Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of the most famous and provocative movies in American cinematography during the 1960s. This work attracts much attention at different epochs due to its possibility to introduce several really iconic characters, prove the influence of fashion in society, and identify the inequalities that can determine human lives in a variety of ways. There are many controversies in the movie beginning from its title (Tiffany’s is not the place for breakfast) and ending with the portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi.
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The work of Blake Edwards, the director of the film, as well as the actors like Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, and Mikey Rooney, provoke multiple feelings and attitudes to the style of life, people’s choices, and the creation of relationships. In this paper, Breakfast at Tiffany’s will be reviewed as a movie of contrasts with a unique connection between the settings, camera movements, characters’ development, historical events, and gender-racial judgments.
The movie was released at the beginning of the 1960s. It was the time when America was involved in the civil rights movements, antiwar protests, and political dissensions (Harris 34). People had to face serious gender issues and the necessity to include female expectations into regular social relationships. Five nominations for Academy Awards and an impressive list of other nominations and victories like Golden Globe, Grammy Awards, and Writers Guild can be used as the main evidence that Breakfast at Tiffany’s made certain contributions to the growth of American cinematography and the discussion of the issues that mattered during the time of its production.
Edwards created a romantic comedy through the lines of which serious topics like racism, betrayal, and greed are disclosed. However, the presence of such great actors like Hepburn and Peppard was not enough to promote the success of this type of movie.
Cinematographic techniques and the director’s decisions like an objective viewpoint at Tiffany’s in the opening scene of the movie cannot be ignored. It tells about the influence of fashion and money on people promotes human possibility to do nothing but accept the truth and stay small and insignificant in the shadow of such giants as Tiffany’s. Eye-level shots can be used to explain the worth of human relationships and the intentions of the director to promote social equality and fair attitudes.
Many people call this movie controversial because of a number of discussions and disagreements. For example, despite her intentions to find out satisfaction and stability in her life, the main character, Holly, first rejects Paul and his feelings, saying that “we belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other” (Breakfast at Tiffany’s). At the same time, Holly has a purpose and can build plans, believing that “I could find a real-life place that’s make me feel like Tiffany’s, then – then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name” (Breakfast at Tiffany’s).
Another example of controversy consists of symbols when Holy tries to avoid any kind of sage and dependence on other people and demonstrate her “free spirit” without even knowing that she is “already in that cage” that she built for herself (Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Holly hates and scares zoos where she can see animals in cages, and she cannot even guess that she is a part of that zoo, and it is high time to break the rules and start changing something.
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Controversies of the movie can also be traced in its racial tensions and gender inequalities. At the time of the production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the United States survived the outcomes of World War II and the Vietnamese War that had a negative impact on the relationships between African-Americans, Asians, and Americans (Chow). The decision to give the role of Yunioshi to white Rooney caused many problems and critical responses.
His offensive caricatures of the Asians seemed to be funny to many people except those of Asian descent. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a comedy, and Rooney’s role in it is impressive through yellowface makeup, huge glasses, and terrible teeth. If these scenes can be considered racially offensive today, they were rather entertaining in the 1960s. However, “it’s what everybody always thinks but everybody happens to be wrong” (Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Edwards regretted this decision with time, but the history had already been made, and nothing could be changed.
What the director never regretted was the choice of a woman for a leading role. Hepburn represented the image of a woman during the 1960s in one of the most provocative and interesting ways. The mass in her room, unpredictable moods, and the attitudes to the people around prove unclear and constantly changing female expectations and doubts. Being a leading character, Holly always depends on the events and people. She wants to achieve stability and happiness, but she constantly chooses a wrong or too complicated way.
In the end, love wins, and feelings help the characters to find out the truth. Instead of richness and stability, Holly chooses a kiss in the rain, proving again that female expectations may rapidly change. Her life disorder, extreme ups, and painful downs do not give Holly a serious lesson, but she is never upset and ready to try a new stage of relationships with a cat having a name and a man holding her hand.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Directed by Blake Edwards, performances by Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, and Patricia Neal, Paramount Pictures, 1961.
Chow, Keith. “Why Won’t Hollywood Cast Asian Actors?” The New York Times. 2016. Web.
Harris, Frederick C. “The Next Civil Rights Movement?” Dissent, vol. 62, no. 3, 2015, 34-40.