Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Wednesday 12 March 2014

What’s in a Kiss?

What’s in a first kiss?

Any first kiss?

We’ve all had a first kiss, I’m guessing. Some of us have had many, some a few. Some have been pretty ordinary, some wonderful. 

Some of us have gone back for many more kisses after the first one.

Tatia Pilieva is a film maker. She asked twenty strangers to kiss one another for the first time. The description of her film states simply that: we asked twenty strangers to kiss for the first time.

There is warmth in the film, and awkwardness. It is funny and touching, and all the things one might hope a first kiss could be.

Nothing wrong with that.

I’m ambivalent, though.

When does a first kiss generally happen?

When are we drawn to kiss someone for the first time, or them to us? 

Relative strangers might kiss.

Perfect strangers don’t kiss.

Except these twenty strangers aren’t perfect strangers are they?

Tatia Pilieva tells us nothing more than that she asked twenty strangers to kiss and there are twenty people in her film. If she told us more than that it would spoil the effect... Of course it would. I completely understand her reasoning. Had I chosen to make this film, I would have done exactly as she did.

I’m ambivalent about all of this because there must have been a great many choices along the way that we don’t know about.

How many people did Pilieva ask? How did she choose who to ask? How did the twenty people who appear in the film make the choice to say yes? Did they see images of the people they were being invited to kiss? Did they see biographies? We know that one of the men already knew before kissing her that his partner was an actress. We know they know each other’s names. We can assume, I think, that gender preferences were made.

I am ambivalent about this film, because, although these are twenty people who I’m sure don’t know each other, and although I’m sure they are kissing for the first time, I also know that they’re kissing in front of a camera.

People change in front of a camera. Their actions become more or less exaggerated. They become more or less self-conscious. They become different. People, almost all people will play to a camera. This is not private. This is not personal.

Isn’t a first kiss one of the most personal experiences in the World?

Then, there’s the edit. 

Ten kisses between twenty strangers in three and a half minutes. The time it takes for a track to play. And, yes, there is a tune attached to this film, but even if there weren't, you take my point. Three and a half minutes is a pretty average attention span. It’s about right for a short film of this kind.

I wonder how long it actually took?

I wonder what Pilieva cut?

I wonder if I could get introductions and a first kiss with a total stranger over and done with in twenty-one seconds. I somehow doubt it.

The kiss is a wonderful thing. It communicates so much. The first kiss, when it is the right kiss with the right person, who probably isn’t a total stranger, can be utterly magical.

The film is rather lovely. Tatia Pilieva had a nice idea and she did a good job. We can all recognise the emotions that the strangers displayed. They are all open books. I was charmed.

If I’m ever asked to kiss a total stranger for the first time. I think I’ll decline. There are only so many first kisses. There is only so much magic to go around. Now if she made the same film with people who'd been in love their whole lives… 

Also, I wonder what that would look like and how different it would be. Or would it be very different?

I'm sure the point of this film was that the viewer should feel a little magic.

Perhaps some of these twenty strangers felt a little magic, too. I hope so.

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