'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

Page vs. Screen

by Devin Mainville

9 March 2012


Before average, urban, single women were dreaming of taking on life with a cosmo in hand and Manolo-clad feet, they were coveting a life of oversized sunglasses and profitable trips to the powder room. Fabulous, single icons have been few and far between, but it is without question that Holly Golightly is the icon against which all others are measured. Whether on the page or on the screen, Holly is the embodiment of the charming, elusive woman every single girl imagines herself to be. From book to film Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote, 1958 and Blake Edwards, 1961) takes a radical turn, but what’s interesting is that Holly herself (played by Audrey Hepburn in the film) is unchanged. Instead, it is the situations she faces, and the way in which her story is told, that create two wildly different stories about one very interesting woman.

Holly Golightly, in either variation, is an odd choice for an icon. She is, as her agent proclaims, “nuts”. She is delusional, insecure and yet somehow equally naïve and cunning. She has lived a tragic life that has left her a broken person, but she has managed to dress up this damage and make it aspirational. Every person who has lived has experienced some form of pain, so it is easy to understand how one could see Holly as someone to admire, but I firmly believe that if Breakfast at Tiffany’s had never ventured from the page, Holly would have been just another exceptional, but forgotten character.     

Here, book and movie rely so heavily on one another, that it is difficult to determine which is served more.

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