Let's Talk About Kissing in the Star Wars Movies, Shall We?
Star Wars is very cool. It's got fantastic adventure, great characters, some of the best music put to film, lightsabers, porgs, and a seemingly endless amount of space (pun) to expand and tell all kinds of wonderful stories through a specific genre lens. And you know what else is very cool? Kissing. And there's plenty of that in Star Wars, too. So, dear reader, I invite you to join me on a walk down “Far, Far Away” Lane, as I not only talk about specific kisses in the Star Wars film canon, but also what kissing in film lends to story, character, and audience wish fulfillment.
First up, a very brief examination on kissing in the talkies. Like most things taken from real life and committed to celluloid, film has the power to take something mundane or personal and embellish it into something grand and extraordinary. Point-of-View (POV) plays a very important role in the difference between our personal, real-life experiences, and those depictions on the silver screen of common, everyday acts. When we see ourselves doing something, it is typically through our own POV (which with kissing can be quite unglamorous). And sure, when we see other people kissing in real life, removed from being one of the participants, we have a pretty neat visual of two people sharing something we have felt before with someone else, or at least longed to share in one way or another. But nothing beats the professional framing and build-up, the rising music and edited situation, of a big on screen smooch.
There is a sensationalism lent to the moment that we as human beings are firmly aware of, which is what movies, and storytelling for that matter, are all about. Kissing is a universal language, just like English in the Star Wars galaxy! Even the smallest of pecks can carry any amount of intimacy or dread, and everything in-between, with the proper set-up and execution. A kiss can be: lovely, familiar, romantic, threatening, funny, unnerving, relieving, and many other things, all based on its intention in the moment and the direction of the story. A kiss in a film is powerful; however small or brief, and it is with that weight that I am most interested in taking a look at the Star Wars films and all of their many smackers.
Star Wars is famous, not only for its noisy laser swords, oddly shaped spacecrafts, and talking puppets, but also for its fair share of iconic/infamous kisses. So, in chronological order, (*pops mint in mouth*) let's check these bad boys out.
The Phantom Menace:
-Anakin and Shmi (on the cheek)
We're gonna start out small here, because things get hot fast in the prequel trilogy once everyone involved is of age. The only “muah” we get in this 136 minute space adventure is a loving peck on the cheek from a mother saying goodbye, possibly forever, to her child. It's a quick one, with not too much to break down, and it was probably one amongst multiple other takes where the kiss wasn't included. Luckily, for this article's sake, it was. Moving on.
Attack of the Clones:
-Padme and Anakin (“I don't like sand...”)
And here we go. Now we're talkin'. A stolen, passionate kiss from our doomed hero, right smack on the lips of pretty much our only female character. Had to happen. It's quite a thing to look back on this kiss in retrospect, given the enormity of the pressure placed on Episode II's shoulders to produce a romance that was convincing enough to garner all the fallout that would come from it. This first kiss is both tender and a bit stressful, falling under the weight of its own raging hormones, as Padme pulls away, guilt-ridden and confused about the whole affair.
-Padme and Anakin (about to die)
Faced with an almost certain death, Padme spills the beans to Anakin that she “truly, deeply” loves him, and they get a nice lil’ kiss in before being hauled off to the slaughter pit. It's pretty epic, and the composition of the whole scene really works, if you remove a bunch of stuff that happens before and after it. Alas, that's not how movies work. More on that later.
-Padme and Anakin (on the cheek)
Our young Padawan gets the newly sexually-awakened senator a ride outta this Gladiator set, and she thanks him with a nice little smooch on the cheek. Nice of her, and good for him.
-Padme and Anakin (secret wedding)
When all is said and done in the epic romance of the Star Wars saga, Ms. Amidala makes an honest man out of Mr. Skywalker with a secret wedding, and we all know how those end. With a kiss! On the lips!
Revenge of the Sith:
-Padme and Anakin (in secret)
Upon their first meeting in Episode III, Anakin and Padme are gracious enough to bombard the audience with a slew of lip-smackeroos right out of the gate! We get a sensual embrace of lovers reunited as our appetizer. Then, as like a small salad or something, we get a longing kiss on the cheek from Anakin before Padme shuts this PDA down. But then, the reveal! Padme is pregnant! That calls for another smooch, and it's the entree of this dinner metaphor for sure, complete with face grabbing and big hugs. And there is no dessert, because that's all of the kisses in the movie.
Solo: A Star Wars Story:
-Han and Q'ira (first kiss)
Before heading into our OG trilogy, we have a few canoodles to go over in the Star Wars Story series. First up, we got a nice meet-and-smooch from our main love story participants. This kiss feels pretty forced, and more of a way to communicate these two character's past connections, as well as a way to reaffirm Han's bold behavior, that we all know and love will be intact. For these uses, it works! But not a whole lot going on here for now.
-Val and Beckett (at the fire)
Now this is what I'm talking about. A good communication of love and relationships as support structures for both involved, with a roaring line from Thandie Newton and a look from Woody Harrelson that reminds you why he continues to make the big bucks. Good kiss.
-Han and Q'ira (cape closet)
A very good attempt at furthering our understanding of the supposed romantic connection between our two leads, this pair of passionate snogs works in the moment, and makes sense with what we've come to learn about each of these characters. They like each other! I wonder what's gonna happen to make them not end up together? These OG trilogy character-based one-offs will always suffer from this, so it's probably good that they've canned most of them for the time being.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story:
No Kisses!! WTF? What's going on here? We get two parents separately saying goodbye (possibly forever) to their young daughter. No forehead smooches? A parent dying in your arms. What, not even a little cheek gracing? I will say however, I do like the fact that Jyn and Cassian don't kiss at the climactic moment, instead holding one another for support and feigned safety, a understanding of one another in a shared personal and tragic moment. There's a strength to that. Again, there'll be more on this later.
-Luke and Leia (on the cheek, corridor)
While the middle installment of this trilogy is practically an orgy in comparison to the other films, both the first and last installments contain exclusive smoochies from one male character to our pretty much only female character. First up, a kiss on the cheek for good luck, from Leia to Luke, who just met a couple of minutes ago, before possibly falling to their death. Always the polite thing to do, but only if you're comfortable with it.
-Luke and Leia (on the cheek, Yavin Base)
Now that they've known each other for about a day, Leia seems committed to this whole cheek kissing for good luck thing, so she plants another one, square on the X-Wing pilot's dimple before they all possibly get blown up. Again, a very nice thing and highly encouraged, but your feelings on the matter should always come first, so never kiss anyone on the cheek unless you really feel like it.
The Empire Strikes Back:
-Luke and Leia (on the lips, Hoth)
And here's the big one. Look, I know in retrospect this is pretty gross, and certainly confusing for younger audiences hip to the far, far away twists, but for what it's worth it's a good kiss! I'm on the record about that! Leia wants to make Han jealous, so she kisses someone who is already as close to her as a brother could be. Luke wasn't even ready for it, so there wasn't a whole lot of back and forth going on here.
-Honorable Mention: “I'd just as soon kiss a Wookie.”
You gotta admit, it's a good line.
-Han and Leia (first kiss)
Probably one of the most famous onscreen kisses of all time. A solid, tense build-up and a whirlwind of release, with a big ol' sloppy X planted firmly lip to lip. It's been one of the great trials of growing old, learning of the disastrous affair Ford and Fisher had prior to this film; they were sort of at each other's throats throughout the making of this film. Having that context has always sent a little shiver of discomfort through my heart, as I pay too close attention to the actor's mannerisms and reactions in the moment, but the kiss itself, and everything it represents to the coming events, is always enough to let me escape into the characters.
-Lando and Leia's hand
A nice moment that tells us everything we need to know about newcomer, Lando Calrissian. A smooth charmer with a taste for the extravagant, and a possible threat to Han's newfound romance, Lando asserts himself as a confident figure that we can't seem to pin down at first. And Leia's reaction to the effort is priceless.
-Han and Leia (on the forehead, holding cell)
A comforting caress of a kiss in a time of hardship and despair. Han looked like he needed it.
-Han and Leia (carbonite room)
What movies were made for, right here. One of the single most iconic moments in the entire Star Wars saga, kicked off by a stolen last kiss before certain death rips these two apart forever, a feeling made physical by the Stormtroopers literally pulling Han back into position for his deep freeze fate. Goodness, I love this fucking movie.
-Luke and Leia (on the lips, Millennium Falcon)
That's right! This chapter is book-shelved with incestuous desires! Before Leia returns to the cockpit to aid in the Falcon's escape from Cloud City, Leia plants yet another salutation of endearment right smack on Luke's lips. Bonus air kiss from Luke as Leia walks away, as if he longed for the moment to last. Creepy!
Return of the Jedi:
-Han and Leia (“Someone who loves you.”)
A reunion! Passionate as ever, and quickly ripped apart, yet again, by the cruel familiar laugh of ya boi, Jabba the Hutt.
-Han and Leia (“He's my brother.”)
Leia gives a reaffirming snog to a bewildered Han after revealing that Luke is her brother, so she definitely doesn't want to keep kissing him. This is an interesting time to point out that when I first watched these films, (at the mature age of 6 years young) I never understood the love triangle that seems to be so apparent to me these days between Han, Luke and Leia. I guess there was some kind of: “Who's gunna get da gurl?” thing going on in between Episodes IV and VI, which I honestly never locked into. Once again, more on this in just a moment.
-Han and Leia (Ewok reunion)
They blew up the Death Star! (Well, sorta. I guess they blew up a building that helped blow up the Death Star?) so let's get a fun quickie kiss in here! The movie is over, so kiss, dammit! And it's a good kiss. Light, fluffy, to the point. You gotta respect a good ol' fashioned direct kiss.
Now we break into the Sequel Trilogy, which has some of the weirdest choices in relationship building of any recent major franchise. The amount of possible romance arcs they introduce - completely give up on, sorta go back to, but then don't at all - is pretty wild. As you may have begun to infer around this point, the main crux of me writing this article was to talk about how the new Star Wars Sequel Trilogy treats kissing, but also relationships in general. And not just within the system creating these stories, but also how fans have reacted to these choices. I should restate: these are only my opinions on the matter, and therefore, judged by my own experiences of these films. They are based on my history - both being in love with other human beings, and watching other human beings fall in love (both in real life and on screen). So, included below are some quick recaps on the many romantic angles between different characters in the Sequel Trilogy up until the end of Episode VIII:
The Force Awakens:
-Finn and Rey (on the forehead)
I can't speak for everyone, but I can say in this first film, that it is very obvious that they were planting a romantic connection between Rey and Finn. It felt like perhaps, Finn was more into Rey than she was into him, (she had a lot shit going on for the past couple days) but this kiss nods to her connection to him as a friend, and possibly something more, which could be explored in the next film. It isn't.
*Finn likes Rey, but Rey is quite indifferent.
*Poe and Finn have some very good energy, that is borderline romantic. Poe seems more interested.
*Kylo Ren is a fanatic who kidnaps and tortures Rey. He kills her father figure (his own father), then proceeds to maim her best friend (apparently for good), and then he tries to kill her multiple times. These are big deals.
*Rey is worried about Finn, who may not recover. There may be feelings here.
The Last Jedi:
-Finn and Rose (crash site)
We don't get a kiss in The Last Jedi for a long time, and when we finally do, I believe it to be a pretty misunderstood one. Rose has romantic feelings for Finn - initially based on his fame - but as she gets to know him, she sees that he is just as confused as the rest of the Resistance. Her act at the end of Last Jedi is her grabbing a hold of that. Her kiss is not returned by Finn, who looks pretty darn confused immediately afterwards, partly due to him not understanding why she saved him to begin with, but also because he (DEFINITELY) hasn't even considered Rose as a possible romantic partner. This sets up an interesting dynamic for the next chapter, where Finn is attracted to Rey, but she does not seem to reciprocate his feelings; she is very preoccupied trying to save this weird emo cult guy. This is fun character stuff that could have led to moments of honesty, heartbreak and even some sweet, sweet space kisses. Alas, it did not.
*Rey is arguably not concerned whatsoever with even the existence of Finn throughout the course of the entire second film. This is understandable. Again, she has A LOT going on right now.
*Finn, however, very much still has feelings for Rey, and spends the movie on various side missions, all in order to protect her from returning to certain doom.
*Poe and Finn still have tremendous energy that is very hard to overlook, even if I believe shipping two fictional characters of the same sex who have not been described as queer in anyway is a tad weird. But hey, that's not my lane, so I'll digress.
*Kylo Ren and Rey are being connected by Snoke, and they begin to form a relationship with one another, one that is built on tension, unease, and a very hard line in the sand between each of their beliefs. Saying this tension equates to romantic or sexual tension says more about the person saying that then what the film ACTUALLY says about these two romantically. (You can want the two pretty people on screen to kiss, but don't confuse your escapist desires for intentional arcs of the characters). Personally, I wouldn't claim Darth Vader wanted to marry Luke based on their tension in Empire, and I see a lot of similarities between these two sets of relationships in these two films.
-Luke and Leia (on the forehead)
I mean, you just hafta to do it, right? Both within the context of the Star Wars story, the story of all of these actors over the years, and the fact that Carrie Fisher was gone by the time this film was released in theaters. It all works, and it works splendidly.
The Rise of Skywalker:
-Rey and Ben
Now we arrive at the big smooch in question: When a freshly resurrected Rey goes in for the tongue tango with a recently redeemed Ben Solo. This is gross. I literally squirmed in my seat when I first saw it, and I was completely blown away as to why everyone involved in this project would think that this was a smoothly executed idea. I'm not gonna argue that they shouldn't kiss, (I mean, they really shouldn't because they are canonically very much related, but that's never stopped Star Wars before. Ah, nostalgia.) but the handling of the kiss is a super sloppy sandwich. There's the fact that up until a few hours before it happens, Kylo Ren has spent years trying to kill Rey’s friends (and her, really) all the while telling Rey how stupid she is not to trust him. It's just a weird way to wrap up their connection, and while I'm not all that into the handling of the other characters’ romantic interests, (RIP any semblance of Rose’s arc) I must say, that this one very much drops the proverbial space ball.
My thinking on it is: it’s not only a way to appease the Reylo's of the world, but also to have this moment act as the very planned (at least by Abrams) redemption arc of Ben Solo. And for that purpose it works. There's just one problem. The kiss makes zero sense to the other person involved: Rey. This is what you do with this character after three movies? Say what you want about the possible romantic tensions shared between these two characters in some of these films, this is NOT how you handle it. In a film filled with issues - of various sizes and big deals - this moment ranks almost at the top of the “Very, Very Bad, Yuck” section, just under the fact that Rose has less screen time in this entire film than her sister did during the opening moments of The Last Jedi. Yes, that is 100% true. Bad kiss, no good, yucky yuck.
-The Commander Larma D'Acy Kiss
(onscreen same-sex kiss in a Star Wars movie)
Just my two cents on something that is in very much not my lane, but the same-sex kiss thing from Episode IX has had a weird inaccuracy attached to it that I thought I'd take a moment to clear up, should anyone be interested. While my thoughts on the kiss itself are: “I like it when people kiss and those two look pretty happy, yay, also that's sort of a big deal to do that,” your mileage may vary on the most powerful movie studio in the world making the choice to represent an entire culture of relationships on screen. But I think a lot of people’s problems fall down to the “too little, too late” area of opinions, which is just fine. My main beef is this: people constantly refer to the kiss as “in the background” or “blink and you'll miss it.” First off, it's not in the background. There are no major characters on screen (which I get is part of the problem) and these two are front and center, surrounded by others rejoicing. And the whole “blink and you'll miss it” thing is just plain stupid. It's the end of the movie that you've been watching for two hours; pay attention to the pictures. In short, the kiss looks great! They both look pretty happy and into it. Five star kiss.
All of these kisses have one very important thing in common: they are kisses. And kisses are very cool. From cheek pecks to full on snogs, a good kiss between characters always has something to translate. There’s always something being communicated outside of the physical act, be it an emotional reassurance, a release of built-up tension, or an earthshaking change in the dynamic of the characters and the story as a whole. A kiss is important, because in the context of a story, it is an important thing that comes at an important time between two important people. A well told story should feel alive, and the story’s life should create the kiss and make it grow. And its energy should surround us and bind us.
Founder of and programmer for Story Screen. Lover of stories and pizza in the dark. When he isn't watching movies, you can find him reading things about people watching movies. He currently resides in Poughkeepsie, NY and most assuredly is going through a French Connection phase.