Blu-ray
Recommended
4 stars
Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
3.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Street Date:
September 20th, 2011
Reviewed by:
Nate Boss
Review Date: 1
September 8th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
1961
Studio:
Paramount
Length:
115 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Do you remember Deep Blue Something? Well, apparently Audrey Hepburn's performance in 'Roman Holiday' inspired the band to write a song about relationships, only they used the title of another Hepburn film, 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' as it had a better ring to it. Anyways, they were one hit wonders, but the song still receives some steady radio play, as it's a nice, catchy, upbeat little tune. Every time it plays it's a great reminder to go check out the film and revisit what may very well be Hepburn's most memorable role.

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' is an endearing romantic comedy, now celebrating its fiftieth year in existence, though it hardly feels half that old, save for the obvious extreme baby face of its star. It's saccharine sweet, yet often reminds us of the sour moments that come along from time to time, an interesting character-driven feature based on the novella by Truman Capote. Every genre staple is present, save for the predictability that ruins the potential enjoyment of many a film of this ilk. A true classic in every sense of the word, 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' is hilarious in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, while at the same time a quirky look at attachment, love, romance, and all things sappy.

The lead character, Hepburn's Holly Golightly, is a sort of enigma. She has the tendencies of a call girl, only without the sleaze. She's a gold digger looking to marry into wealth rather than work for it, who can't save a dime due to her inherent need to buy expensive jewelry, to present herself like a million bucks, hopefully to someone whose bank account is north of that amount. A social butterfly who borders on codependence, she's afraid of being tied down, and may not exactly be the world's best neighbor. A tease, a flirt, a possible phony, she's a woman with skeletons aplenty in her closet (or powder room), representing the refined single woman years ahead of her time, the unattainable goal.

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' is a film without a real structure, free from some nagging plot necessity or contrivance. It's storytelling simplicity, covering the dealings between Holly and her new upsatirs neighbor (George Peppard), a writer who is instantly smitten with the free spirit, who is very much like her, an ambiguous prostitute of sorts, only his work gets published. From the opening scenes, where the strangers meet in the most peculiar (and endearing) of fashions, 'Tiffany's' moves forward at an ever-increasing pace, acting as the perfect anti-romance romance. It's a tale of opposites attracting, with the structured, polished life of the writer upstairs being somewhat thrown to the winds of change that represent Holly, whose home is very fitting as a temporary domicile, no matter how long she's been there, replete with an unnamed animal for those lonely, lonely nights.

What makes this flick so memorable goes beyond the amazing performance from the ageless beauty. Sure, that's the hook for the film nowadays, but this is a great look at life and love, about fear and hope, ideals versus realities. The constant conflict and personality clash between the two leads is the perfect catalyst for the "plot." We see a man who thinks he knows best for a young woman who would instantly disregard any advice given to her, no matter how precise in analysis it may be. We find out she's made her mistakes in the past that have crafted who and what she is, and we get to peek under her carefully constructed mask, to see her inner beauty and ugliness, as her layered character and the exploration thereof is obviously the focal point of this tale.

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' is a rare cinematic feat. It's a romantic comedy that doesn't age, and may even get better with time. It contains genuine drama and believable characters, the byproduct of their respective environments, a mix of two different worlds melting together into one, whether both like it or not. It's a film where the male romantic lead doesn't inspire the urge to want to punch him in the throat. A film where the romantic gestures are the ones that cost the least, where the interactions are genuine and natural, the lived-in characters coming alive in that all-too familiar way. It's genius both in performance and in writing. Iconic, memorable, wonderful.

The Disc: Vital Stats

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' arrives on Blu-ray in time to still count as being released on its 50th anniversary, on a single BD50 disc with no apparent region markings. There is not a single annoying pre-menu anything, while the menu itself is a thing of class, a static shot with the iconic score repeating almost seamlessly. First pressings (at the very least) will include a slipcover, in the traditional, slightly short height Paramount keeps pushing. It looks rather classy, though.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

While watching 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' for this review, I couldn't help but think of one thing: why wasn't this a "Sapphire Series" title? It's one of Paramount's most prestigious, well known, beloved titles, and it won two Academy Awards (even if they weren't for Best Picture or Director). Also, this Blu-ray release got the treatment synonymous with that failed label, so it would have been fitting. Basically, I'm not all that impressed with this Blu-ray release. Paramount's 1080p encode for the film is littered with issues that didn't have to be.

The story of this release is DNR. It's pretty easy to spot here. Grain itself only froze a few times early on, but the tell is the ridiculous smoothness of the picture at times, like the moments where fingernails don't even seem to exist, replaced by fleshy, borderline meathook appendages. Textures are very hit or miss due to this, as it isn't just a fine application, so sometimes a jacket will look beautiful in its pattern and stitching, and other times the same article of clothing will look like there's nary a discernible thread on it. Noise is an issue early, but it becomes less bothersome as the film goes on, and the same can be said about a few errant uses of Edge Enhancement.

It's a shame, too. 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' has a lot going for it here. There's not any real dirt or scratching to be seen, no print damage, no wobbling. Colors are bold (though there's a slight neon/bleed to a few short moments of extremely strong, bright color, like the red rose in the jacket lapel in the early goings), warm and inviting, while flesh tones aren't all that bad, sometimes a little flush but mostly believable. Black levels are utterly perfect, while picture depth is regularly impressive. A real short, few frame blip can be seen at the 46:27 mark, as a face makes an odd shift, but I'd say that issue is at fault with the materials used for this release, not the encode itself or the wonderful DNR.

I didn't know what to expect going into this release, visually speaking, so the fact that so much has been done to wipe what could have been a very powerful, natural picture is disappointing. Holly Golightly might say it best, with her wonderfully irreverent Portuguese, when she states she believes someone is in league with the butcher. Because this is just short of being butchered.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

There are two audio options for 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' in the native English language (dubs are available, as well): a restored mono track, or the disc's default, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Mind you, this isn't some bizarrely matrixed film, as the rear channels only come into play for the Mancini score elements, and bass is unheard of. It's just a slightly more modernized feel to a classic film, spreading the amazing music in the room the way it should be heard. Can't say enough good words about the way the score makes the film feel like a classic Disney animation at times. It's...wonderful.

Fans will be happy to hear this disc does a very solid job with presenting a natural listening experience, free from any sore thumb moments. There's fantastic clarity in the score, with amazing distinction between instruments, and a great mix ensures that we always are capable of hearing this intricacy and beauty. Naturally the film itself is front heavy, but dialogue only has one or two odd lines that don't fit in with their respective scenes (due to odd volume jumps and brief drops in sharpness), with solid dynamics, and some nice separation here and there. I noticed a few minor bits of static, but they were very few and far between. What concerned me more was the fact that the music doesn't always creep to each channel like I would have expected. Still, not much to complain about here. A solid track.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

A split of high def and low def features define this supplement package. There's nothing new, as everything here was found in the Centennial release a few years back. A funny mix, with the HD extras providing much more focussed coverage, and the older SD features being much more broad.

  • Audio Commentary - With Richard Shepherd. This is not a fun listen. Shepherd blurbs up in the credits saying he'll discuss people later, and frequently just describes what is on screen, not behind it. At times, he seems afraid to talk over the film, as the gaps usually time out that way. He gives witty observations, like how typewriters are outdated (oh that zany Shepherd!), talks up some powder room action, and generally makes less-than-wry comments at random, with no rhyme or reason. One won't miss a thing if they skip this track. I'd actually recommend it.
  • A Golightly Gathering (HD, 20 min) - A reminiscence of the cocktail party in the film, with a few actors who were in the scene. It's funny how minor parts get their chance to talk about the experience so long ago. A fun retrospective, which is very unique.
  • Henry Mancini: More than Music (HD, 21 min) - A look at the man behind the music of the film, a legendary man in the business, told through those who knew him. Fantastic. That's a good word for this one. The title of this feature tells the tale, as it starts on music, but then goes on as those close to him talk about his quirks and eccentricities. Fantastic.
  • Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective (HD, 17 min) - Controversy! This character remains an arguing point even to this day due to the modern political correctness movement, to the point that some activists protest the film's showing in public areas. Is it racist? A number of Asian activists discuss the entire issue rationally, with logic rather than emotion. Also, yellowface. Never heard that one before. It's an odd piece, as it doesn't touch too long on 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' but damn is it a good one.
  • The Making of a Classic (SD, 16 min) - A more classic look at the film, as a whole, compared to all of the other extras, which are so insignificant in scope, no matter how interesting they may be.
  • It's So Audrey! A Style Icon (SD, 8 min) - We really needed a feature about Audrey, considering her fame and prominence, and remembrance primarily in this role, so here it is! Yep, this woman sure was gorgeous, and a style icon, indeed. She made anything look good.
  • Behind the Gates: The Tour (SD, 4 min) - A tour of Paramount Pictures, mostly through pictures. An interesting piece, though it's mostly fluff.
  • Brilliance in a Blue Box (SD, 6 min) - A feature about the jewelery of Tiffany & Co., including a famous, one-time world's largest canary diamond, as well as the evolution of the accessories.
  • Audrey's Letter to Tiffany (SD, 2 min) - Audrey Hepburn's words to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Tiffany & Co back in 1987.
  • Galleries - Three galleries, covering the film, production, and publicity assets. I really liked the publicity section, as the modeling shots are fantastic, evoking that different age in cinema, so long forgotten. Sadly, there are no random posters or half sheets or other adverts.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 min) - A very olde timey trailer for the film. It definitely looks beat up.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives.

Final Thoughts

You know what Blu-ray needs? More Audrey Hepburn. There just aren't enough films starring the ageless beauty and amazing acting talent on this format, with this release marking just the second title in her filmography to make the leap. Thankfully, we're two for two in terms of titles that are among her best, the unforgettable or iconic films or roles. This adaptation of a Truman Capote story is a superb crafting of character development and analysis, a believable, enrapturing story of love and its many complications. It stirs controversy these days due to Mickey Rooney's performance, but I wouldn't change a damn thing in this movie. Paramount could have done a better job on the video for this disc, while the audio may be the best it will ever be. This is a must own film, but I'm just not a fan of the way it has been tampered with visually.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 1.0

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Supplements

  • Commentary by producer Richard Shepherd
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Featurettes
  • Photo Galleries: The Movie, Production, Publicity

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