A form of Mood Dissonance, this is when either:
- Type 1: Unpleasant scenarios are presented in settings with pleasant scenery.
- Type 2: 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. For the latter, it can be used to indicate that hope is not lost, even when it seems like it.
Examples of Type 1:
- The painting "Ophelia" by the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais depicts the death of Ophelia, from Hamlet, occurring by a lovingly-depicted flower-bedecked riverbank.
- 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.
- Star Wars:
- In Revenge of the Sith, the execution of Aayla Secura takes place in a lush colorful alien jungle (viewable here).
- Rogue One has the tropical beach planet Scarif, which becomes the site of a particularly brutal battle before being nuked by the Death Star.
- Bespin, from The Empire Strikes Back, is a rather beautiful gas giant with a floating city that goes to hell when The Empire shows up.
- Winter's Bone is a chain of horrible events set in beautiful, snowy forest 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.
- 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...
- Jaws 2 Includes the killing of happy waterskiing youths and bikini babes at a sunlit beach-also included in the poster.
- In Sweet Country, a black farmhand who killed a white landowner in self-defense is hunted through the wilderness of the Australian outback. The beautiful landscapes are contrasted with the violent and sordid human events.
- In Red Dawn we are treated to many gorgeous vistas of the New Mexico Rockies and high plains, while the Soviet Union invades. Plus the scene where Toni and Robert are killed by the helicopters is filmed at iconic Ghost Ranch.
- This is brought up in The Lightning Thief. When his mother apparently dies, Percy reflects that it doesn't seem fair for the weather to be so nice and the scenery so idyllic. He feels like everything should be cold and grey.
- 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 Audley's 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.
- Carnivàle takes place in some really scenic settings, and features occasional horrifying violence.
- Common in the Ecco the Dolphin series. Plenty of the scenery is pleasant, but the games are clearly quite dark.
Examples of Type 2:
- One Piece: Near the end of Dressrosa arc, the battle of Dressrosa is over, and the kingdom is in ruins. Yet, by the next day, the citizens are happily resuming their lives and rebuilding the city, and even throw a small celebration over the heroes (our protagonist group) who saved the country from being utterly destroyed.