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I baci e il cinema 11.12.14

Una breve storia dell'iconografia dei baci nel cinema.

Cinema may not have invented kissing, but I suspect that over the course of the 20th century, movies helped make it more essential. What is undeniable is that movies -- Hollywood movies especially, but far from exclusively -- made kissing more visible. They established a glamorous iconography and an elegant choreography for an experience that, in real life, is frequently sloppy, clumsy and less than perfectly graceful.

Which is all part of the fun, of course. But one thing real kisses always are to the people engaged in them is invisible. What you see, if for some reason you keep your eyes open, might be the blurred bridge of a nose (your own? his? hers?), an errant lock of hair, a patch of ceiling, sidewalk or dashboard. But the movie camera has the uncanny power to reveal unseen intimacies, to frame and diagram what we otherwise know as a frenzy of sensation.

In other words, whatever else a kiss may be, it is for filmmakers above all a formal challenge. The camera adores the human face. The apotheosis of the cinematic art, the point at which it has been said (by wiser critics than I) to approach the condition of holiness, is the close-up, which endows an individual visage with aesthetic dignity and ontological gravity. The great movie stars are not necessarily the most talented actors, or even the best-looking human beings, but rather those whose eyes, mouths and cheekbones compel attention when rendered in two dimensions. Their magic is in their singularity.