A first kiss is always memorable. It always intimates something more, of a moment of passion that has yet to be realized. But there is always a hint and a spark the first moment that lovers meet.
The tints and shades of the vibrant images in The Quiet Man also promise deep passion, and the ethereal blues and fleshly reds of Mary Kate Danaher’s shepherdess ensemble evoke images of Madonnas reposing in cathedrals and churches, but Mary Kate evokes the promise of the flesh with the dedication of fealty to her heritage, her church, and her own convictions. When Sean Thornton is stricken by the vision of Mary Kate in the meadow tending to the sheep, her gaze promises that her “Walls of Jericho” eventually will crumble in dedication and in response equal to the flood of Sean Thornton’s emotions.
The first kiss: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MkQyRE0byBI
Sean is searching in the dark, confused and unsure of his feelings. He knows something has changed in the cottage. He realizes something is different. The undulating rhythm of the wind ignites passion like the fire burning in the center of the frame at the beginning of the scene, like the fire burning in the hearts of the lovers. They both recognize the passion. It initiates, approaches, retreats, and finally resolves into the physical manifestation of Mary Kate’s slap, revealing how she still struggles with the strength of her desires for Sean Thornton.
In The Quiet Man, the first kiss between Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton, does just that. It reveals a tempestuousness, a desire, and an incomparable yet incomplete passion, and viewers recognize that unrequited passion, either from their own lives, or in the lives of others. The yearning and desire from the first kiss in The Quiet Man between Mary Kate and Sean reveals expectation, but once the initial kiss is rebuffed by Mary Kate’s slap, viewers are strapped in for the desperate buggy ride to the final moment of The Quiet Man‘s fully-realized passion later in the film.
In the cemetery, Mary Kate and Sean both reveal they don’t want to wait for the “walking out together” or the “thrashing parties.” Their first embrace, however, elicits a bolt of lightening and a clap of thunder, and Mary Kate immediately makes the sign of the cross over her heart, revealing her fear that her love for a man has superseded the desires of her loyalty to her God and her church. She seeks a divine protection from the unbridled passion in her soul.
Mary Kate then looks at Sean with a fear in her eyes, and retreats to the safety of the arch of a long-disintegrated church or chapel, bringing Sean into her imagined comfort zone. Sean follows her, and they release the desire they have felt since Sean first saw the vision of the shepherdess in the verdant meadow. Mary Kate doesn’t retreat from Sean’s attentions anymore.
The second kiss: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hHWdzUvXecQ
Surrounded by a storm and weathering the drops of rain anointing their love, they commit to each other’s desires and passions under the arch that represents an accepting embrace of their fleshly plea for each other.
Maureen O’Hara, in her 2004 autobiography with John Nicoletti, ‘Tis Herself, revealed her explanation for the lasting nature of the popularity of those scenes: “Why is the scene so erotic? Why were Duke and I so electric in our love scenes together? I was the only leading lady big enough and tough enough for John Wayne. Duke’s presence was so strong that when audiences saw him finally meet a woman of equal hell and fire, it was exciting and thrilling” and during “those moments of tenderness, when the lovemaking was about to begin, audiences saw for a half-second that he had finally tamed me–but only for that half-second.”
In light of the Pope’s visit to this hemisphere this week, it is fitting that such a film be discussed on such a historic day and in conjunction with St. Valentine’s Day. The struggles allowed to voice themselves in John Ford’s The Quiet Man reveal how closely, in some respects, the film adheres to Catholic precepts of proper behavior in the 1950s. Mary Kate Danaher exemplifies chastity before marriage, acquiescing to her religious beliefs, but the worldly Sean Thornton brings all the disregard of tradition expected of a worldly-wise pugilist. His resolve to win the heart of the woman he loves forces him to reevaluate his attitude toward local Irish traditions, Catholic religious beliefs, and the village that raises his inner child, as well as the woman who ignites his soul.
Do real life experiences ever approach the passion in this film? They obviously do, or at least viewers of this film hope they do. To find such a passion, experience it, and accept it is what makes our existence thrive and resonate with our own desires.
Here’s hoping all visitors to the Kissathon have such a kiss in your future!
Read more about what people have said about The Quiet Man…
Link to article and official trailer for “Discovering The Quiet Man” Documentary:
Leonard Maltin discusses the “Discovering The Quiet Man” Documentary: http://blogs.indiewire.com/leonardmaltin/re-examining-john-wayne-and-the-quiet-man-20150309
Malachy McCourt and his disdain for The Quiet Man: http://www.irishcentral.com/culture/entertainment/Quiet-Man-an-idiotic-stupid-anti-Irish-film-Malachy-McCourt.html
Aurora roars about The Quiet Man: http://aurorasginjoint.com/2012/07/31/the-quiet-man/
The official TCM comments: http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/24069/The-Quiet-Man/articles.html
I would be remiss in my duties to fans of Miss O’Hara if I did not reiterate Miss O’Hara’s urging to audiences at the TCM Film Festival in 2014 that her religious beliefs played a very important part in her life and the decisions she made during her introduction to How Green Was My Valley with Robert Osborne.
“It is wonderful to be the age I am, and still have God unable to put up with me”: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e3IhZu6Fb6w
Scorsese on the smooch: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/scorsese-quiet-man-kiss-is-one-of-cinemas-best-217816.html
This post was created in conjunction with Second Sight Cinema for “A Kiss is Just a Kiss Blogathon” here: http://secondsightcinema.com/happy-valentines-day-weekend-weldome-to-the-you-must-remember-this-a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss-blogathon/
Check out all the fabulous blog posts about kisses! http://secondsightcinema.com/happy-valentines-day-weekend-weldome-to-the-you-must-remember-this-a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss-blogathon/