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In many cases the original idea of a novella is lost when the written story is adopted into a film. Truman Capote's masterful novel Breakfast at Tiffany's is a perfect example of a novel whose original idea was lost when its story was taken to the screen. This fact notwithstanding it is sobering to admit as early as now that both the movie and the novel are very interesting. One of their greatest points of departure is the point of view. In addition, aspects of art to realize theme, dialogue and characterization have become other significant sources of differences playing between the novel and the film Breakfast at Tiffany's.
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While Capote wrote this enthralling story from the first person point of view the movie diverges from this and adopts an objective third person's view. In addition, Edward Blake completely deconstructs the tone and mood Capote's novel. Capote's narration in the novel takes up the first person limited view where the story unfolds to the reader through the eyes of Fred who the readers take as an upcoming writer. Fred tells how life was in the old New York through the use of the present time. He starts of by telling how he realizes that his long lost friend Holly Golightly, who was thought dead, is still alive. After learning Holly is alive, Fred ponders about his long past with Holly, who was then a self-sufficient late teenage woman, and the adventure they went through. Capote writes, "It never occurred to me in those days to write about, and probably it would not now except for a conversation I had with Joe Bell that set the whole memory of her all again,".
The film and novel differ in terms of art. It is the quality of art that ultimately impacts on the themes of a novel or film. Capote's novel addressed themes of restlessness fear and determination while the movie's shots depict a contradictory approach to art. The film directors made a number of shots, like the first bedroom scene, which are very captivating in terms of composition and theme. These shots depict the disturbing divergence from capote's initial themes and art in the novel. While art has become a very fluid notion over the years, the mode of decoration adopted by the filmmakers was not the classical touch of art that Capote describes in the novel. In reality, capote never intended to please film producers or audiences when writing the story but the excessive use of color and décor inherent in the film totally affected the themes of fear, determination and restlessness that Capote explores in the novel.
In addition to the differences of theme, Edward Blake left out a few characters that were originally in the novel while taking and playing up others. In the movie, Holly Golightly and Paul Varjack are presented as self-motivated characters. While the movie philosophizes numerous aspects of Golightly's character, Capote only philosophized her own persona as is evident from words of Fred, the writer's mouth piece. Capote regards Golightly as a woman of great self will and able to fit any setting. However in the film Holly Golightly is painted as a woman who is generally drinking to parties and breaking numerous male hearts. The movie considers her as one without feelings and no past.
While Capote painted her as one who could be married, as Fred say "I think she is married and quieted down and maybe still in this city," (Capote, 5), Blake creates her as one who can not belong to anybody or anything. Surprisingly these philosophical musings have only been transcribed into only two scenes in Blake's rearrangements. Hepburn, Blake's cast for Holly Golightly, portrayed the hero as overtly naïve and eccentric woman unlike the self motivated and determined woman that Capote paints in the film, (Hepburn, 34). While Capote wrote to her in order to congratulate her for playing role well, this aspect adds to the differences that play between the film and the novel.
Other case of characterization differences was the films blatant portrayal of racism as a major theme that Capote considered as a backdrop to the larger them of female sexual representation. While the film's casting of Mickey Rooney was seen as exotic and flavored by New York Times, later reviews have painted the novel as overly racist and based on stereotypes. Other reviews have termed the film portrayal of Mr. Yuniosh as a horrible and out place impersonation of an Asian citizen of the highest order played by a gibberish actor over done with makeup.
There are other serious issues to rise in line with characterization between the film and the novel. In the book, the hero's sexual orientation remains and ambiguous topic and the language more straight forward compared to the movie. When Holly tells Fred what she likes doing with 'mean reds' Capote writes. "What I've found does the most good is just to get in a taxi and go to Tiffany's. It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany's, then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name, (Capote, 28)."
This dialogue becomes one of the most altered parts of Capote's dialogues by Blake to fit into a more commercial taste of the movie. Blake was forced to change parts of the novels dialogues in order to please producers and film studios which ultimately culminated in the high sales of the movie. The starring Audrey Hepburn admits this claim by noting that the idea was to do the film in a 20th century touch that no other icon would have done it.
To this, the matter of costuming is replayed to reveal the need by producers of the film to depict the woman of this period who was seen as a symbol of beauty adorned with beautiful dresses around good music. Again the sentimentalization of prostitution in the film is a problem considering the mild sensation that Capote gave in the novel though many readers will agree that sexual liberation has become one of the recent intoxications of the modern New York and other major cities of the world.
All in all both the film and the novel, Breakfast at Tiffany's, are packed with appealing action and drive the intended themes home. The film is packed with excellent dialogues and historic scenes that keep an audience glued to the end. The film does capture Capotes' vision created in writing when Holly is singing the song 'Moon River' during here fire escape: indeed, the filmmakers chose a perfect song that would agree with Hepburn's narrow vocal tract. The film and novel agree thematically in that while whether Holly and Paul make it together remains a matter of discourse, the main issue is whether the two can forgive each other and live happily.