This month my book club is reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. This is one of my all-time favorite books and all-time favorite movies. This month, I reminded the book club that this is one book where watching the movie instead of reading the book will not be sufficient. Given the drastically different tone of each work and the differing endings, the book and its film adaptation are not interchangeable. How can I love a movie so much that differs so greatly from the book I love? Maybe it’s the soundtrack featuring “Moon River”? Maybe it’s the beautiful Audrey Hepburn? Maybe I just love Holly Golightly in any form.
One difference between book and movie is the time period in which each of these works is set. “Critics consider Breakfast at Tiffany's a well-structured, beautifully paced portrait of 1940s New York that captures the manners and language of the time with an easy charm and grace.” (Characters in 20th-Century Literature. Laurie Lanzen Harris. Detroit: Gale Research, 1990. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 June 2012.) While the book is called a “portrait of the 1940s” the movie is set in the early 1960s. Audrey Hepburn’s style and oversized sunglasses became synonymous with early 1960s style. While time period is not a major difference, there are some major differences when it comes to theme.
Critics have said the film’s director changed the tone and meaning of the book. A critic says the film’s director, “Gallantly rewards Holly's fantasizing with a happy fairy-tale ending, even though love and matrimony-ever-after are assuredly not what Capote's Holly had in mind.” (“Brunch on Moon River” The Modern American Novel and the Movies. Ed. Gerald Peary and Roger Shatzkin. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1978. p236-246.) In the book, Holly is still searching for her happy ending. Maybe she’ll find it or maybe the romantic in me is just hoping she will?
If you would like to find more articles about Holly Golightly as a character or more comparisons between the book and the movie you can go to the library’s online databases. All the citations I used in this post were found on the OC Public Libraries databases. These databases are free to access with your library card and can be located on our website. I used the Literature Resource Center database and typed in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. For more information about Truman Capote and where he got his inspiration for his character, Holly Golightly, check out his biography Capote: A Biography. The book,the film and the biography are available at the library.
How do you prefer Holly Golightly, in print or on film?