Thursday, June 20, 2013

Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
In all honesty, I haven't watched a film for probably getting on a month due to the countless amounts of classic TV series that the girlfriend and I have been sifting through (Lost, My Family, Peep Show, Hustle). But, during a recent spree on eBay, I managed to pick up The Audrey Hepburn 3 Film Collection (including Sabrina and Funny Face) for a bargain. As a result, I could finally achieve something I've been trying to do for a while and watch Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Breakfast At Tiffany's, the movie, is not to be confused with Breakfast At Tiffany's, the Truman Capote novella, on which Breakfast At Tiffany's, the movie, is based. It is also not to be be confused with Breakfast At Tiffany's, the song by Deep Blue Something, which is about using Breakfast At Tiffany's, the movie, to reconcile with a girlfriend. Capice?

Despite being an American literary classic, my first experience of Breakfast At Tiffany's actually came from the song although, because of my age, it was a 2003 cover version by Jannik (which is pretty good - the girlfriend and I both kinda liked it) that first crossed my path. Naturally, I would ignorantly sing the lyrics and wonder what was so special about Tiffany that would make some guy want to have morning crumpets with her.

Fortunately, in the ten years since the re-release of that song, I've become slightly more educated. After watching Capote and In Cold Blood, along with reading the book around which those films are based, my admiration for Truman Capote was piqued and his classic 1958 romantic comedy was the natural progressive step.

Breakfast At Tiffany's is about Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), a socialite who Capote once described as an "American geisha". She spends her days courting rich men in exchange for money which she tries, in vain, to save for the return of her brother, Fred, who is serving in the military.

Paul Varjak (George Peppard), a writer (from whose view the novella is written), moves into the apartment above Holly's and, because of his similar life situation, Holly befriends him. Initially, Paul is uninterested in Holly because of her extravagant lifestyle, but gradually he finds himself drawn into her naïve little world.

The first thing that can really be said about Breakfast At Tiffany's is that it was written (and subsequently released) at the right time. Following the screwball comedies of the 1930's and 1940's (Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday), the romantic comedy genre had petered out by the end of the 1950's. Breakfast At Tiffany's seemed like the natural evolution of the genre that would later give us some of the worst films ever made.

Rather than providing the audience with a character that is easy to imagine being your next door neighbour as had been the norm before, the swinging 60's and Breakfast At Tiffany's brought in the concept that this was probably happening to someone else you'll never meet. It also embraced sexuality where its predecessors shied away from the taboo.

Breakfast At Tiffany's showcases a romance you feel will only ever happen at the start of a relationship when it feels like something new and exciting. It's dashed with the idyllic sentiments of a first date and its backing track of Moon River is a stroke of genius especially as Holly serenades Cat as Paul looks on wistfully to the mellow tones.

For all of Audrey Hepburn's glamour - and in Breakfast At Tiffany's she is simply sublime - Holly Golightly is not someone you'd expect to bump into on the streets of New York. She's a member of a society that doesn't take part in 9 to 5 office work. She's what every woman should aspire to with their newly found freedom, while less obviously the majority of men are depicted as snivelling and desperate.

Really, it's this new, exciting and romantic group of oddballs that makes Breakfast At Tiffany's the American literary - and movie - classic that still retains its charm today.

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