A juxtaposition is a great storytelling tool filmmakers use to compare and contrast two different elements in the same frame.

You can use juxtaposition to make all kinds of points about your characters, theme, story and mood.

Juxtaposition is when you put two completely different objects together and let the audience draw their own conclusions.

Most of the time, you want to play with the contrast between these elements so that they’re as different as possible.


What Is juxtaposition

What Is juxtaposition?

Juxtaposition is often used to compare two unrelated things and highlight similarities between them.

Writers might use juxtaposition to compare seemingly opposite things in order to reveal a shared commonality between the two.

For example, an author might juxtapose the attributes of a certain model car with those of a famous scientific theory to reveal similarities between the two.

The comparison provides insight into the theory, but it also reveals that the model car possesses certain qualities that support the theory.


Exploring Juxtaposition: Definition & Artistic Impact

Juxtaposition is a powerful tool in art, literature, and even everyday life, setting two elements side by side to highlight their differences or similarities.

It’s a technique that’s as simple as placing contrasting colors together, but its effects can be profound, revealing new insights and perspectives.

In this article, we’ll explore how juxtaposition works, where you’ll find it, and why it’s such a staple in creative expression.

Stick with us as we uncover the secrets behind this intriguing concept that keeps audiences captivated and thinkers engaged.


What Is Juxtaposition?

When exploring various storytelling techniques, we frequently encounter the term juxtaposition.

It’s an artistic device that creators use to enhance their narrative by placing two contrasting elements close together.

This method emphasizes differences or similarities, capturing the viewer’s attention with an unexpected comparison.

In film, juxtaposition can manifest in several innovative ways.

We’ve seen directors place rich next to poor, or joy beside sorrow to solidify a message.

These deliberate placements within a scene are not just visual contrasts but serve as a narrative tool, adding depth and meaning to the story.

For instance, in The Great Gatsby, the lavish parties of the wealthy are set against the backdrop of the impoverished ‘valley of ashes.

‘ This stark contrast isn’t just a visual spectacle.

It symbolizes the social disparities of the era and adds weight to the characters’ experiences.

Let’s consider sound as another component where juxtaposition plays a crucial role.

A haunting melody set against a violent scene can create a dissonance that evokes strong emotions.

This technique, often referred to as sound-image juxtaposition, can leave a lasting impression on the audience.

Here are some examples of juxtaposition in filmmaking:

  • Visual contrasts between characters, like a soldier returning to everyday life,
  • Dialogue that reflects opposing ideals, showing character conflict,
  • Setting an innocent song against a turbulent scene to enhance emotional impact.

Understanding the various ways juxtaposition can be employed is critical for us as filmmakers.


It’s a versatile tool that can turn a simple scene into a memorable moment, and it’s our job to use it thoughtfully to convey the underlying message of our work.

How Does Juxtaposition Work?

Juxtaposition in film is a technique where elements are placed side by side to highlight their differences.

These elements often include settings, characters, emotions, and actions.

When we place the opulent lifestyle of a wealthy character adjacent to the struggle of a character in poverty, we immediately notice the stark contrast.

This contrast not only highlights the disparity but also amplifies the impact of each element.

Similarly, placing a scene of serene calmness right before a tumultuous event enhances the emotional shock.

We feel the serenity more deeply, and the subsequent chaos hits harder.

In narrative storytelling, using juxtaposition can help us:

  • Draw attention to specific traits of a character or setting,
  • Create a more vivid comparison between different concepts or themes,
  • Build tension and suspense within the storyline.

Visual juxtaposition often employs color, lighting, and composition to convey contrast.


Consider the use of shadows to enhance a character’s internal conflict or bright colors to isolate a subject in a dull environment.

Sound-image juxtaposition can be particularly powerful.

Think of a haunting melody playing over a scene of celebration or silence accompanying a critical moment – each choice profoundly affects the viewer’s experience.

Auditory juxtaposition may involve:

  • Contrasting diegetic and non-diegetic sounds,
  • Merging natural sounds with an urban soundscape,
  • Playing with volume levels to juxtapose silence and noise.

Through these techniques, filmmakers guide audiences to experience a richer, more layered understanding of the narrative.

It’s about crafting scenes in such a way that each element enhances the other, providing depth that might otherwise be missed.

Examples Of Juxtaposition In Art

In the realm of visual arts, we often see juxtaposition creating powerful statements.

Consider a painting that places the beauty of untouched nature beside an industrial wasteland.

Photography too uses juxtaposition to evoke thought and emotion.

A photograph capturing the innocence of childhood against the backdrop of urban decay can be incredibly poignant.

In literature, authors frequently rely on juxtaposition to develop their characters and themes.

To Kill a Mockingbird weaves a narrative that positions the purity of childhood alongside the corruption of racial prejudice.

Our exploration of juxtaposition wouldn’t be complete without mentioning some iconic instances in film:

  • The Godfather – scenes of serene religious ceremonies cut against the brutal acts of the Corleone family,
  • Beauty and the Beast – the warmth of Belle’s character contrasted with the Beast’s harsh exterior,
  • Titanic – stark differences between the opulence of first-class and the squalor of third-class.

In each example, filmmakers craft visual contrasts that are not only aesthetically compelling but also drive the narrative forward.

It’s these contrasts that enrich our understanding of the storyline and the characters involved.

The beauty of juxtaposition lies in its ability to present themes and ideas in a direct and impactful way.

By seeing elements in close proximity, their differences become more pronounced, allowing us to perceive and process the underlying messages more effectively.

Juxtaposition In Literature

While we’ve seen juxtaposition create striking visuals in film, its power in literature cannot be underestimated.

Through words alone, authors paint contrasting concepts that evoke deep emotions and thought-provoking themes.

In classic novels, juxtaposition often propels the narrative forward.

Take Pride and Prejudice – the disparity between characters’ social statuses highlights the constraints of class and the power of love to overcome them.

Similarly, To Kill a Mockingbird uses the innocence of childhood against the harsh realities of racial prejudices to offer critical commentary on society.

Juxtaposition not only contrasts characters but also settings and time periods.

In The Great Gatsby, the opulent lives of the East Egg elite starkly contrast with the desolate Valley of Ashes.

This serves as a powerful symbol for the hollowness of the American Dream.

Literary techniques involving juxtaposition include:

  • Foil characters – to highlight certain traits,
  • Metaphors and similes – to compare and contrast ideas,
  • Parallel plotlines – to show different outcomes from similar situations.

We find that by understanding juxtaposition, readers can uncover layers of meaning in a text.

It encourages them to engage with the material, piecing together the significance of the contrasted elements themselves.

Juxtaposition In Everyday Life

Juxtaposition is not just confined to art and literature.

It’s present in the nuances of our daily lives, often without us even realizing it.

Walking through a bustling city street, we’re surrounded by an array of sensory contrasts – the cacophony of traffic interleaved with the tranquility of a nearby park, or the stark modernity of skyscrapers casting shadows over historic buildings.

These are everyday examples of juxtaposition:

  • The sweet taste of ice cream followed by a sip of bitter coffee,
  • A cheerful conversation set against the backdrop of a dreary, rainy day,
  • The clarity of a child’s laughter amidst a crowd of stoic adults,
  • The warmth of sunlight piercing through the cool shade of an alleyway.

In our films, we translate these instances into visual storytelling tools.

By capturing the essence of life’s contradictions, we create scenes that resonate deeply with our audience.

Consider a character experiencing a personal triumph During a societal breakdown or the tense calm before an inevitable conflict erupts on screen.

Our real-life experiences with juxtaposition subconsciously inform our content creation.

We instinctively seek out these contrasting elements, knowing their power to draw in viewers and elicit strong emotional responses.

The deliberate use of light and shadow, silence and sound, or classic and contemporary styles helps to build narratives that are as complex and multi-layered as the world around us.

Understanding juxtaposition’s presence in everyday life enriches our perspective as filmmakers and audience members.

It allows us to approach scenes with a nuanced lens, crafting stories that are not only visually compelling but also deeply rooted in the human experience.

What Is Juxtaposition – Wrap Up

We’ve explored the depths of juxtaposition and its profound impact on storytelling.

By recognizing the contrasts that surround us daily, we’re better equipped to appreciate the subtleties in art and film that reflect our own experiences.

Juxtaposition isn’t just a creative technique; it’s a lens through which we can view the world, uncovering hidden layers of meaning.

As we move forward, let’s carry this understanding into our interactions with various media, allowing us to uncover the richness that lies within the contrasts of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Juxtaposition In Art And Literature?

Juxtaposition in art and literature involves placing contrasting elements, such as characters, themes, or scenery, close together to highlight differences, create tension, or enhance storytelling.

How Is Juxtaposition Used In Film?

In film, juxtaposition is often used to convey a message or create emotional impact by contrasting elements, such as rich and poor or joy and sorrow.

It can also involve the use of sound-image juxtaposition to deepen the audience’s emotional experience.

Can You Give Examples Of Juxtaposition In Movies?

Yes, a classic example of juxtaposition in movies is the contrast of a bustling city scene immediately followed by a quiet, rural landscape to show the disparity between urban and rural life.

How Does Juxtaposition Influence Filmmakers?

Juxtaposition influences filmmakers by drawing from everyday experiences with contrasting tastes, conversations, and environments.

These experiences subconsciously guide them in creating scenes that resonate with the audience.

Why Is Understanding Juxtaposition Important For Filmmakers?

Understanding juxtaposition is important for filmmakers because it enriches their perspective, allowing them to craft stories that are visually compelling and deeply rooted in the human experience.