Film / The Kiss

The Kiss is a 1896 movie directed by William Heise and starring a couple (May Irwin and John Rice) kissing one another. It was the first film featuring a couple sharing such an intimate moment and as a result it caused a scandal at the time. So it can be seen as the Trope Maker of moral panic over indecency in film.

Later, the short was Vindicated by History as an important cinematic breakthrough. In 1999 the short was included in the National Film Registry for being "historically, culturally and aesthetically significant."

"The Kiss" provides examples of...

  • Badass Mustache: The guy sports a pretty impressive mustache. He takes a moment to straighten it up out of the way before puckering up.
  • La Belle Epoque: Filmed in the late 19th century.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Finally a kiss that lives up to its name. Not only was it the first movie kiss and seen on the big screen for many people to see: it also became infamous to moviegoers of that time. And nowadays it's one of the most iconic scenes in film history.
  • Erotic Film: This may be the first erotic film in existence, though the eroticism here is nothing more than a few kisses.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It does indeed feature a kiss.
  • Explicit Content: According to 19th century values this was a very explicit movie.
  • Exploitation Film: This may be the first example of a film solely made for exploitation purposes. It gives the audience exactly what it wants to see within the 18 seconds of its length. Rather tame according to today's norms, but at the time it was considered daring and caused moral outrage.
  • Fanservice: It features a kiss, what more is there to say? Many people flocked by to see this on the big screen.
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: This was probably the first example of a film being accused of being "porn" and the makers having to defend their decision on the fact that it were just two actors recreating a scene from a play.
  • Minimalist Cast: Just a man and a woman.
  • Moral Guardians: At the time many people felt this film was "disgusting" and even "pornographic". This may seem silly now, but one must understand that people had never seen such intimacy between two people on a big movie screen before.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: It's just a kiss, but it's the first movie kiss in history!
  • No Plot? No Problem!: The actors actually restaged a kiss from a play they performed in. So in that context it was part of a plot. Here that context is gone.
  • Porn Without Plot: It was regarded as Pornography at the time and seeing that it is just a kiss and nothing more it does qualify as a story without a plot that gets right to the point of showing what the audience came to see.
  • The Pre Hollywood Era: Made during this time period, in 1896.
  • Public Domain: Due to its age.
  • Short Film: It's only 18 seconds long. It takes longer to read this page than it does to watch the movie.
  • Shout-Out: A still of this film can be seen in the opening theme of the first season of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
  • Silent Movie: There is no sound to be heard.
  • Time Marches On: Today this film would be labeled "All Ages".