Books On Film | Breakfast at Tiffany's

Books on Film: Breakfast at Tiffany's


Where to begin with Truman Capote's incredibly well-developed, and overly animated characters?! My oh my! While the storyline is really the sub factor in his stories, the characters are out of this world! I was gushing, speechless, and wanting to shout to the world all at the same time! Breakfast at Tiffany's is, admittedly, my first Capote read. This particular edition is armed with three additional short stories that are equally darling - I can't recommend it enough! They are jam packed with interest, enough so to be satisfied, but also enough to leave your imagination wandering for all of time. He has most certainly set a new standard for character development in my reading life.

Now, on to the film. Audrey Hepburn, enough said, right? She's as iconic to watch now as she was then. Her role is brilliant and she does a truly outstanding job living up to the well versed and charismatic character he first wrote about. There are slight details missing from the film that developed her uniqueness in the book that I was sad to see left out, but understandably so. While I am a FIRM BELIEVER in books being better than the film version, I truly loved the film adaptation and the adjustment made to the very end of the story. Without offering any spoilers, I'll just leave it with warm and charming it made the story. Well played Hollywood, well played.


Though Truman Capote is a household name, I had never actually read any of his works before picking up Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was immediately clear why he is such a beloved author, his tone and personality glow bright through his writing and that offbeat, almost weird tone is woven irresistibly through his story and characters. The plot is practically irrelevant, and certainly secondary to his character development, which is rich and nuanced and most definitely alive. It's rare to read fully realized, quirky characters and Holly Golightly is charming, deeply flawed, and undeniably human. In the book she is stylish and charismatic, but underneath is much more cunning and selfish, but the movie takes that darker side of her, the side that made her real and interesting and amazing to watch, completely out. Instead you get a Hollywood movie with a Hollywood ending, which rings completely false to Capote's characters. 

Audrey Hepburn is enchanting, stylish and iconic in this role of course, but she is not truly playing Capote's Holly. Charming and elusive, naive and cunning, insecure and delusional, Holly takes her tragic background and constructs a glittering facade for herself, but we always, in the book, see it as just that: a facade. The movie makes the facade the reality and almost completely ignores the true essence of Holly. Also, Fred, who is gay in the book, is only platonically in love with Holly, while in the movie, "Paul" is a kept man and romantically in love with Holly, which ultimately makes all the difference in the ending. Of course the movie was made in the 60's so a gay character could never exist, but it's still frustrating to watch a complex friendship in the text become nothing more than a traditional romance on screen. The movies creates a story about a charming, slightly wild young woman who needs the right man to come along and tame her; a classic Hollywood plot. It works as a movie, but is a total over simplification and bastardization of Capote's book and characters. What's worse is the movie presents the classic narrative of "women need saving" by forcefully domesticating Holly in the end, while the book utterly thwarts that, and is the stronger for it.

A fully fleshed out and interesting cast of characters became nothing more than traditional tropes on screen and it's so disappointing. I honestly liked this movie before I read the book; it was a classic, Hepburn was charming and intriguing, Fred was dashing and their love seemed inevitable, but I can never again see it in the same light after having experienced the text. 

Michaela Devine