Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Movie Kiss of Taste, 2: Cecil & Lucy

Recently I thought it might be nice to use the translation site babel fish to translate my e-mail to an Italian friend into Italian. She wrote back saying that while she appreciated the effort, I should just stick to English as the translation was "very original." To give me an idea--and a laugh--she sent me the babel fish translation of her e-mail from Italian into English. Right off, it was fantastic, rendering Cara Fresca (Dear Fresca) as "Fresh Beloved."

Since then, I've occasionally used the site for laughs. Someone suggested using it if you need help writing LOLcat: translate your English phrase into Japanese and then back again. Today, in honor of April Fools, I did this for Favorite Movie Kisses. It came back "Movie Kiss of Taste," ("好みの映画接吻" ), which is a shocking improvement, I think.

So, since I don't have to take a photo today (tra-la! I am so happy!) I can spend many precious hours pondering favorite movie kisses, which I'm finding harder to come up with than I expected.

Momo helped by suggesting one of her favorites: Daniel Day-Lewis (Johnny) and Gordon Warnecke (Omar) in My Beautiful Launderette (1985).
Steamy, yeah.

But actually, what I appreciated about her choice was that it reminded me of one of the best movie kisses ev0r, also delivered by Daniel Day-Lewis, also from 1985, but otherwise nothing whatsoever like MBL:
Cecil Vyse (Day-Lewis) kissing his fiancée Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) in A Room with a View. Cecil is a pompous fop, "the sort who can't know anyone intimately, least of all a woman" (though he and his mother do seem rather well matched). He wants Lucy as a DIY project, to craft her "freshness" to suit his snobbish ideals. She wants him, insofar as she does, for his class and money--and to avoid her own inconveniently passionate nature.

Their first kiss is a perfect parody of passion, as Cecil misses the mark in every possible way. It is a kiss of comic genius. But what elevates it from simple silliness is that Day-Lewis somehow manages to play Cecil as a real 4-D human being, ridiculous, odious even, as he is.
When Lucy finally backs out of their engagement, she delivers a hurtful though honest string of accusations, and there's something in the way Cecil puts on his boots to leave that shows you that this fool does have feelings, possibly as misdirected as Lucy's...

The smothering effects of misdirected affections and muted passion is E. M. Forster's thing, of course, and Merchant Ivory translate it really well onto screen. But while these Forster stories capture the wrongness of denying one's animal body, they don't seem able to offer a very good alternative. I mean, while I'm sure Lucy will be in for a good six to twelve months of eye-swimming pleasure after she marries the highly bonkable George, I can't imagine that in the long run she'll be happy with this oaf. Sort of like Lady Chatterley and Mellors--how long could they really stand each other?
I'm sure Lucy'll be fine, though. She'll end up running the suffragettes movement or something.

For that matter, is Maurice (James Wilby) going to be happy with Freddy, after he catches his breath?
Yeah, I know--it's Alec, not Freddy. Alec Scudder. But since he's played by Rupert Graves who also played Lucy's unreconstituted brother Freddy in ARWAV, and Merchant Ivory released Forster's Maurice only two years later, I always think, oh, how nice, Freddy went off and became a gameskeeper!

But how in the world are Maurice and Alec going to get on together once they get done, um, kissing? Though really, you could ask that of almost all lovers on film and come to the conclusion that, after all, Rick was quite right to put Ilsa on that plane out of Casablanca.


Nancy said...

Hitchcock, I would say, imagined and filmed the sexiest kisses ever. There's Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in "Notorious", when Hitch got out of the movie code restrictions on long kisses with a long kissing scene of highly tasty little kisses. And the same dreamboat Cary with Eva Marie Saint in "North by Northwest" in a terrifically hot yet ladylike and gentlemanly makeout scene.

I'm glad you feel freed by not "having" to do a photo a day -- but as a fan of them I do hope they continue to appear as the spirit moves you.

Darwi said...

thanks for the babel fish link. It's hilarious!

momo said...

LOL "Fresh beloved!" That is classic! (language teacher nerdosity)

My father once sent me a letter he had put through a translation program,English to Spanish, and the "love, Dad" at the end was tranlated as a command, "Ame!" meaning "Love!

Yes, Cecil putting on his boots, exactly. DDL is the man!

fresca said...

Thanks for the link, Nancy!
A couple other people have said Hitchcock films their favorite kisses too.
As Darwi says, kissing is a matter of individual taste--while I admire the artistry (totally!), the sexuality of Hitchcock's characters doesn't touch me.

Darwi--you like Douglas Adams, right? So you know "babel fish" is from Hitchhiker's Guide--D.A. would have had fun with it too!

Momo: I'm glad you remembered the boots too. Day-Lewis is so good it's almost frightening.