Thursday, February 18, 2010

Vintage Novels {Breakfast at Tiffany's}

This is one of the most beautiful and heart-breaking book that I have ever read. In just over a hundred pages, Mr Capote created two intriguing characters in a world of their own where every single word is perfect and must be savoured. If you haven't read this novella before, then do rush down to your local book seller tomorrow and demand a copy. You wont regret it!
Of course, one cannot help but compare it to the movie, since more people have watched AH eating a Danish then have read it. Given that the film was made while the Code was still in effect, I think that it is an extremely close adaptation aside from some major plot alterations.
This was actually the first time that I watched the film the same day that I read the book and I found that I understood Holly better then I ever had before. However, you should only follow this method if you have seen the film a few times before so that your focus is on the plot and not on Givenchy.
Obviously the Narrator had to be changed, because a named kept man/struggling writer was approved by the censors and not an unnamed struggling gay writer like he is in the book. I'm not sure how a kept man was approved of within the Code but I like the original Narrator better, because he's better at observing and understanding Holly's character. I also find the falling outs between Holly and the Narrator to be much more realistic and have the possibility of permanence rather than a flighty fight.
In the book, Holly is only nineteen, a playgirl (it is only implied that she works as a prostitute) who has flirted with bisexuality, admits to smoking pot and has an abortion near the end. Clearly none of this could be shown. However, they didn't change her personality or her aspirations (except at the end) and by casting AH instead of Marilyn, the film retains Holly's simple, effortlessly well-dressed style.
In the book, Mag Wildwood is 6 feet tall and a major character, since she lives with Holly for a few months and is the one who is engaged to Jose before she marries Rusty (whom Holly is dating). I've always felt that the filmmakers could have done more with her character, who is quite amusing and has cultivated an unusual look that wont transfer well to celluloid.
Jose is also a larger character, since he does live with Holly for several months and he is the only person for whom Holly feels a domestic duty to. I like him better in the book since I found it to have a better explanation as to why he is loyal to his family name and position above all else.
Obviously, the worst thing in the film is Mickey Rooney. In the book, Mr. Yunioshi is only seen once and mentioned a few times. The busybody neighbour is Madame Sapphia, a singer and rollar-skating enthusiast and I have no idea why she was left out of the film but Mickey Rooney is the only thing that I would change about the film.
There are two important objects in the book which sadly were not included in the movie. First is an empty bid cage which the Narrator sees in an antiques store and shows it to Holly the point of it's fantasy and she buys it for the Narrator at Christmas and makes him promise to never put anything live in it. The only birdcage in the film is one with a live bird in it at Holly's apartment during the party. I had never noticed that shot before but now I see how wrong it is to have that in Holly's apartment, since she knows that she doesn't belong in a cage and tied to anything/anyone and would never trap anything in a cage.
The other object is what the Narrator first notices anything about Holly and that is her calling card, which he sees in her mailbox. It says "Miss Holiday Golightly, Travelling". Firstly, isn't that the most musical name that you've ever heard? Secondly, in the book that is what Holly does, since she is still looking for a place that feels like Tiffany's so that she can call it home, which is really the whole point of the character and why she comes across as being eternally lonely and yearning. Before I read the book, the film's ending had always bothered my, because it seemed out of character for Holly. Even though it's sadder, I like the book's ending better because no one is ever supposed to fully know the past and future of Holly, because she chooses to only inhibit the present.
It's well known that Mr. Capote wanted Marilyn instead of AH playing Holly. I like the way that AH played Holly because she was such a good actress and could show Holly's innocence and vulnerability behind her chic facade. I can't imagine how Marilyn would have played the role but I can see the similarities between her and Holly because they were both searching for something to fill a void and never being quite able to get there.

1 comment:

'Xander@416cyclestyle said...

ahh breakfast at Tiffany's.. i purchased the italian version movie poster from a street vendor in rome.. on of my favorite films, and books..