A Kiss is still a Kiss...
I have to admit, I hate writing intimate scenes. It's so intimidating! I don't want a kiss to come off like a "how-to" video--"The woman places her hand on the man's shoulder and steps on tip-toe, angling her face approximately 25 degrees to the right...." Ick.
I want to capture the pure magic of that first touch of lips, the first slow slide of his hand down her spine, the touch of her fingers on the stubble of his jaw....
But I digress.
What made me think about kissing scenes was a video I watched right here on Romance Magicians, a compilation of great movie kisses. Some of the kisses were great. Some weren't exactly inspiring. And knowing how hard it was for me to write a great kiss, I wondered how hard it must be for actors to perform a great kiss. Because some of them are apparently very, very good at kissing on demand. I've noticed.
I have a few favorite movie kisses, you see. Yes, I keep a list. And probably at the very top of my list is the kiss between Cora (Madeline Stowe) and Nathaniel (Daniel Day Lewis) in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.
Cora and Nathaniel are in the middle of a highly-charged situation--the fort in under siege from the French—and Nathaniel has already gotten crossways with the British commander, who happens to be Cora's father, because he refuses to allow the colonials to leave the fort to check on their unprotected families, who are in dire danger from Indian war parties. In the middle of this fear-filled night, Cora and Nathaniel come together in a kiss that makes my palms sweat every time I watch.
What really works for me in this scene is that it's so obviously highly sexual and explosive, set as it is in a tense and desperate moment in the movie. And yet, it never comes off as anything but deeply romantic. Some passionate kisses can sizzle but lack the deeper sense of soul connection. This kis is my all time favorite because the actors and the setting created the sort of romance that we writers long to recreate—and our readers long to savor.
I also love the kiss between Bridget and Mark at the end of BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY. The situation is completely insane--Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is running through the streets of London in her knickers, chasing after Mark (Colin Firth), whom she's afraid she's driven away by some unguarded comments in her diary, which he accidentally read. When he calmly tells her that he's just gone out to buy her a new diary, she realizes that he's the solid presence she desperately needs in her drama-fraught life, and they share a kiss that melts the snow falling around them.
For a completely different reason, I love the first kiss between Clara (Joanne Woodward) and Ben (Paul Newman) in THE LONG, HOT SUMMER. Ben is a drifter, the son of an arsonist, who insinuates himself in the life of Clara's family, the wealthy but deeply disfunctional Varners. Clara is a teacher, a repressed, highly intelligent woman with dry wit and a love-hate relationship with her overbearing father. When Ben sets his eyes on her, she wants desperately to be appalled and disgusted.
But there's something about him that fascinates her, as well, and when he catches her late one night in her father's general store, where he's working as the manager, he lets her know in uncertain terms what his intentions are. He means to have her. He doesn't hide the fact that her father has chosen him to marry his spinster daughter, and he's figured out that it's smart to do whatever will Varner wishes. But underlying the mercenery pragmatism, Ben conveys the fact that he finds her entirely desirable on her own merits.
No wonder Clara, whose long-time boyfriend is sexually ambiguous at best, can't keep up the struggle long when he kisses her. It's not a happy kiss, or a very long one, but it's the first real crack in Clara's ice, and it was a great moment.
So, those are a few of my favorite screen kisses. What are some of yours?