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« 10 Days til Oscar...The Past 10 Years of Stats| Main| Berlinale 2019: Three queer selections,a doc from the Sudan,and one walkout »
Thursday
Feb 14 2019

Great Moments in Kissing: "Spider-Man"

For Valentine's we asked Team Experience to share favourite screen kisses.Here's Salim Garami...

What's good?

When I think of THE most cinematic of movie kisses,what pops into my mind isn't necessarily my favorite (which would be Alfred Hitchcock's explosive fireworks button onTo Catch a Thief) or what I think of as the best (which would beHitchcock's taboo-busting "Another one!And another one!"inNotorious).I think of the kiss that was most formative.The kiss that showed me how image and movement could communicate ardor to somebody as young as 6.The kiss that came in possibly the most formative movie in all of my childhood: Sam Raimi's 2002 superhero landmarkSpider-Man.A film that has long informed the majority of what I love to see in movies and established itself deep in my heart (although it is quite possible thatInto the Spider-Versehas now embedded itself deeper),it should be no surprise that it informed what I love in romantic scenes,especially the moments in movies that are accused of oversentimentality and cheesiness...

Whatever dismissals of earnestness,I don't think anybody can deny the instant iconic status of the late sequence in which our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (Tobey Maguire) and the Girl Next Door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) finally lock lips in a tight New York City alleyway.It was present in the film's marketing,was the main point of imitation and parody,and accomplishes all this as one of the few moments in the film that doesn't have an analogue in the comics.

And such a kinetic moment it is.For one thing,there's the obvious visual elements like how rain adds momentum and life to the scene.Rain is my favorite thing a movie can possibly have,imbuing the quietest moments with energy even as out of focus backdrop (and this is probably a great moment to mentionJohn Ford'sThe Quiet Manwhich also features two of my favorite screen kisses,both in forces of nature and one of them is in the rain).It charges the moment with electricity,showering the two characters without them giving a care.

The other is the famous placement of the actors as Spidey is in his trademark upside down pose,a clever visual reminiscent of how you can't keep your feet on the ground when you're sharing space with someone you're infatuated with.Anyway,if the webhead is gonna score,why not in one of his famous poses?

Most importantly,everything before and after the kiss is snappy: our man Peter Parker is in such a rush to save Mary Jane from a trio of creeps that he doesn't even have time to put on his mask.He makes quick and short work of them to the point of a deliberately abrupt anti-climax to the fight as he raises the last thug and then puts him back down and ducks away into an alley before Mary Jane can tell him to "wait"and see his face.Their following banter once a fully-masked Spidey hangs in upside down is a zippy meet-cute.And mind you,the shot scales bring the characters closer and closer as first we go from a wide over Mary Jane's shoulder to a medium two-shot of them together and the following conversation in quick shot-reverse shot.

But the actual moment where Mary Jane gets to "say thank you this time"is where the filmmaking and performances take their time,slowly pulling back the mask just so she find his lips,the kiss taking up most of the moment,and the slow rollback on the mask.It's a moment that wants to linger in one long profile illuminated by lightning and we are so glad for it.

The kiss' placement in the story is clearly meant to be a moment that re-energizes and inspires Spidey.It's shortly after we've watched him disillusioned by The Green Goblin's speech and The Daily Bugle's coverage of his acts.Everything within that moment makes our heart flutter just as fast as Spidey's.And before Mary Jane even finishes replacing Spidey's mask,he's zips right out of frame into another adventure and we are left in a daze like Mary Jane as he watch her from a high-angle smiling into a pouring night sky.

And 6-year-old me returned the smile towards an unforgettable moment in an unforgettable movie.

❤️

Previous kisses:Notorious,The Last of the Mohicans,Love Simon,andThe Notebook

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Reader Comments (3)

I love this moment so much and so glad you picked it.Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies dont get enough credit now since they predate MARVEL's reign but,really,I think Marvel has yet to catch up to their popcorn perfection.

February 14,2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

That is a great moment and it inspired what I believe is one of the best softcore porn parody films ever inSpiderbabewith Misty Mundae in the titular role.It's actually pretty funny and manages to do well with its low-budget aesthetics.

February 14,2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

A classic kiss for the still the best "Spider Movie"

February 14,2019 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

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