By Tom Quiner
Let us take a break from the political season for a few moments of romance.
During my “courting” years with my beautiful wife, Karen, she’d come over to my apartment every Tuesday night to watch an MGM musical with me along with our best friends.
We’d announce with fanfare that moment of the “first kiss.” Everyone knew the hero and heroine were going to fall in love, kiss, get mad over a misunderstanding and split up, and then reunite and live happily ever after. I loved those movies then and still do to this day. Two of the best were “Singing in the Rain” and “An American in Paris.”
Ever since, we always announce that moment in a film when the first kiss takes place. In recent decades, the first kiss in the movies usually leads instantly to bed and sex.
What a disappointment.
You see, the best romance has a component of longing to it. The instant gratification of carnal appetites reduces romance to a tawdry exercise in indulgence. Perhaps I’m simply biased by my courtship. My wife and I lived in separate cities the first year of our relationship. This was in the days before cell phones, e-mail, Facebook, and cheap long distance. We could afford one long distance call a week. We wrote to each other three letters a week.
When we finally moved to the same city, I was on cloud nine. When we were finally married, I was in heaven. I still am.
Our longing for each other laid the foundation for long term, mature love.
One film stands out to me as the most romantic with the most romantic first kiss you will ever see. For that matter, it has the most romantic second kiss. That film is director Giuseppe Tornatore’s masterpiece, “Cinema Paradiso.”
I will forewarn you that the film is in Italian with subtitles. If you watch this film do NOT get a dubbed version. You’ll ruin it.
Savor the subtitles and the beautiful Italian language.
Savor the sumptuous film score by the great composer Ennio Moriccone.
And savor the agonizing longing of our young hero, “Toto,” who pines for the beautiful Elena. The build up is exquisite, finally leading to that electric moment when their lips meet with the purity of young love.
Cinema Paradiso was released in 1988. The international cut runs 124 minutes. I recommend you watch this version first. A director’s cut was released a decade later that runs 174 minutes. If you fall in love with the rich characters in this film, as I did, wait a year and watch the director’s cut for “the rest of the story.”
Watch the most romantic first kiss in the history of cinema in the clip above.
Watch the most romantic second kiss in the history of cinema below.
Then go fall in love all over again.