Created By: neoYTPism on May 8, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on May 19, 2013

Scenery Dissonance

Unpleasant events occurring in settings that are pleasant to look at.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
"He was distressed to think that something so nasty could happen somewhere as idyllic as this."

Do We Have This One?? Oh, and I'm open to title suggestions. (That, and suggestions for alternate page images, or reasons for or against the current one.)

(EDIT: THIS TROPE DOES NOT YET HAVE A DEFINITION. While unpleasant events with pleasant scenery qualify as this trope, whether or not pleasant events in unpleasant scenery qualify is as of yet undecided. Reasons for or against this go in the comments section.)

A form of Mood Dissonance, this is when unpleasant scenarios are presented in settings with pleasant scenery, or pleasant scenarios are presented in settings with unpleasant scenery.

For the former, the impact of the whole can be more than that of the sum of its parts, whether because it seems a waste that the character enjoyment of the scenery is curtailed by the situation, or for whichever other reason.

Compare Crapsaccharine World, except that this refers to a moment rather than the setting. See also Daylight Horror.

Subjective, of course.

Examples:

Art
  • Often happens in painting. Pre-Raphaelites and similar do this. Ophelia is a good example that you have probably seen, in fact there are several different versions, though the definitive one is linked here. Defiantly not a dead-horse in art one might add.

Film
  • Many moments in Star Wars
  • Winter's Bone is a chain of horrible events, set in beautiful, snowy forests environments.
  • In In Bruges, the beauty of the titular city is a plot point. Almost all the main characters die. Some of them very gorily.
  • The movie The Rundown mostly takes place in beautiful South American jungles, contrasted with a brutally oppressed town and a lot of fast-paced gun violence...and some horny monkeys.
  • The original The Wicker Man - especially the final scene - was all about this.
  • The Thin Red Line is a recent-ish example of the "WWII in a tropical paradise" scenario mentioned above.
  • A lot of the ultraviolence in A Clockwork Orange takes place in picturesque surroundings: the abandoned casino, the writer's modernist house, the cat-lady's art gallery...

Literature
  • The Road contains some horrific things. Whether or not the washed-out, decaying landscape is beautiful or not can be debated.
  • Lord of the Flies takes place on a paradise island, and is about a group of schoolchildren growing increasingly savage and inhuman after losing contact with the civilized world.
  • The Republic Of Trees - a group of teenagers escape to the forest, trying to build a new society free from all the crap created by the adults and end up re-enacting the horrors of the French Revolution.
  • The nineteenth-century novel Lady Audleys Secret invokes this trope by specifically stating that though we might think of the English countryside as idyllic and pastoral, there are as many gruesome murders committed there as there are in the city.

Live-Action TV
  • Carnivāle takes place in some really scenic settings, and is features occasional horrifying violence.

Music
  • The Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song "Where the Wild Roses Grow" is a murder ballad set in a very pretty environment. The video is a nice supplement.

Tabletop Games
  • Deliberately invoked in the Vampire: The Requiem sourcebook Chronicler's Guide. It suggested that whenever the characters had a confrontation with The Devil, the scene should always be a nice, comfortable surrounding, like a children's playground or a perfumed and clean restroom.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • Humon, author of the Niels, pretty much stated that she loves this trope. One scene has Niels quietly enjoying a beautiful sunset... while two cops slowly drown under the dock he sits on.

Other
  • Truth in Television, as anyone who has looked at autumn scenery from a hospital room window could attest to.


EDIT: How do I make the image caption text smaller?
Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • May 8, 2011
    TwoGunAngel
    This is part of the reason that Crapsaccharine Worlds exist.
  • May 8, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    Cool trope, I don't think we have it. Terribly unclear picture, though.
    • Winters Bone is a chain of horrible events, set in beautiful, snowy forests environments.
    • The Road contains some horrific things. Whether or not the washed-out, decaying landscape is beautiful or not can be debated.
    • Lord Of The Flies takes place on a paradise island, and is about a group of schoolchildren growing increasingly savage and inhuman after losing contact with the civilized world.
  • May 8, 2011
    MetaFour
    Subtrope of Mood Dissonance. A few examples there might belong here.
  • May 8, 2011
    Fozi
    Heh, winters bone, made remind of something, anyway, don't you think the title's two long? How about "Problem In Paradise", or "They Want To Kill Me In Hawaii".

    Oh, and the image doesn't really give a clear example...
  • May 8, 2011
    captainbrass2
    • Many war films set in the Pacific during World War II - bloody battles on beautiful tropical islands. Truth In Television.

    I honestly can't tell what the picture is supposed to be showing.
  • May 8, 2011
    neoYTPism
    I decided to switch to Majoras Mask for now, then. I will see what else I can come up with later.
  • May 8, 2011
    hevendor717
    Hell looks like a pink and green crystalline palace in Final Fantasy 2.
  • May 9, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    Two more examples:
    • Carnivale takes place in some really scenic settings, and is features occasional horrifying violence.
    • In In Bruges, the beauty of the titular city is a plot point. Almost all the main characters die. Some of them very gorily.
    I haven't seen Fargo, but I suppose it's an example. Also, how about a cropped version of this as a picture?
  • May 10, 2011
    gawainster
    I recommend Windaria. It's an anime in which, well, EVER Ything goes pear-shaped toward the end. It's completely painful to watch the last fifteen minutes....not because it's awesomely bad, it's just downright sad. The environments are pretty, though. >>
  • May 10, 2011
    valbinooo
    A few spots in both Mass Effect games, most noticeably on Virmire.

    Also in Knights Of The Old Republic, Manaan. Beautiful water world. Bad things happen. And Taris, too; the whole planet gets bombed eventually.

    Another Star Wars movie example: The Empire Strikes Back, Bespin.
  • May 10, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Related to Mood Dissonance.
  • May 13, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Your example description could use some adjusting @ gawainster

    Oh, and I added randomsurfer's point to the description and valbinooo's examples to the example section.
  • May 15, 2011
    terrafox
    The movie The Rundown mostly takes place in beautiful South American jungles, contrasted with a brutally oppressed town and a lot of fast-paced gun violence...and some horny monkeys.
  • May 15, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    The Republic Of Trees - a group of teenagers escape to the forest, trying to build a new society free from all the crap created by the adults and end up re-enacting the horrors of the French Revolution
  • May 15, 2011
    neoYTPism
    I looked up "Republic Of Trees" and I found a book; not sure if any other medium did an adaptation of it though. In any case, were you referring to the book? @ Mozgwsloiku
  • May 17, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    Still don't like the image. 'Underwater' and 'Shark' doesn't seem like that much of a dissonance.
  • May 17, 2011
    neoYTPism
    The point is, associating the beauty of ocean scenery with the dangers of the ocean helps drive home the point of the trope.

    Feel free to propose an alternative, though.
  • May 18, 2011
    Rolf
    Is there a good picture of war in middle of beautiful landscape?
  • May 18, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    I did propose this a while up, but I'm not sure it would work as I doubt the film qualifies as an example of the trope.
  • May 19, 2011
    neoYTPism
    ^ Meh, it's not bad, but I think my case is more obviously an example. I'll consider it, though.
  • May 19, 2011
    TTurtle
    The nineteenth-century novel Lady Audleys Secret invokes this trope by specifically stating that though we might think of the English countryside as idyllic and pastoral, there are as many gruesome murders committed there as there are in the city.
  • May 20, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    I'd say this trope is related to Daylight Horror, and I think several examples could be harvested from there. Oh, and a music example:
    • The Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song Where the Wild Roses Grow is a murder ballad set in a very pretty environment. The video is a nice supplement.
    Also, I haven't played American Mc Gees Alice, but I think it would be an example. If expensive yuppie apartments count as beautiful, I think American Psycho is an example as well. Oh, and I have another image suggestion.
  • May 20, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Nice, I went with it @ Artistic Platypus
  • May 21, 2011
    Rolf
    Yeah much better picture. :)

    Of course theres ton of real life examples. Like native tribes fighting among beautiful forest, so on.
  • May 22, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Better to use a fictional one, though, or at least that is what shimaspawn recommends.

    I guess another benefit is that if someone finds out where it is from I can pothole to it.
  • May 31, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    The image, you mean? It was grabbed from the music video, so pothole it to Nick Cave.
  • May 31, 2011
    NetMonster
    I recommend the title Scenery Dissonance (more laconic).
  • May 31, 2011
    EternalSeptember
  • May 31, 2011
    Rolf
    ^ and ^^ yeah i like it
  • June 1, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    Scenery dissonance implies that the trope also covers the inversion: Tender and sweet scenes set in ugly landscapes. Should the trope be expanded, should we try to come up with a new name, or should I be dismissed as a grammar nazi?

    Oh, and I think I found some stuff that could work as page quotes.

    "Listen, I'm just glad that I was able to do something for the boy before he went. [...] You know, have him get to see Bruges. I'd like to go to see Bruges again before I die. [...] Give me a call when he's dead." ~ Harry, In Bruges

    And

    "He was distressed to think that something nasty could happen to somewhere as idyllic as this." ~ Life The Universe And Everything
  • June 1, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Come to think about it, Beautiful Environments Ugly Situations is too narrow. I will go with the Artistic Platypus suggestion. including both the expanded form and the second page quotation.
  • June 2, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    In that case, should the examples section be split into two parts?
  • June 2, 2011
    batgirl1
    I vote yes for splitting.

    Also,
    • Humon, author of the Web Comic Niels, pretty much stated that she loves this trope. One scene has Niels quietly enjoying a beautiful sunset... while two cops slowly drown under the dock he sits on.
  • June 5, 2011
    Hadashi
    Often happens in painting. Pre-Raphaelites and similar do this.

    Ophelia is a good example that you have probably seen, in fact there are several different versions, though the definitive one is linked bellow:

    http://toffsworld.com/lifestyle/art-information/pre-raphaelites/#axzz1OPJhm4HY

    Defiantly not a dead-horse in art I might add.
  • June 5, 2011
    Umptyscope
    The original The Wicker Man - especially the final scene - was all about this.
  • June 11, 2011
    neoYTPism
    How so @ Umptyscope
  • July 4, 2011
    neoYTPism
    So, anyone else want to pitch in on whether to limit this to pleasant scenery and unpleasant examples or to include the opposite?
  • July 5, 2011
    ChimbleySweep
  • July 6, 2011
    neoYTPism
    Mentioned @ Chimbley Sweep
  • July 10, 2011
    captainbrass2
    The Thin Red Line is a recent-ish example of the "WWII in a tropical paradise" scenario mentioned above.
  • July 10, 2011
    LeeM
    A lot of the ultraviolence in A Clockwork Orange takes place in picturesque surroundings: the abandoned casino, the writer's modernist house, the cat-lady's art gallery...
  • July 10, 2011
    Ajardoor
    Deliberately invoked in the Vampire The Requiem sourcebook Chronicler's Guide. It suggested that whenever the characters had a confrontation with The Devil, the scene should always be a nice, comfortable surrounding, like a children's playground or a perfumed and clean restroom.
  • May 18, 2013
    RTanker
    Warhammer40000: Rites of War is set on an Eldar maiden world, and the scenery is therefore one of the most beautiful settings imaginable for a planet-wide war.
  • May 18, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Live-Action TV

    • Some episodes of The X-Files had Monsters Of The Week occurring in pristine natural or wooded settings, such as the gorgeous Olympic National Forest in Washington State plagued by mysterious man-eating insects, or the lake in Georgia where "Big Blue" lurked, or the Myth Arc abduction events (and a later massacre, where victims were burned to death) at Skyline Mountain in Virginia.
    • V-2009: The interior of the Visitor ship above New York contained a huge spacious atrium with many gardens and parklike areas, a bit suggestive of Crystal Spires And Togas. A lot of the plotting of the conquest of humanity took place on the decks overlooking this scenery.
  • May 18, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    • Happened on Babylon 5 sometimes. A few examples:
      • The sunny well-manicured gardens of the Royal Palace on Centauri Prime, where the severed head of Mr. Morden was mounted on a pike ("Into the Fire").
        • The Palace gardens were also the setting of the disturbing scene where Emperor Cartagia is washing blood from his hands, and lamenting to Londo about the ineffectiveness of his "pain technicians" in getting prisoner G'Kar to "give him a scream".
        • A lot of scenes of Cartagia doing something disturbing are set in brightly lit pretty places around the palace (or the palace built on occupied Narn), such as his ornate throne room. (Interestingly enough, many palace rooms seem more brightly lit--actually airy and sunny--during Cartagia's reign (with the exception of that infamous darkened room where he kept and "conferred with" the heads of executed ministers who'd displeased him)--certainly moreso than during Londo's or the Regent's, or even our brief glimpse of Turhan's before. I think this was to provide added dissonance--along with his light and cheery mannerisms--to emphasize his total psychopathic insanity.)
      • One of the gardens on the Babylon 5 station where a young eloping Centauri couple are assaulted and almost killed by members of Home Guard (a human anti-alien hate group) ("The War Prayer").
      • Morden and Londo plotting war against the Narn in the station's hedge maze (although this was no doubt symbolic of the tangled webs being weaved, so to speak).
      • Earth Dome was the capital complex located in beautiful Geneva, Switzerland. The scene in "Matters of Honor" where officials in the inner loop of the Shadow conspiracy were meeting with Morden and discussing furthering "the program" of deceiving the population and furthering the Shadow agenda, was conducted in a nice bright sunny room there.

    (The last two may or may not fit, as these bright or pleasant settings are somewhat "dissonant" in terms of conspirators usually being shown meeting in darker rooms or settings--but inversions of that may be incidental enough to be Chairs so who knows. Not sure if you had mere discussion or conspiratorial talk of unpleasant things in mind for "unpleasant scenarios".)
  • May 19, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    • The scene in the miniseries-pilot of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined at Gaius Baltar's beautiful lakeside home on Caprica (with him in the arms of his gorgeous but manipulative lover Number Six), right when the nukes hit.

    (Not sure if pre-disaster scenes like this are what you had in mind, as I think they may be common enough to not be "dissonant" to the viewer (and may even be their own trope)--it is pretty common to enhance the shock of a sudden cataclysm by filming a particularly beautiful or peaceful setting or city getting it.)
  • May 19, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Along with WWII movies set in the Pacific Theatre, Vietnam War movies might have similar scenes of lush beautiful jungle or beaches, and violence.

    One kind of strange one:

    Film

    • The iconic "surf" scene in Apocalypse Now, where US helicopters napalm a scenic tropical beach and take it, herding off the locals, and then the men go surfing on it.
      • The wild pristine scenery on the journey upriver also stands in contrast to some of the horrors encountered on it.

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