Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a film that continues to inspire and dazzle audiences for generations. It’s not that big of a stretch to believe that the author behind the original novella lived an eccentric life. One of Truman Capote’s famous quotes about himself was “But I’m not a saint yet, I’m an alcoholic, I’m a drug addict, I’m homosexual. I’m a genius.” Indeed, a child from Alabama who worked his way into the literary world. Several of his works received high praise from critics, including many of his shorts stories as well as a true crime novel titled In Cold Blood.
The Capote Tapes centers around Capote’s final novel, Answered Prayers. In the trailer on the Dick Cavett Show, Capote states that he refers to it as his “posthumous novel, either I’m going to kill it or it’s going to kill me”. The film paints a picture of Capote’s final scandalous years through the recordings of his many friends and colleagues that he built relationships with, whether they were positive relationships or not.
The Guardian has this to say about Capote’s controversies surrounding Answered Prayers. “There was a cost to his social reputation as well as his literary one. As soon as the socialites and wealthy wives with whom he had mingled happily for years – including Slim Keith, Babe Paley and Gloria Vanderbilt, whom he called his “swans” – saw how casually he had spilled their most intimate secrets, those friendships were dead. Truman Capote hadn’t bitten the hand that fed him. He’d gnawed it off at the wrist.”
The trailer seems to hint at this very central issue to Capote’s writing, putting to paper what he sees, whether it is warranted or not. A talking head in the trailer for The Capote Tapes states “Truman saw everything and he remembered it, sooner or later he was going to put it down on paper.” Another talking voice follows up with “He was writing these thinly veiled stories about people he knew, and he basically told all of their secrets”.
The trailer paints promises of the life of a very open man, which is honestly shocking and brave considering he was one of the rare open homosexual celebrities of his time. Perhaps the full film will connect the dots between his personal life and how it affected not only his writing but his career and friendships.
Ebs Burough, former White House Deputy Social Secretary and Senior Advisor to Michelle Obama, directs the film. A long time fan of the author’s work, he was introduced to Capote at the age of 12. In an interview with The Guardian he states. “The southern gothic voice was immediately recognisable,” he says, “because I grew up in northern Florida, near south Georgia, all oak trees and plantations and Spanish moss.” He devoured everything Capote wrote (“Though the canon’s not huge, let’s be honest”). He can even watch the sanitised 1961 film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s without fast-forwarding through the scenes of Mickey Rooney playing Asian. “It’s so fucked up and yet we can’t pretend it didn’t exist. We need to be able to say, ‘Look how far we’ve come.'”
Whether you are a longtime fan of Capote’s work, or just a beginner, The Capote Tapes seems to promise a story of scandal and intimacy. The story of a man nearing the end of his life, telling the stories that he witnessed and experienced. The film premiered in 2019 at the Toronto International Film Festival, currently it holds a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and will finally make its theatrical debut on September 10th, 2021.