Sunday, 18 January 2009

Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote & Audrey Hepburn by Barry Paris

I came to Breakfast at Tiffany's in the strangest way. In my first year at University another (male) student living on the floor below me, the most fitting description I can muster up being a short, consistently stoned DJ who claimed he'd dated Sophie Dahl. He gave me a copy of Breakfast at Tiffany's on Video and told me I should treat it as a blueprint on how every woman should live her life. Now, I don't know whether it was intended as a put-down or as a joke but it has led me to places I never expected and for that, I thank him.

So firstly the film, as this was where I arrived at first - directed by Blake Edwards, starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, with Mickey Rooney in a cameo role - it's probably best known for it's iconic images of Hepburn and for the Mancini classic, 'Moon River'. It is a beautiful piece of cinema developing the audiences relationship with New York alongside the development of the two central characters. Who doesn't want to stand outside Tiffany wearing their sunglasses and gazing through the window? One of my favourite scenes is where the pair go shoplifting (which I could never do) and wear the animal masks which take away their ability to convey anything to the camera through their faces. Hepburn is, as ever, immensely expressive in every way - even in such an instance. The film has a classic Hollywood ending, all swirling strings and kissing in the rain as the credits roll.

Recently I read the novella by Truman Capote, originally published in 1958 - it's interesting how the perspective of the narrator is so intensely focused in Capote's writing, yet the film is so much more from Holly's perspective - and follows her all the time. It's brilliantly written, but much darker than the film. The ending of the novella is more open, we don't really know what becomes of Holly and it seems that this was a frustration that Hollywood Executives couldn't cope with. The thing that surprised me really was that bar the actual characters and a few incidents, how incredibly different the storyline was to the way it is presented in the film.

My admiration for Audrey Hepburn herself was piqued when I was given Barry Paris' biography of her and discovered so much that I think it is easy to miss about an actor. It's so important to see the performance for what it is on screen, but also to consider how every part of the actor goes into making their performances richer and more complex, Hepburn truly lived and Paris provides a real window into her world, and although I'm not really a great biography reader, this really caught my interest. Paris discusses how Capote had originally wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly and I can see how in the novella, she is so much more 'Marilyn', but for the screen version - Hepburn created a role so iconic and so impeccably delivered that it will live on in our culture forever.

Maybe the best part of this original 'gift' was the fact that I am so far removed as an adult woman from Holly Golightly's character that we are polar opposites - she's like an alter-ego, she does the things I wish I could do if no one could ever find out. She is pure fiction and pure fantasy, an escape. Maybe that's why the short, consistently stoned DJ who claimed he'd dated Sophie Dahl liked her so much?

I don't care - I like her too.


Kohl in unsteady steady hand.
Leaning forwards towards me and
rolling her eyes towards the ceiling
goes about the business of concealing
who she really is inside,
and makes a real effort to hide.
I lie - and her,
she applies more eyeliner,
in a Quantesque gothic glam-rock hybrid
sweeping across her half closed lid
with a Winehouseish swish,
She shuts her eyes and makes a wish.

The Mirror

Monday, 5 January 2009

Twelfth Night - Or - What You Will...

As tonight is Twelfth Night, we have been rather reluctantly taking down our Christmas decorations, and looking anew at the blank page before us... My eyes alighted on one particular decoration and my thoughts inevitably, considering the news today and yesterday, turned to this.

I have been reading quite widely of late, having almost finished my reading for the Lit Flicks Challenge and although I haven't yet blogged about most of these books, the reviews are on their way. I am hoping to be blogging more this year as I am resolving to spend an hour a day working on something creative, outside of my work life. This may well result in posts which aren't only about the books I have been reading, but I am interested to see in what direction this will develop.

I have mentioned to my friends and family as part of my resolution that I am intending to start writing more this year and as a result I have now got a workspace of my own, within my flat.

Almost everything in this space has been generously given to me by one or another of my friends and family for which, as ever, I am extremely grateful and send them all my very best thoughts and wishes for the New Year. Since as Maria in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night so rightly asserts 'Thought is free' - and tonight I believe is a good time to be thoughtful and an even better time to be thankful.