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Contrast Montage

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A specific kind of montage or montage element: the subject of the montage is contrasted with a different character or situation, to maximize the drama.

Can be applied to other montages; for example, a Good Times and Sad-Times Montage, or a Training Montage that contrasts the hero's method against that of The Rival.

The Montage Out, Lost Love Montage and Really Dead Montage are all particularly likely to juxtapose positive and negative elements this way.

Compare Unreliable Voiceover. Super-Trope of Synchronized Morning Routine, two or more characters' Morning Routines are shown mirrored in the same scene.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The manga adaptation of Breath of Fire IV has the contrasting experiences of both Ryu and his counterpart, Fou-lu.
  • Death Note:
    • Episode 30 of has a montage towards the beginning that highlights Kira's adverse effects on ordinary people — then we cut the sound early to Demegawa's "I am here to tell you that Kira is justice!" Even moreso when we see Sachiko collapse into tears after receiving Soichiro's ashes.
    • There's also one very early, when Light starts scheduling people to die at a specific time. He gets happily on with his day while people die out of sight.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Black and White: "Good Evening, Midnight" cuts back and forth between Batman rescuing a Bus Full of Innocents and Alfred at home reading an old letter from Thomas Wayne about what he hopes Bruce will be like when he grows up, setting up a series of contrasts and ironic juxtapositions between the contents of the letter and the events of Bruce's evening.
  • The Ultimates: The eulogy for the people killed by Hulk is narrated over the scenes of the paramedics recovering the almost dead body of the Wasp.

    Fan Works 
  • Fantastic Foxes of Zootopia: MOM(S)! compares and contrasts the parenting styles of Nick's mother, Skye's mother, Retsuko's mother and Ash's mother, Felicity.
  • The Meaning of One: Harry and Ginny simultaneously watch the Dursley and Weasley families get ready for breakfast — even seeing Vernon Dursley and Arthur Weasley reading the newspaper and having a drink at the same time — but with stark differences between them. Vernon is irritable, while Arthur is calm. The Dursleys demand that Harry cook breakfast for everyone, with Petunia frowning suspiciously at him the whole time, while at the Burrow, Mrs Weasley offers to take care of it. The breaking point, however, is when Vernon slaps Harry's hand down into the table for attempting to take a piece of bacon to go with his single slice of toast, while Dudley has four slices of toast, six rashers of bacon, five sausages, and four eggs. Vernon apparently intends to reserve the rest of the bacon for him too. Once Harry is evacuated to the Weasleys' home, Mrs Weasley fills a plate to overflowing for him and tells him that "There's plenty more where that came from.".
  • Spots Off: Chapter 7 ends this way. On one hand you have Sabine and Tom reassuring Marinette that they're proud of her and everything she's achieved as Ladybug, and that she has their full support. On the other, you have Adrien writing a letter to his Control Freak father, trying in vain to convince Gabriel to permit him to publicly support Marinette. The latter segments are aligned to the right, cutting back and forth between both scenes.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas had one contrasting how Christmastown and Halloweentown prepared for Christmas.
  • The "Savages" musical number in Pocahontas showing the Colonists and the Natives preparing to go to war against each other, with emphasis on the irony of the two sides being so similar when each side sings about how the other side is not like them.
  • In Tangled, Rapunzel out of the tower turns into a Mood-Swinger, in a montage switching from delight at being outside and despair on how she defied her mother — with Flynn watching it all deadpan.
  • Team America: World Police: The "Montage" sequence, which is mainly a Training Montage, also features the Big Bad's preparations to complete his evil scheme.

    Films — Live-Action 

By Creator:

  • Sergei Eisenstein was a master at this.
    • Strike contrasts the simple meal of the workers' families dining together happily, with the rich fancy meal of their angry, evil boss who dines alone.
    • October, about the Red October revolution of 1917, takes a dim view of religion in accordance with Communist doctrine. The "masks of the gods" sequence contrasts Russian Orthodox icons with Buddhist statues and pagan carvings, suggesting that all religions are the same.

By Film:

  • A Corner in Wheat offers a very early example. This 1909 film intercuts between poor people in a bread line and the lavish parties of the speculator who caused their misery.
  • Downfall. Eva Braun typing out her irrelevant and frivilous last will against a background of mass destruction and Child Soldiers Driven to Suicide.
  • In Forbidden City Cop, the Cop's peaceful picnic with his wife is contrasted with the brutal deaths of the other Cops. Especially jarring since the cops' demises are immediately followed by events at the picnic that mirror their deaths as a creepy form of Relax-o-Vision.
  • From Hell has a montage contrasting the life of Dr. William Gull (the Queen's surgeon) and Mary Jane Kelly (a prostitute), showing how unfair Victorian life is.
  • In The Godfather, a christening is contrasted with a series of hits on rival mob bosses. Michael Corleone's promises to renounce Satan and "all his works" underscore the grisly scenes of the murders committed on his orders.
  • The Karate Kid (1984) has a battle montage contrasting Daniel's style — tentative, but growing in confidence — with the Cobra Kai's ruthless and calculated style.
  • Kill Your Darlings has an very uncomfortable sequence, cutting back and forth between shots of murder, anonymous sex, drug abuse, and learning of the death of a friend, showing how the different characters react to and create various tragedies.
  • King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis: This documentary film opens with a montage in which Martin Luther King, advocating for his own system of non-violence, is contrasted with a series of Angry Black Men advocating the more militant Black Power politics that came into vogue in the 1960s. One clip shows King reminding his audience that there are white people who also believe in civil rights, and some who died for it, like the two young white volunteers murdered in Mississippi, or Rev. James Reeb, beaten to death in Alabama. The film then cuts to H. Rap Brown telling an audience that "The time for talking is over, brothers. It's time for war," and saying that black people need to get guns. Cut to another clip of Martin Luther King saying that he will always advocate non-violence as a tactic.
  • The Mechanic (2011). Arthur Bishop and Steve McKenna using a variety of automatic weapons and a Barrett fifty-calibre rifle on an improvised firing range are alternated with scenes of Steve's daily routine with his chihuahua, which is meant to set up the interest of Steve's first target, a Manly Gay hitman who likes young men with cute dogs.
  • The Naked Face (1984) opens with the protagonist (a psychiatrist) listening to his patients, against scenes of a unseen assassin assembling a silenced rifle in a (failed) attempt to murder him.
  • The opening sequence of The Private Life of Henry VIII cuts back and forth between the grim scene of Anne Boleyn's execution and the happy, flirtatious fun of life at court as Henry's getting ready to marry Jane. It even has Anne say "What a beautiful day" as she stands on the block, only for Jane to say the exact same thing much more cheerfully back at court.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has a great one during the song At The Opera Tonight. It cuts between the Repo Man suiting up and Blind Mag lamenting her future, while they sing similar lines in tandem.
  • Rocky:
    • Rocky III: The opening montage explicitly contrasts Rocky's rich lifestyle with Clubber Lang's rough and tumble rise to the top.
    • Rocky IV: The Training Montage was all about this: Rocky's rustic Training from Hell is contrasted with Ivan Drago's super-scientific and soulless training regimen. This helps define the difference between the two fighters: Rocky has heart, while Drago is empty.
  • Titanic (1997) cuts between scenes of the fun and raucous party in steerage and the boring rich folks sitting around gossiping over brandy and cigars.
  • The Way Ahead (1944). Two retired veterans are griping about how easy soldiers have it these days, against a montage of those soldiers slogging through a tough assault course.

    Live Action TV 
  • The first episode of Agent Carter shows Peggy Carter making tea and getting dressed in her apartment in 1947, intercut with scenes from Captain America: The First Avenger of Peggy kicking ass and taking names during World War II. This sets up the theme of how Peggy is stuck doing mundane tasks now that the war is over and women are expected to Stay in the Kitchen.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In a fourth-season episode we cut back and forth between Buffy's team and the Initiative, both planning to capture the same monster. Buffy's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits brainstorms together, checks the books, and works things out, while the Initiative gives orders from superior to inferior, checks the (inaccurate) data files, and sticks to rigid orders.
  • Game of Thrones. At the start of "The Pointy End", Syrio Forel and Arya Stark are shown sparring with wooden swords while Lannister soldiers with real swords are shown massacring Arya's household. Then more Lannister soldiers turn up to detain Arya. From now on, for Arya the fighting and killing will be real.
  • The season 4 episode of House of Cards (US) that introduces Republican presidential nominee Will Conway uses this trope to contrast him from series protagonist and Democratic presidential nominee Frank Underwood. Conway enjoys spirited "good morning" sex on the bathroom counter with Hannah, while Frank stands alone in front of a bathroom vanity filled with recovery medications as Claire peeks in from a cautious distance. After the quickie with his spouse, Conway goofs around with one of his adorable moppet children; meanwhile, a subdued Frank discusses with Claire the importance of staying focused on their political agenda instead of worrying about their personal relationship.
  • House of the Dragon: Rhaenyra's and Daemon's passionate liaison in a pleasure house is intercut with Alicent having dispassionate and unpleasant sex with Viserys. The scene becomes even more powerful when Daemon tells Rhaenyra that sex should be pleasant for both woman and man. In the next shot, Alicent is the focus, doing her duty as a wife to the king, while Daemon talks about marriage being a duty, but that shouldn't stop anyone from fucking with whom they want and enjoying themselves. Unlike Alicent, for Rhaenyra, her first sexual experience is pleasant.
  • Misfits:
    • Used in episode 1 of the sci-fi series to create a juxtaposition between a tense scene during which Kelly fights for her life against her Ax-Crazy zombie probation worker, and an entirely ridiculous scene in which Alisha performs oral sex on a bottle for her gawping male companions.
    • Also used in episode 5: the opening scene features a montage of the gang's reactions to Sally's interview about their community service programme, which highlights their different personalities - Simon is shy and terrified, Alisha ignores Sally altogether and starts texting, Kelly complains loudly, Curtis looks bored and aggravated, and Nathan says something sarcastic then breaks randomly into song.
    • Used again in the first episode of the second series, when the team are shown going about their business before another day at community service begins: Alisha and Curtis gently tease one another; Kelly mourns Nathan's death; Simon returns to his upstairs hideaway to mourn Sally's death - for good measure, he's got her body stored in a freezer in this same hideout. And all throughout this montage, a figure in a black jumpsuit, mask and hood is seen dashing across rooftops towards the community centre...
  • A humorous version exists in the Mythbusters Demolition Derby Special, where Jamie and Adam are preparing a bus for a series of possibly dangerous stunt driving maneuvers. The show cuts back and forth between Jamie very calmly, meticulously putting together parts of a rollcage while Adam is frantically cutting pipe and tearing things up to make room for the cage.
  • Supernatural.
    • "Free To Be You And Me" juxtaposes the temporarily separated Dean and Sam, with Dean doing his usual business of icing monsters intercut with Sam's attempts to hold down a normal job and life. In "Exile on Main Street", Dean has done the same, and scenes of his normal life are intercut with flashbacks to life as a Hunter.
    • In "The Slice Girls", Dean having sex with a Girl of the Week is intercut with a Victim of the Week being murdered. Turns out the two events are related, so this also serves as foreshadowing.

  • Twin Tribes: In "Monolith"'s music video, a woman in a white dress is corrupted by Ominous Obsidian Ooze, tainting the room she's in. A contrasting view reintroduces the same room and lady in white as untainted, with pink lighting and petals on the floor, and she looks much happier. The scene alternates between the inky lady thrashing in agony and her smiling counterpart dancing gracefully, with the musical duo and the titular monolith appearing in either view as either clean and smiling (in the brighter view) or tainted with ink (in the darker view).

    Video Games 

  • In The Order of the Stick, the strip "Making Up For Lost Time" is a full-page montage contrasting Durkon struggling to research a new spell with Malack's assistance, Haley and Vaarsuvius subduing the guards and breaking slaves out of jail, and Elan spending a joyful day of balloons and dinosaur rides with his estranged father, oblivious to the signs of the man's dictatorial rule that his friends are busy fighting against.

    Web Videos 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog:
    • The song "So They Say" juxtaposes Captain Hammer and Dr. Horrible as they gear up for the events of Act 3.
    • "On the Rise" contrasts Penny's optimism with Dr. Horrible's pessimism about the world.

    Western Animation 
  • Gravity Falls: In "Dipper Vs. Manliness", there's a montage showing on one hand Dipper training with the Manotaurs to become manly, and Mabel "training" Grunkle Stan to ask Lazy Susan out. At several points in the montage, both trainings get quite similar (like Mabel unsuccessfully shaving Stan's chest hair, followed by a Manotaur gluing hair to Dipper's barren chest). The music that plays might be appropriate for a Hard-Work Montage, except that halfway through it starts simply describing the events on screen without worrying about rhyming until the end.
    [...] Now you're gonna jump a crazy gorge.
    Keep on shavin' that hairy uncle.
    Uh... I don't really know what's happen in this part.
    Your heart's on fire and the fire is in your heart!
  • The Simpsons: In "The President Wore Pearls", Lisa performs a musical montage of her becoming popular and manipulated with Principal Skinner singing about his evil scheme to cut Music, Art and Gym.
  • Total Drama has one in Not So Happy Campers Part 2 where the Screaming Gophers' well co-ordinated teamwork as they build their team's hot tub with the Killer Bass' conflicts and problems as they try to build theirs.
  • Young Justice (2010). In "Infiltrator", Kid Flash being stuck at high school enduring the first day of his sophomore year is intercut with the rest of his team having fun at the beach.


Video Example(s):


Light vs Dark (Monolith)

In the middle of the music video, the scenes begin to alternate between two views of the same lady; one dancing gracefully on flowers, and the other thrashing the room with tar. Luis and Joel (the song artists) appear to have been already taken over, with fully black eyes streaking down their faces as they oversee her downfall. It culminates to both ladies getting sucked into the monolith, but the serene lady is lured to it while the corrupted other is dragged against her will.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / ContrastMontage

Media sources: