As someone who has the iconic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” movie poster framed on their bedroom wall, watching the new documentary about one of the most recognizable faces in the world was almost like required viewing.
Netflix's “Audrey: More Than An Icon” sought out to take a more in-depth look at the beloved movie star who is most known for her trailblazing sense of style. The film told her life story in chronological order, beginning with her upbringing during WWII, and ending with her tragic death from cancer. It took great care in not only discussing Hepburn’s accomplishments, but in examining her life outside of the silver screen.
Hepburn's acting career had a large impact in terms of breaking new ground with her image. Before Hepburn came into the limelight, there were essentially two mainstream images of women that were portrayed. There was the sensual bombshell like Marilyn Monroe, or the innocent girl next door like Doris Day.
Hepburn was neither. Through her iconic fashion and big movie roles, she was able to invent her own image. It was one of elegance, grace and poise.
She brought to life characters that were more complex, as they demonstrated both strength and vulnerability. This could also be said about the actress herself, which is likely why she was so widely adored.
However, despite being the beauty standard of the time, Hepburn struggled with her own insecurities. The film included an audio clip of her listing off all the things she would like to change about her appearance, concluding she would have “liked to change everything.” I thought this line was particularly powerful because it highlights the pressure that all women feel to live up to society’s impossible standards of beauty.
Despite highlighting the significance of Hepburn's fashion, the documentary stresses how she exceeds that legacy in so many ways.
This can be seen through the connection between Hepburn’s upbringing and how she carried herself in her adult life that is made quite clear in the documentary. She was brought up during WWII and her father left her at a young age, which was especially devastating to her.
The film showed how Audrey’s lack of unconditional love in her life is what motivated many of her decisions, such as stepping away from her career at the height of her fame to raise her children, and her very involved humanitarian work.
Instead of letting the trauma of her past embitter her, Hepburn chose to love as many people as she could in her life. In my opinion, that is the most inspiring aspect about her, and it was refreshing to see that as a theme the film focused on.
I recommend giving this documentary a watch because it did a good job showcasing all of Hepburn’s nuances. As most Hollywood starlets of that time, she is usually just remembered for her clothes and looks, with her own humanity usually overlooked. But Hepburn’s life had so much more meaning than that.
As the documentary’s title states, she was more than an icon.