Lecturer in Film Studies at King's College London.


BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL is a probing study of the ways in which an actor or a character in a movie sometimes looks at the camera and addresses us in the audience. This is often taken simply to dispel the illusion, but in his book Tom Brown sensitively examines different forms of direct address and explicates how various and complex its effect can be.

- Gilberto Perez, Sarah Lawrence College