Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breakfast at Tiffany's - The Book and the Film


My book club's next assignment is Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. The movie version with Audrey Hepburn is one of my favorite films. Its a movie I own in its dvd version and one I watch once every two years or so. It's the film I'll choose when I'm ill with the flu and I just want to curl up on the sofa during the daytime with a beautiful movie. I love it. I love Audrey and George Peppard and the whole atmosphere of the film. New York in the 1960s, the parties, Tiffany's and the crazy neighbours and suitors. Oh and the music....it's a poignant moment when Audrey sings Moon River with her guitar. I was curious how this novella would compare to the film.

I was surprised that Capote's version is different. It's not a love story and you learn that practically in the first page where the unnamed narrator (George Peppard's character) is remembering his old neighbour Holly Golightly. From the first few sentences, I already knew the book would have a different ending from the film. The narrator is a friend who was never in love with Holly. It's been hinted in reviews that he might even be gay if Capote was basing the character on himself. Certainly, there's no romantic love for Holly; fascination and friendship - yes, but that's it and it's perfectly ok. I loved the novella on it's own just as much as the film. Capote's writing is pitch perfect with not a word wasted. It flows wonderfully and it's so easy to just read this 111 page novella in one sitting. The dialogue is charming and witty and the atmosphere that was played out in the film is all there: the parties, the crazy neighbours and the suitors. The only difference is that it's New York in the 1940s. Oh and the Cat! One musn't forget the Cat who's quite an integral part of this whole book. In the end, the Cat finds a home to belong to and it's assumed that somewhere, somehow, Holly does too.

Holly is delightful but sometimes also sad. In fact, because I've read the book, I appreciate Audrey's excellent and very nuanced acting even more. She really did a fantastic job and is completely the Holly Golightly that Capote created. And though Hollywood changed the ending and made it partly a romantic movie, I think it's perfectly ok too. Both are beautiful works of art.

"What I've found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany's. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany's, then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name. " (page 40)

19 comments:

  1. I love the movie, too, and been curious about the book for a while now. I also appreciate how you point out that the book and the film are two different works of art and can be judged on their own merits. I think a lot of people forget that when they watch movies that were inspired by books.

    Thanks for the great review. Oh, and I was thinking we could hold the NYRB week on the second week of November. What do you think?

    Btw, is your book club a face-to-face club and is it in the country? See, I'm thinking of doing a write-up on local book clubs.

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  2. Capote was such a fabulous writer. BAT is one of my favourite books ever. And Audrey was so lovely and unique. They don't make movies like that anymore! :)

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  3. @fantaghiro23 - Thanks for your comment. Second week of November sounds good for NYRB week and yes my book club is a face-to-face one.

    @Violet - Capote is brilliant. The only other book I've read by him was In Cold Blood, excellent but disturbing.

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  4. I so want to read this now LOL I have heard it was very different to the film but Ive only seen the film once and can hardly remember it anyway.

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  5. Somehow I read the book before actually seeing the film, although knew all the swoons about the film. The book is darker but you're right - they're both good.

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  6. I haven't read the book, but the movie is one of my favorites. I was about to ask if you'd read In Cold Blood, but I see from one of your above comments that you have. I thought that one was excellent. And I liked the movie with Philip Seymour Hoffman, too.

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  7. I love the movie (time to watch it again!), but have never read the book - had heard they were very different though. I recently purchased the book, so there's no excuse now.

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  8. I definitely want to read this one ASAP - it sounds like it will be such a great read. Great post! I'm glad I bought the book on a whim, because now I can just pick it up and dive into NYC in the 40s. Thanks!

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  9. I loved the ending in the novella - it was more of a "whatever happened to..." vibe. Another great book/film: Rosemary's Baby. The screenplay was written practically word for word and it is fascinating to see how Mia Farrow tackles those midwestern lines.

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  10. I've long been a big fan of the movie and only recently read the book. They are both terrific. And I love the picture you found.

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  11. I've considered the movie a treasure for years and when I read the novella years ago, I also considered it a treasure but in a different way. They are both wonderful.

    There are so many wonderful scenes in the movie but that party scene has got to be the best one ever!!

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  12. I thought Audrey Hepburn's version of Holly was superb and true to the book too.

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  13. what a great book and great movie! Did you knwo that Capote was really mad Hepburn was cast? He wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly! Wow, what a movie that would have been!

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  14. I also would rate Breakfast at Tiffany's one of my favourite movies and I too, watch it every 2 years or so! When I lived in NYC, I would watch it very late at night...and the movie became even more closer to heart when I worked at Tiffany & Co. for half a year in the back office selling corporate gifts to corporations. The building itself is filled with so much class, energy and history. I haven't read the book yet, but it has been one which I've been meaning to. Thanks for posting your review Mrs. B - I am going to go and purchase the book today!

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  15. @Tessa Scoffs - Yes, I've seen and read Rosemary's Baby and it is also a perfect adaptation. Very scary though!

    @Ti - I agree! That party scene is the best!

    @Carin S. - No, I didn't know Capote preferred Marilyn. She would probably have done a great job too but Audrey is definitely the superior actress. I wonder what he thought of the film after he saw it?

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  16. @ Irene! You never told me you worked at Tiffany's! How cool is that? You are so full of surprises.

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  17. I've never seen the movie (a crime, I know!), but I absolutely loved the book! Did your version have some of Capote's short stories at the end of it? Mine did, and there was one that took place in Jamaica (I think) that was fantastic!

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  18. Not a word wasted, witty dialogue... I agree. Holly is adorable, Capote is a skillful a writer as one can ever be. BTW, I started The Book Thief and I'm loving it already : )

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  19. I love the movie but I have never read the book. Thanks for the lovely post :)

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