Tuesday 16 November 2010

Different and Memorable Cinematic Kisses

A kiss is a kiss. A viewer can become blase about an inevitable touching of lips. This is when a Director can accentuate the intimacy and the spiritual elevation of an embrace to reinvigorate the image with a tinge of the visceral.

In the 1957 film An Affair To Remember Leo McCarey has his romantic partners kiss off-screen (below), the posing of their lower bodies speaking of submission to the ecstasy of the moment. The sacred intimacy of this first kiss is preserved by being away from prying eyes and the sensuality thus only heightened. Our imaginations run riot, an audience's anticipation left fulfilled and in limbo. In this one scene, therefore, the Director encapsulates the whole film - they have each other off-stage but will they hold on to each other on-stage?

Submission is one way in Ivan's Childhood. A man makes to help a girl across a trench only to capture her in a clinch while she is helpless. He has complete power as she dangles over the hole. Both romantic (swept off her feet) and predatory. The old symbol of love as a battle, love to be won, to be taken before it is given.

A kiss is used as part of a religious rapture and deliverance in another film by Andrei Tarkovsky: Offret or The Sacrifice. This encounter will help avert a Third World War. The couple levitate and spin above a bed.

Another example of a kiss giving life and freedom is in David Lynch's Inland Empire. 'Polish Girl' is released from her torment through the travails of Nikki/Susan.

One of the most well-known (and most parodied) kisses of recent times happens in Spider-Man. Spider-Man dangles upside down for Mary Jane. Its novelty and the heroic but vulnerable pose of Spider-Man lends an extra spice. It's unexpected and all the sweeter for it.

There is another novel kiss in Aeon Flux short Gravity. Here the man and the woman lean out of train windows as they rush past.

Now here are four examples of kisses with no physical contact. In Bright Star Fanny kisses John's letter, a surrogate for the man himself. In Pulp Fiction Vincent blows an innocent kiss like a blessing. In Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me Bobby kisses the display cabinet that shuts Laura's portrait away. Finally, in Let the Right One In, Oskar and Eli (lying in a box to avoid the sunlight) beat the word 'Kiss' in Morse Code.

And finally, a 'conventional' and perhaps kitsch kiss made triumphant and celebratory by expectation, by music and by the use of fast and slow motion.


  1. Interesting! Never thought about the Ivan's Childhood kiss in such a way.

  2. Wow, now I can't wait to see "As Tears Go By".

  3. Jaime,

    I haven't seen the film either(!)

  4. Ha. Stephen. How ever do you manage to do that staggering countdown AND post here. Super job once again. The one from Ivan's Childhood is my favorite.

    Two more famous ones:



  5. Thanks JAFB!

    I'm just writing up image-heavy posts at the moment, ones that have been building up in my mind over recent months.

    I'd say, as an image out of context, the Ivan's Childhood one is my favourite too. It's not particularly romantic in the film. In terms of its impact as part of the film I'd go for PULP FICTION or INLAND EMPIRE.

    Thanks for the two suggestions. The MULHOLLAND DRIVE one is very much in the PERSONA vein (ABBA used this face-on side-on composition a lot too - I wonder if that was straight from Bergman.) The NOTORIOUS screenshot is beautiful. I've forgotten - is the context as intimate and romantic as the image suggests?

  6. Confession time. I haven't seen NOTORIOUS!!! But this kiss is legendary.

  7. Nice use of the "Aeon Flux" short. That short always reminds me of a kiss between Belmundo and Anna Karina from "Pierrot Le Fou", both of them leaning out of different cars. I don't remember if it's in the actual film itself, but it's featured in publicity-stills and the trailer, I think.

  8. A collection like this (though far less profound and pointed) was offered up in that famous last scene in Tornatore's CINEMA PARADISO, when all the clips of famous kisses from classic films were gathered together as a present from to Toto from the deceased projectionist. I get the same spirit while looking at this post, which is another in a long line of especially thoughtful features here at CHECKING ON MY SAUSAGES.

  9. Bob,

    The AEON FLUX is thanks to you, of course. I don't remember that moment PIERROT LE FOU (the most fou of all Jean-Luc Godard's films) but that doesn't mean it wasn't in the film.

  10. Sam,

    Thanks. I forgot about CINEMA PARADISO.

    The idea for the post came from the kiss in AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER and made me realise how new life can be breathed into the cinematic kiss to give it back the sparkle and magic it has in real life.

  11. JAFB,

    I've seen it but I can barely remember anything of it so we're in the same camp.

  12. I like your creativity with these posts.
    Sadly, I never remember actual scenes like this ; (


  13. Cheers to you too, Coffee Messiah. I must say you are one of the most courteous people I have come across on the internet.

    "Sadly, I never remember actual scenes like this ; ("

    That's a shame. For me some films are only reduced to one or two glimpses or memories like these.

  14. Ha, ha...thanks for the compliment though.

    I do remember scenes, but not the lovey dovey ones. It happens all to often now a days anyway, and they aren't very special, at least the ones I remember even a little bit.