Breakfast at Tiffany’s 1961

In the glitz and glamour of ‘Classic Hollywood’ lies almost at the centre of the whirlpool; ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Directed by ‘Blake Edwards’ and realised by ‘Paramount Studios’ in 1961, this classic of  a film has made a huge impact towards Cinema, and it’s made way for a timeless poster that has graced many walls. It’s a classy Romance that Hollywood can’t seem to make any more without the grace that its two leads bring to it.

The film stars ‘Holly Golightly’ (Audrey Hepburn) along with her neighbour and love interest ‘Paul Varjak’ (George Peppared). In all honesty you could argue that this film doesn’t have a plot, it’s a simple story about Holly realising that she doesn’t have to be independent and running from everything and everyone around her. Some may find the film too glossy and precious, but in reality it still holds its original charm that allowed it to win the hearts of many across the globe as Hepburn shines through the screen. Largely being set in Holly’s and Paul’s apartments, there is an uncanny feeling that the small set reflects the novella ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ written by ‘Truman Capote’ in 1958. The almost glamorous shambles that Holly lives in are comedic, her settee is an old bathtub, the phone makes an appearance in a party scene locked away in an battered trunk, and there are endless shoes hidden in cupboards. I love the set, it looks fun and something you’d expect a cheap New York apartment to look like in the 1960s. It’s a massive contrast to Pauls apartment in which it looks like a suite at the Ritz. I think the apartments are a huge focal point to the film, they represent the two very different people with a lot in common. Furthermore to add to the ‘play like’ set, there is a fantastic way that the actors use the sets around them. It is as if you are watching a play, as a film. Their acting is elaborate and stylised without breaking the format of characterisation. Audrey Hepburn is well known for her girly and innocent roles such as ‘Roman Holiday’ (1953) and Sabrina (1954) so for a performance as a not so innocent but slightly confused ‘Holly Golightly’ there is a certain charm about this role reversal.

breakfast

Throughout the film there are examples of classic Hollywood at its best. One scene in particular is a soft and gentle scene where Holly sings ‘Moon River’, Written for the film by Henry Mancini, it won an Academy Award for best song. In this scene Holly is playing it on her Guitar to ‘Cat’ her nameless cat. From above, Paul is seen looking down on her as she sings on her balcony. This whole scene, seems very raw and honest, there’s a massive amount of charm to it and every time I watch it, it makes me smile. Likewise to this scene, there is the madness of a party held in Holly’s flat where there appear to be some quite high and popular people in there. In the commotion that this scene is filmed in, with close ups and long endless panning shots, you certainly feel like you are at this party with everyone, like the camera is dancing with you. Even though this scene was filmed almost sixty years ago.

It is though after all of this film, the ending that will make everyone fall in love with this film. After Paul admits his love for Holly in the back of a taxi with her, she reply’s with ‘so what’. The audience has been falling in love with Holly all through the film and admiring her crazy but fun looking lifestyle. This is the first point in the film where I thought how selfish and mean she could actually be. Luckily for us, she see’s sense and jumps out after him and the cat (which she threw out into the rain) and the ending simply just is really beautiful.  Of course there is the pathetic fallacy with rain pouring down on them all, and a sympathetic shot of the wet cat with its paws on the railings crying, but it’s a fluffy romance. There is always going to be rain, snow or an argument leading to a resolution, look at every romance film and no doubt these traits will be in there somewhere. However Breakfast at Tiffany’s isn’t just another romance film that Hollywood pumps out every month. It’s about as sophisticated as a romance can get.

The soundtrack was composed by Henry Mancini, it’s the very essence of jazz that swept the 1960s and through many of it, an instrumental rendition of ‘Moon River’. The soundtrack works very well with the film in many ways, as it in particular makes Hepburn’s performance a lot stronger and polished. It also gained good critical reception, and has since been realised over and over again across the globe. Following on from this, Breakfast at Tiffany’s itself won a huge amount of critical reception as well. In 1961 the ‘New York Times’ called the film ‘Completely unbelievable but wholly captivating’ and I couldn’t agree more. Some people weren’t happy that when it was in production, Audrey Hepburn was the leading lady as ‘Marylyn Monroe’ was set to play the part of Holly, but thought it would be bad for her image. And quite honestly, there was no one better to play the part of Holly Golightly. Hepburn is fun and fresh, she captivates a role in a way I haven’t many actresses do since, she makes Breakfast at Tiffany’s a triumph of a film that I will continue to watch for a long time.


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