Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I have a confession to make. I've probably seen the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany's fifty times; I've never read the book. Of Truman Capote's small oeuvre I've only read In Cold Blood, which I would recommend to anyone who isn't too squeamish. But Breakfast at Tiffany's--I believe I once picked it up in the bookstore, read the first page, checked the price, and put it back down again.

As you no doubt know, the title of this blog was inspired by a small exchange in the film, which probably occurs in the book as well but obviously I don't know, when Paul and Holly are spending their one really romantic day together. It's one of my favorite stretches of film, ever. I love the bouncy walking-in-New-York music as they go around doing things they've never done, the sort of silly way they interact together. Though there are times when I wonder what it would have been like if Marilyn Monroe had played Holly, as Capote originally conceived, I rarely wonder how it would play out in the pages of the book. I suppose it's been hammered into my memory as it is, and there it will stay. I fear that if I read the book, I wouldn't be able to think of the movie the same way.

I know I'm a bit of an odd duck when it comes to my opinion of books that are made into films. I like to watch the movies first, and then if they don't leave me any questions, I read the books. I've never read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the novel, because I love the movie so much. I had to read the play version for a class once, and I'll admit after a while I started to skim. The movie, for me, holds its own. On the other hand, I have read all of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games books, starting each series after seeing one of the movies. These stories rely so heavily on the creation of worlds that I would have felt a little in the dark only having seen the movies. But as for Breakfast at Tiffany's, I feel the story is complete.

Maybe Paul Varjak is a different person in the novel. Holly, too. I'm sure there's a lot of character development to be had from reading the book, things I'm only guessing at through the actors' performances. Of course, the novel is short, so maybe not. And if I were to buy the book or at least check it out from the library, it would come with three other stories if I got the original version. But do I really want to muddy one of my favorite rainy-day movies with a lot of new information? I don't know. There are so many complicated things in life; maybe some should be allowed to be simple.

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