Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 OSCARS: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) - Breaking the 4th Wall is Possible (But Rare)

[Quick Summary: This is the story of Jordan Belfort's epic rise and fall on Wall Street.]

I always thought breaking the 4th wall was an absolute no-no.

But in this script, the characters speak to the camera THREE times.

For example:

"INT. JORDAN'S OFFICE - DAY (FEB '95)

Donnie pours champagne nearby, oblivious to Jordan, who sits at his desk, speaking directly to camera:

JORDAN: Of the two million shares being offered for sale, a million belonged to me, held in phony accounts by my ratholes. Once the price hit the high teens, I --

Jordan abruptly stops. A beat, then:

JORDAN: Like I said before, who gives a shit? As always, the point is this --

BACK TO SCENE -- Donnie hands Jordan a glass of Dom.

DONNIE: 22 million in three fucking hours!"

Usually this technique will pull the viewer out of the story.

However, it works here because:

- It's short and limited in use.

- It's used for a very specific reason, i.e., to show us that Jordan is only concerned with results, and is ballsy enough to say it to your face.

The writer also does a clever thing: He has Jordan speak to the camera ---> continue the conversation in the scene.  This blending keeps the momentum going and we do not feel any drag.


WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I now have seen how breaking the 4th wall is possible and effective.

However, I still place breaking the 4th wall at the top of my "Use With Extreme Caution" list.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
by Terence Winter
Based on the book by Jordan Belfort

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