The fourth wall is the imaginary barrier which separates a story from the real world. When an actor is on screen, delivering their lines, there is no audience, no camera, just them - in their character, in the moment, in that world. It comes from theatre, where performances are done in front of a live audience and the stage represents a whole world removed from those watching.
Since the early years of cinema, the fourth wall has often been broken to elicit a reaction from the audience. Early examples can be found in the pictures of Laurel and Hardy, or in the Marx Brothers' films of the 1930s.
Usually used for comedy purposes in the aforementioned films, modern cinema has seen the fourth wall break occur a lot more often, and in many more genres.
Whether giving the audience exposition about what's playing out on screen, getting them involved in the feelings of the characters, or simply narrating the story as it plays, a fourth wall break is often very effective when used right - making the audience feel closer to the action and more sympathetic to the characters.
The following list will take a look at some of cinema's most effective examples of movies breaking the fourth wall, from the out-right classics and beyond.
WhatCulture contributor, aspiring author and lover of all things Buffy, zombie, TV and movie. Usually found rambling about how Jack Nicholson is the greatest actor of all time and watching the same six shows on repeat.