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Film / The Kiss

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The shame of it all!

The Kiss is a 1896 short film directed by William Heise.

Only 18 seconds long, this early short film stars May Irwin and John Rice, re-enacting their kissing scene from the stage play The Widow Jones. It was the first film featuring a couple sharing such an intimate moment and as a result it caused a scandal at the time.

Not to be confused with the 1929 Greta Garbo vehicle which was the last Silent Movie produced by a major studio before the Talkie era, nor with the 1988 Canadian horror flick. Or the film by Eadweard Muybridge, released 14 years earlier in 1882, which is actually still risque even by todays standards - not only were both actors women, they were completely naked to begin with.

"The Kiss" provides examples of...

  • 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: One of the first erotic films 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.
  • 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.
  • Minimalist Cast: Just a man and a woman.
  • 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.
  • Short Film: It's only 18 seconds long. It takes longer to read this page than it does to watch the movie.