Classic Scene: Kissing Montage

Classic Scene: Kiss Montage Kiss Montage

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Directed by Giuseppe Tornatore

The Scene: Returning to Rome after the funereal of his old friend and mentor Alfredo (Philippe Noiret), the wealthy and successful Salvatore Di Vita AKA Toto (Jacques Perrin) settles into a small screening room. In the projection booth overhead, the film reel which was Alfredo’s final gift to him. The lights go down and the image on the screen takes form it is a kiss, followed by another, then another. As a boy (Salvatore Cascio) spending time in Alfredo’s old projection booth, every piece of film with any “objectionable” romantic element was edited out at the behest of the local priest. Now as an adult, Salvatore watches with tears in his eyes as the blind projectionist who he was so close to, saved each strip of film and spliced them together into a powerful montage celebrating the power of love and of film.

The Breakdown: In writer/director Giuseppe Tornatore’s love letter to the power of cinema, this is the crescendo. Along with Salvatore we see a lovingly spliced together montage of some of the greatest kiss scenes in movie history from City Lights to His Girl Friday to The Adventures of Robin Hood and more. Despite now being a man of wealth and power Salvatore is taken back to when he was a child in a small Sicilian town and Alfredo instilled in him a love of movies and the power they hold over people. Driving the emotional impact of this moment is the award-winning score from legendary movie composer Ennio Morricone that while it stands as its own heartfelt piece, matches perfectly with what is happening onscreen.

The Best Bit: Countless cinephiles I have met have sat there and tried to name each movie they see in this montage. With quick glimpses of Jimmy Stewart, Greta Garbo, Errol Flynn and other stars of the Golden Age, we try to place which of their pictures the few seconds of footage is from. In a way this brings us as the viewer in as an active participant in a movie celebrating the power of motion pictures.