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We’ve been making movies for over 100 years and in that time, many things have happened on screen. One thing that has been with us since nearly the dawn of cinema is the kiss. A new video has taken the time to follow the kiss through the history of the movies, and follow the way it has changed and evolved with the times. Check out this touching tribute to a touching moment.
Thomas Edison’s filming of the first screen kiss was scandalous, but apparently he was willing to do it anyway. Whether this was a case of Edison realizing that commercial success could be obtained from controversy, or simply thought it was an important moment to film, is not clear. From there, the kiss has gone just about everywhere that can be imagined. It has shown love, and it has shown need. Each era has used the kiss to show different things about their time.
The kiss has also been used as a subversive act. One of the more interesting kisses shown in the video is that of Charlie Chaplin. Only 20 years after the first-ever screen kiss. and Chaplin’s moment actually implies homosexuality. It doesn’t actually do that, of course, as that would have likely been impossible to get away with, but even the implication is a fascinating thing to see. The video from BFI even goes on to say that it would be a long time before attitudes regarding these topics are effectively challenged. To see that happening so early is likely a testament to the power that Charlie Chaplin had as the world’s first global movie star.
Some of the most memorable moments in cinema are here. From the kiss that awakens Snow White in the Disney film, to the famous moments on the beach in From Here To Eternity. For the most part, the video focuses on films that you’ll know, even if you haven’t seen them. It’s not important to show the first interracial kiss on screen, for example. What’s more important is showing the first interracial kiss in a mainstream movie, as it was the one that more people saw. This isn’t simply about the history of the kiss on screen, but the history of us watching it.
The BFI doesn’t only focus on the steps forward, however. In an interesting moment, the BFI seems to quite critical of the final scene of Sixteen Candles. While one of the more iconic screen kisses in recent years, it hasn't exactly held up as a great moment in movie making. Instead John Hughes gets more credit for that moment in The Breakfast Club.
If anything, this may make you pay more attention the next time you see a kiss at the movies. What does that kiss mean? What does it say about the characters or the era of the film? What’s your favorite kiss on screen?