Proscenium Reveal


(permanent link) added: 2010-08-30 21:31:41 sponsor: laughingacademy (last reply: 2010-08-30 23:24:08)

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The device which makes it clear that the scene we're watching is a part of a show within the show or simulation. Examples could include a director calling "Cut!"; a line flub or dialogue prompt; the sudden appearance of a camera or sound crew; or a pan, zoom or cut that reveals the action is occurring in a theatre, a soundstage, a classroom, or on location.

A Proscenium Reveal may end a Fake Action Prologue or the Kobayashi Maru. In a Music Video, it can indicate that we've been been On a Soundstage All Along.

When done accidentally In-Universe, it often means the hero just ruined the shot.

Not to be confused with Breaking the Fourth Wall, in which the characters acknowledge their fictional status and/or the existence of the audience (i.e., you).

Note: Proscenium reveals can be mind screws for the audience, especially if they occur late in the proceedings. (David Lynch, I'm looking at you.) When citing such cases, consider tagging for spoilers.

Examples

Film -- Live Action
  • The dismantling of Buster Keaton's "bedroom" in "The Playhouse."
  • In the original Fame, one of the main characters is monologuing about his mother. It looks like an interview, until he flubs a line and we realize it's an audition.
  • Zig-Zagged in the climax of Blazing Saddles, where the action is somehow "real" even though it's shown to be happening on a Hollywood soundstage -- and eventually most of the backlot -- during the climactic Battle Royale With Cheese.
  • The cartoon short starring Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman at the start of Who Framed Roger Rabbit is cut short by a human director calling "Cut!" This is followed by shots establishing that the animated characters are working on a live-action soundstage, thus setting up the concept of humans and toons living in the same world.
  • The entrance of Admiral Kirk in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ends the Trope Namer for the Kobayashi Maru.
  • Meryl Streep flubbing a line during The Oner that opens Postcards From The Edge.
  • The cry of "That's a wrap!" and the applause following Laura Dern's "death scene" in the David Lynch film Inland Empire.
  • In the Club Silencio sequence of David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, Rebekah Del Rio collapses during her performance of "Llorando" yet we continue to hear her singing, which causes Betty and Rita (and the viewers) to realize she had been lipsyncing.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand opens with an action-packed scene in burning city ruins, but it is revealed to be just a Danger Room simulation after the Fastball Special.

Animated Film
  • The first scene of Bolt ends with Penny picking up Bolt and walking away from their vanquished foes -- to a trailer with Bolt's name on the door. As they step inside, a bell rings, and the film crew wander into shot and start striking the set, while the dead bodies get up and walk away.
  • The instructor critiquing a monster's performance in the training simulation that opens Monsters, Inc..

Television
  • The Supernatural episode "Hollywood Babylon" opens with two terrified twenty-somethings, Wendy and Brody, in the woods. Brody runs away; Wendy calls for her friends, hears a noise, turns toward the camera, and screams -- unconvincingly, at a tennis ball stuck on top of a movie camera. "Cut!" calls the director. "Wendy" is actually Tara Benchley, the lead actress of Hell Hazers 2.

Theater
  • In Kiss Me Kate, just before the overture reaches its final chords the conductor cuts it off and asks, "Is that all right, Mr. Graham?" Fred enters and says, "Yes, the cut's good, leave it in."
  • Noises Off opens with a housekeeper walking on stage and nattering into the phone. Then as she's walking off, she says "I take the sardines... I leave the sardines..." and an off-stage director's voice says "You take the sardines, and you leave the newspaper." This reveals that what you're actually watching is a rehearsal of a Play Within a Play.
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