What is Irony in Films?

What is Irony in Films?

Irony is frequently encountered in our day to day interactions with the stories we engage in and the communications that occur among our lives. In fact, we encounter irony in movies, television shows, and in our own everyday interactions with family, friends, and coworkers. Irony is a technique that is used by screenwriters and filmmakers to create a particular outcome which is contrary to what was or would have otherwise been expected, but what is irony in films, and why is it so popular?

What is Irony in Films?

In filmmaking, irony represents the messaging that is used as part of the storytelling in which the outcome of the story is something that is ironic or otherwise unexpected. We call something “ironic” when it’s sort of the last thing we would have expected or it’s something that is contrary to what we had originally expected or anticipated. Films incorporate irony to keep the reader engaged, entertained, and sometimes to create humor in the message that is being delivered.

A lot of times, irony will be seen as a sarcastic remark or a sense of sarcasm in the film, but it’s not always a message that is of this nature. Sometimes irony is something is more humorous or funny. For example, irony in film might make you think more deeply about the outcome of the story. In actuality, irony is the opposite of expectation.

This literary device is frequently incorporated into a film in order to create twists and turns that drive the story in different directions and keep the audience on the edge of their seat. Rather then keep the audience focused on a single trail of the story, the irony will have them thinking and expecting one outcome, and yet another outcome is what will actually occur.

Why is Irony Important in Filmmaking?

Irony is an important technique in storytelling that is used in filmmaking to drive audience engagement and keep interests high. Irony is often used to form suspense, conflict and complexity around the storyline. All of these elements keep the audience heavily engaged and interested in what they are seeing.

If you think of irony as the opposite of what is expected, you’ll be able to easily understand that irony can be found in a number of situations and circumstances. For instance, there can be irony in our language, this occurs when what we say is not what we mean. There can also be irony in our circumstances, when what we expect to happen is not what actually happens.

In filmmaking, irony can add a level of complexity to the story. You might find that irony makes the story tragic, or saddens you. Perhaps irony will make you laugh at what you thought was going to occur versus what actually was the outcome? Irony occurs frequently throughout our day-to-day lives and in filmmaking, so it’s important to understand that what’s truly most ironic is that we can’t always expect everything to be what it may seem. In fact, nothing actually always is 100% what it seems and we should expect the unexpected. 

Types of Irony in Film

There are several types of irony that are commonly used in filmmaking. The most common forms of irony in film include dramatic irony, verbal irony, and situational irony. Together, these elements are used in storytelling and in filmmaking to formulate different functions and outcomes for the audience as follows:

  • Dramatic irony – occurs when the audience has more details and information about the circumstances of the story than the character does. For instance, if the audience knows there’s a hidden trap that the character is about to walk into there is a sense of dramatic irony formed.
  • Verbal irony – occurs when what we say is not what we mean. In fact, verbal irony occurs when a character says something but means the complete opposite. For instance, a character might have a low grade and say, “Wow, I’m glad I’m doing so great in this class.” The verbal irony is essentially much like sarcasm.
  • Situational irony – occurs when what we expect is not what happens. We get the opposite outcome in this situation. For instance, situational irony may occur when you purchase a pepsi but instead find that what you actually got was coke. 

These forms of irony are frequently used in filmmaking to form a variety of outcomes among the story and among the audience. IN each type of irony there is evident a level of focus that causes the audience to compare and contrast their expectations to the reality that occurred in the film. This is why irony is so important to filmmaking and storytelling.

Why Do Filmmakers Use Irony?

Filmmakers use irony in filmmaking to create a sense of what seems to be versus what actually is. This helps the audience to draw different conclusions as the story develops and keeps them actively engaged as they await the next scene and delivery of the next detail. Irony adds a level of drama, complexity and fullness to the conflict of the story creating depth where there would otherwise be less commitment by the audience to remain focused on the messaging and events that are unfolding.

So what is irony in film? It’s a technique used in which what you see is not what you get, instead the irony of a film is that you expect one thing and something else actually occurs. Irony in film can be used to add contrast and complexity which keeps the audience engaged. 

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