Ranking the kiss scenes of Austen screen adaptations

Yes, I’ve suffered through multiple watchings of kiss clips to bring you this very important list. A few notes:

  • These rankings do not necessarily reflect my opinion on the adaptation itself. They are based on subjective “feels” elicited by JUST the kiss that brings the couple together (although there are exceptions).
  • As far as the kiss goes, I’m looking for hotness, sweetness, and emotional payoff. Again, all subjective. I’ve linked to videos where possible. (Browse my Austen Kisses playlist)
  • I’ve included straight Austen adaptations, modern interpretations, and even Austen-related homages here. If an adaptation isn’t listed, it’s because I haven’t seen it.

Let’s get on to the smooches, shall we?

Unranked: Neither Bride and Prejudice nor Ang Lee’s 1995 Sense and Sensibility have any kissing.

19. Emma 1996 (ITV)

The age difference between Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong seems more pronounced than other versions. It doesn’t help that he brings up holding her when she was three weeks old right before he leans in. (video link)

18. Death Comes to Pemberley

There were good things about this fan fiction brought to the small screen, but the chemistry between Mr. and Mrs. Darcy wasn’t one of them. Now, because they are married, the kiss that signals the end of their estrangement soon morphs into make-up sex, but I’m ranking JUST the kiss!
Death Comes to Pemberley kiss1 Death Comes to Pemberley kiss2

17. From Prada to Nada

This cute update set in modern-day Los Angeles gives us two heroines, Nora and Mary Dominguez. I find the Mary kiss hotter, despite the wheelchair and neck brace. Go Fez! (videos – Mary and Bruno, Nora and Edward)

16. Mansfield Park 2007

A strange and perplexing adaptation. But the kiss is OK, I guess. (video link)

15. Persuasion 1995

Yes to Ciaran Hinds in a naval uniform. Yes.

Persuasion 1995 kiss1 Persuasion 1995 kiss2

14. Emma Approved

This web series had its moments, and the kiss was definitely a highlight. (video link)

EA kiss1 EA kiss 2

13. Mansfield Park 1999

Sure, liberties were taken with Fanny’s character. But Jonny Lee Miller has awesome pointy sideburns! (video link)
MP 1999 kiss1

12. Sense and Sensibility 2008

After Elinor’s rare but justified emotional breakdown, she gets her happy ending, and her smooch. (video link)

S&S 2008 kiss

11. Pride and Prejudice 1995

Considering that Darcy’s gazes throughout were much hotter, I find this a disappointing final kiss. We know Mr. Firth can do better (see #1).
P&P 1995 kiss

10. Pride and Prejudice 2005 “American ending”

The good: Matthew MacFadyen’s voice; the pause before their lips meet.

The bad: the lighting; the dialogue – plenty of Austen-written dialogue was cut to keep length down, but this inferior stuff is given almost 2 minutes? Priorities, Joe Wright. (video link)

P&P 2005 kiss

9. Emma 2009

This is the best Mr. Knightley love confession in my opinion. The kiss is a lovely mutual exploration, as you might expect from two old friends. (video link)

Emma 2009 kis1 Emma 2009 kiss2

8. Clueless

I am totally butt-crazy in love this movie. (video link)

Clueless kiss

7. Northanger Abbey 2007

So cute! Catherine is adorably eager and innocent, but I can imagine her letting Henry drag her into all sorts of dark corners in the future. (video link)

NA kiss1 NA kiss2

6. Lost in Austen

Don’t be distracted by Amanda’s hair. There are more interesting things going on: like his hands, and his shoulders. I’m also a fan of the orbiting camera that takes in all of Pemberley’s grounds. (video link)
Lost in Austen kiss1 Lost in Austen kiss2

5. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Daniel Vincent Gordh should always be in profile, if you ask me. The dialogue in this episode is clunky, but there’s no denying that the kissing is primo. (video link)

LBD kiss 1 LBD kiss 2

4. Emma 1996

He rode through the rain. It’s a good line, but it doesn’t make up for cutting canon lines like “I cannot make speeches,” and “If I loved you less…” Despite these egregious omissions, the kiss is lovely. The giant tree is pretty awesome too. (video link)

Emma 1996 kiss

3. Persuasion 2007

The uncomfortably close shot of breathless, tearful Anne stretching, stretching up to kiss Captain Wentworth doesn’t rank this high. But the spinning kiss-that-morphs-into-waltz deserves #3. And oh yeah, Rupert Penry-Jones. (video link)

Persuasion 2007 kiss1 Persuasion kiss2

2. Austenland

Austen fantasies come to life? Tally Ho!

Austenland kiss 2
Austenland kiss2

1. Bridget Jones’s Diary

Oh dear. Proper Mr. Darcy drops an f-bomb. Less surprising is Bridget chasing him through snowy city streets in her underwear. Who can blame her, really? Good luck, crazy girl!

BJD kiss nice boys

All images courtesy of tumblr.

OK, hit me with your arguments on why my order is way off.

P.S. As great as these Austen kisses are, none of them can top the train station kiss in Gaskell’s North and South. (video link – you’re welcome.)

4 Responses

  1. Christina Boyd

    I agree Thornton kiss is the best. Hands down. But as for Austen, I liked 1, 2, 4, 9, 10… Maybe not the rankings but those are the ones I enjoyed. Loved your posting this. Thanks.

    • kckahler

      You’re welcome! Yeah, I doubt that the N&S kiss can ever be topped. So, we’ll just have to watch it over and over and over.

  2. Anji

    Oh you poor dear, having to suffer like that to bring us this list!

    Yes, 1995’s final scene kiss was a BIG disappointment after all the build up. Surely they could have put one in the second proposal scene? I’ve always assumed, ever since I first read the book, that a kiss happened there somewhere, even though it’s not explicitly stated.

    And yes, also, the railway station kiss from N&S has to come out top of any list like this, even though it’s not Austen.

    • kckahler

      Yep, that’s how dedicated I am.

      I can also easily imagine that Darcy expressing himself “sensibly and warmly” after the second proposal includes kissing. It’s a shame we don’t have a screen version like that.