Words: Ced Yuen
'Breakfast At Tiffany’s' is associated with a certain image. Audrey Hepburn in full evening dress, clad in diamonds and pearls, cigarette holder in hand. It is Hepburn at her most iconic, the epitome of style and glamour. It is an image known even to those who have never seen the film.
Another image, lesser known but no less iconic, has George Peppard and Hepburn declaring their love for each other in the pouring rain. It is one of the most romantic moments in film history, one that has been replicated thousands of times over the years.
The film’s reputation does no favours for the film itself. Hepburn appears like that for all of the five minutes that it takes for the opening credits to pass. Peppard and Hepburn barely have time to kiss before the end credits roll. There is more to 'Breakfast At Tiffany’s' than glamour and romance.
Holly (Hepburn) is a free-spirited girl who dreams of marrying a millionaire, but runs away when they get too close. Paul (Peppard) is an unsuccessful writer, whose life is transformed when he moves into Holly’s building, swept into her dizzyingly unstructured life.
The romantic side of things is fairly typical - a man meets a woman; they affect each other and eventually get together because love conquers obstacles. It is sweet, but not memorable. However, things get interesting when it comes to characterisation. Holly initially appears as an incredibly shallow individual, who plays with the affections of men in order to get to their wallets.
Eventually, it becomes apparent that there is more to her than meets the eye. She has a cat, but refuses to give it a name. Despite living in the same apartment for over a year, she insists on living out of suitcases. Such idiosyncrasies make Holly a fascinating, atypical character. As her story progresses, her carefree façade begins to crack, betraying her insecurities and hinting at her background.
Hepburn gives a wonderful performance, so nuanced that it is debateable whether Holly’s behaviour is an act, or if she is genuinely living in a state of denial. Peppard’s performance is more straightforward, but nonetheless demonstrates the actor’s range - something that is usually overshadowed by his association with 'The A-Team'.
This being classic Golden-era Hollywood, there is a certain charm to the film. The script is well written. The dialogue is memorable. Holly and Paul’s quasi-neighbourly interactions are very sweet, enhanced by Hepburn and Peppard’s natural chemistry.
When it comes to comedy, the film aims to generate smiles rather than full-on laughter, and most of the time it is successful. Mickey Rooney’s performance as Holly’s Japanese-caricature neighbour is an example of the more dated attempts at comedy, but it never goes far enough to be offensive.
Overall, 'Breakfast At Tiffany’s' deserves its reputation as a timeless classic. Although many elements of the film have been copied and imitated over the years, it remains a unique and stylishly presented story. More importantly, it has survived last 50 years, and a changing cinematic landscape, without becoming stale.
The high definition transfer of 'Breakfast At Tiffany’s' is not as important as the restoration and re-mastering of the film. The image is nicely sharpened, but very often this is not noticeable because of all the colours. Originally filmed in Technicolor, the film was saturated in the first place. After being restored and re-mastered, the colours are incredibly rich. The blacks are darker, and the primary hues are brighter, which emphasises the gorgeous yellows of a New York taxi or the reds of Hepburn’s coat.
The picture has been cleaned up; certain shots look as though they were filmed last week. This may be good for people (like myself) who are new to the film, but long-time fans of the film may prefer the feel of nostalgia that accompanies film grain.
For the 50th anniversary release of the film, Paramount has delivered an abundance of extra features. Aside from the obligatory commentary track, there are 8 documentaries. These are actually pretty interesting, and give existing fans of the film another reason to check out this release.
- Commentary by producer Richard Shepherd
- A Golightly Gathering
- Henry Mancini: More Than Music
- Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective
- The Making of a Classic
- It’s So Audrey: A Style Icon
- Behind the Gates: The Tour
- Brilliance in a Blue Box
- Audrey’s Letter to Tiffany
- Photo Galleries (movie, production, publicity)
- Original Theatrical Trailer
'Breakfast At Tiffany’s' is available to purchase on Blu-Ray at your local retailer, Amazon.co.uk etc.