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Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – A Thothful Movie Review

Reviews Thoth

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – A Thothful Movie Review


The Thoth Plot (My Prologue to Breakfast at Tiffany’s) –

“Two drifters off to see the world!” – is told a boy by the girl, the sister of these two shifters lost to the wilds… chasing the moon in the river for miles.

Stealing to feed ones to the two, the sister cat soon – learns how to meeew, and meews her way into a home… so her brother won’t have to ever be alone.

And when the others secured, like a broken bird’s wings – cured, the cat flees at the spur, to win more freedom for her… with her looks and a purr.

“Such a lot of world to see”, feeling finally free, to now forever – be jolly, she calls herself Holly.

Crossing miles in style, she smiles and she sings… to the moon in the river to never – love a wild thing”

(… or I’m thinking, you could just read the plot on IMDB or watch the trailer on YouTube – if only to see how they did trailers in the 60’s)

Who is Holly Golightly?

Famous novelist and screenwriter – Truman Capote, whose novella – Breakfast at Tiffany’s is based on, described her as an American Geisha. An escort girl – I’m thinking.  

If – from the title you thought Breakfast at Tiffany’s would be a classic girly romance, and now think that it is going to be a grey movie with a questionable protagonist, who does questionable things… I’m thinking, you’re more likely to encounter an odd comedy for the most part, as you walk into famous star Audrey Hepburn playing the part of this escort girl called Holly, in plain blacks and whites – never hinting at and thus hinting at the darkest of greys . Instead, she innocently asks you if you ever get the “mean reds”, and you ask her if she means “like the blues?” She corrects you  –

“The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of… well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away.The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then… then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!”

… Ah yes! Holly shelters a cat whom she refuses to name.

Who are you?

You’re in the 60s, and in New York, and you’re moving into an apartment, where you meet your odd, carefree and goofy neighbour Holly – who happens to be an escort girl . You’re perspective is reflected by the other protagonist of the film, a writer – played by George Peppard (from the original A-Team). And as the writer, I’m thinking, you’ll discover, wonder, disapprove and approve of – Holly’s character  over the course of the movie, as she creeps into his room through a fire escape – to escape rich men that she’s hustled, pleading and demanding her company at her door. Or, you’ll be drawn as he’s charmed away from his writings to peer over the same escape – to hear Hepburn by her window, enchantingly singing the movie’s Oscar winning original score ‘Moon River’ (written by Henry Mancini). Or, you’ll be bemused at the very least – as he amusedly tries keeping up with Holly’s antics at a crowded socialite party in her room.

The Story

Before you know it – the movie progresses and you’ve forgotten that this amusing character, Holly Golightly – who you may come to adore – is a few steps shy of being a prostitute; whose goal is to make it big in life by – winning expensive gifts and earning a living – by cheating men of money and position, with the promise of sex and suggestively even sleeping with some. What disarms your judgments so? I’m thinking it is the callous charm and cheerful indifference with which Hepburn portrays Holly Golightly, like a child at a game, garbed in a tailored superficial persona. Thus, in lieu of lingering on what she does,  I’m thinking, you’ll simply wonder what she’ll do next and what she’ll settle for, as she goes about her daily hustle – confidently patronizing you/the-writer with her personal philosophies like – “Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot”.

The writer isn’t a man without flaws and failings, just like us, and so I’m thinking, we’re tempted to get wide-eyed lost in Holly’s – “Huckleberry” world, where there isn’t any bad or hurt – caused or received, just an illusion of unrestricted freedom and carefreeness.

The Villain

As an interesting side character in the movie describes Holly  –“She’s a phony. But she’s a real phony…Because she honestly believes all this phony junk that she believes.” I’m thinking, what makes the simple story of Breakfast at Tiffany’s complex, is that it feels like it’s a story about these two morally questionable protagonists – grown ups, and the movie’s somehow (unintentionally) made characters only out of their inner childish-selves. Just as in a thief who robs banks, resides a boy that stole cookies, the portrayal seems to be that of the boy but played by the man.

(It’s okay if you don’t get what I mean – I’m speaking to your subconscious for when it does watch/re-watch the movie)

Unlike the writer, Holly’s character seems well aware of the dire effect of her past experiences and seems to use it to self-impose a state of guiltless childishness, hoping to charm away a better future, like the rich men she so easily hustles. And the past she seems to attempt burying by doing so, is ultimately what makes Breakfast at Tiffany’s – a true classic.

The Back Story

I’m thinking – a truly good fictional story is one with a great backstory, merely hinted at … yet interestingly managing to tug at your imagination after the story, to wonder what must have transpired to have lead unto the story being read or watched, or what happens after its end. And I’m thinking, the last thing I expected was this rare phenomenon, to strike me after watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s…

(this explains my weird self-invented prologue at the beginning of the review)

…But then again, I’m thinking women mostly don’t just up and become escort girls or “American Geishas”, and so they’re choice of profession would seem to suggest a deeper story and complex psychological justification. And that’s exactly what the writing of this story provides (kudos to Capote), a protagonist with a great backstory, which I’m thinking – suggests that beyond Holly’s glamorous dreams and careless persona, is just a little girl lost inside, who learned like a cat in the wild (like the one in her apartment she refuses to name) that – if you can’t afford freedom, you can rub up against others, so they could make like Genies and buy it for you.

Why I,Thoth think –  you should watch Breakfast At Tiffany’s

While I have none other than a cheery lass called Koumudi Malladi to thank for Breakfast at Tiffany’s (a fellow movie geek who strongly recommended this movie on our FB page), I must also thank fate. Since if I wasn’t fated for this recommendation, I’m thinking I would have passed over this true classic, due to my inexplicable lethargic inclination towards old movies.

(I really need to get to Rashomon and Seven Samurai and more Hitchcock… *sigh*… )

Speaking of fate though, I’m thinking – is it fateful that one of the most memorable movie characters of Hollywood, is called Holly Golightly? A co-incidence most likely. Yet, the fact that Holly Golightly ended up being portrayed by one of Hollywood’s most unforgettable stars – Audrey Hepburn, now that is fate. Capote wanted his friend Marilyn Monroe to play this soon-to-be famous character, which would have robbed Hepburn of her career’s “most memorable and relatable performance”.

(Yes I know Capote is played by the great – late Philip Seymour Hoffman in a movie after his namesake, which I shall now expedite on my must-watch movie list)

Digressions aside, If not for the philosophical pondering that this movie unexpectedly left me with, I’m thinking, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a movie that you can watch blindfolded and be transported to an age of cinema, where stories unfolded in a dramatic and a now cliched sound and language that wasn’t trying to convince you that it was real, but you can relate with it even so – kind of like  Holly Golightly – I’m thinking… As her character in the book puts it – “It may be normal, darling; but I’d rather be natural”





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