Directed by Blake Edwards in 1961, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a masterpiece American film based on Truman Capote; a best selling novel that incorporates drama in classic romantic comedy just like the film. This classic film highlights the theme of women independence after World War II, search for personal identity and quest for personal freedom.
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Blake employs cinematic symbols to underscore the themes of the film. The cat character symbolizes Holly Golightly in her quest to achieve freedom while her empty house typifies her destitute self and personality. On the other hand, Golightly’s dialogue and character represents the pursuit of women independence. The three symbols achieve Blake’s agenda so perfectly that they make the film worth watching.
Breakfast at Tiffany exposits the story of a lovely but naïve young girl called Holly Golightly as she unravels the mystery of her identity. Holly undergoes a tumultuous childhood pushing her to marry at the tender age of fourteen. Unfortunately, the marriage does not last for she runs away from it before her search for freedom takes her to New York City where perhaps she thinks she can experience some form of freedom away from the pressures of marriage and the haunting ghosts of unstable childhood.
Unfortunately, within no time, she becomes lonely and penniless. Therefore, to meet her needs, she starts seeing moneyed men coupled with delivering coded messages to a mafia ringleader who is serving a jail term in prison, all in the name of earning a living. As time goes on, Holly meets Paul, her new neighbor and they become friends at the first sight.
At this point, the film director takes the audience into lengths of exploring Paul and Holly’s relationships divulging Paul’s struggles in his writing career coupled with his bearing lack of confidence. On the other hand, Holly’s short and unsatisfying relationships come into light as Paul falls for her slowly by slowly.
Before Paul can make his feelings known, Holly falls for Jose, a Brazilian tycoon whom she decides to marry for provision only. In fact, Holly is ready to accompany Jose to Brazil. Unfortunately, before her plans can materialize, she is arrested for dealing with the mafia ringleader, prompting Jose to change his mind concerning his hitherto plans to marry her. As the movie closes, Paul addresses Holly briefly about life lessons before she discovers herself and things that make her happy in life.
As aforementioned, search for freedom is one of the themes explored in this movie. Holly escapes from her marriage and hometown and moves to New York hoping to be free far from any commitments and relationships. In her mind, freedom is the absence of any commitments where one can do as he/she pleases.
The nameless cat used in the film stands for Holly. Namelessness typifies lack of ownership explaining why Holly deserts her husband, therefore; she carries no ownership tag with her. The fact that Holly does not take care for her cat symbolizes her lack and fear of commitments. It suffices to conclude that Holly sees commitments as freedom barriers. Moreover, the fact that she does not name her cat shows her desire to remain unattached to anyone or anything because that is what defines freedom to her.
The quest for personal identity is another bearing theme in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The fear of being ‘self’ comes out clearly, as the movie unwraps. In most cases, people get lost in doing so many things that they forget their roles in what they do unless they have a landmark to remind them of their initial roles.
Holly’s empty and disorganized apartment underscores her loss of self-identity leading to her current situation. However, Tiffany’s store is the constant reminder of who she is and finding of her lost cat as the movie closes typifies how she finally rediscovers her real identity.
Finally, the theme of women independence arises given the time setting of the film. Women of the pre-war epoch passed only for housewives. However, after World War II, women started to claim their place as equal partners in society and nation building. Holly’s desire to live freely from submissiveness that society demands shows women’s pursuit of independence.
Women realized they could lead their lives the way they wanted without men’s dictates. Holly stands conspicuously in this theme as she breaks away from her marriage and heads for the city for a free life where she can support herself. She calls herself ‘wild’, a clear indication of how free and independent she is; she does not need a husband to live.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s explores pertinent issues as, pursuit of women independence coupled with quest for personal identity and charisma. It passes for one of the most amazing classic movies that I have ever watched for unlike other classic films, it involves and moves the audience largely.
I really liked the acting of Audrey Hepburn; actually, she qualifies as my best actor in the film. In my opinion, she fits so well into the shoes of Holly that the audience feels it. However, I did not like Holly’s cryptic career; I cannot tell whether she is a whore or just a liar who gets what she needs when she needs it.