Recently I was contacted to do a review and host a giveaway for a documentary and book about Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn was an icon for me in high school, I had multiple posters of her in my room, watched her films religiously, and had several biographies on her. So, of course I leapt at the chance to learn more about her and share that with you all.
When we think of Audrey Hepburn, we instantly think actress, style icon, but she was more than that. Just how they title implies, Audrey: More than an Icon dives into Hepburn’s traumatic childhood, rocky marriages, and incredible humanitarian efforts.
Beautifully styled, Audrey: More than an Icon uses a combination of archive footage, interviews of Hepburn herself, contemporary interviews, as well as dance sequences representing moments of Hepburn’s life, as Hepburn’s original career goal was to be a ballet dancer. Those interviewed includes Clemence Boulouque, the author of a French biography of Hepburn, as well as Hepburn’s son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, her granddaughter, Emma Kathleen Hepburn Ferrer, and many family friends.
Unlike other documentaries about movie stars, there is not a play-by-play of her filmography. When it comes to her films, there is a focus on the ones that elevated her, such as Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the films that impacted her in other ways, including her moments of dance in Funny Face, and the criticism and dubbing of her singing voice in My Fair Lady. Running through the film is Hepburn’s search for love and approval, a result of her Fascist father abandoning her at age six. Hepburn sought love in two failed marriages, and then chose to devote herself to her two sons, more or less abandoning her film career at its height in the late 1960s. At the end of her second marriage in the early 1980s she found Robert Wolders, who finally gave her the security of love she so desperately wanted. With Wolders, Hepburn attended a benefit in 1989, there, speaking of her traumatic childhood under Nazi occupied Holland, she entered a new chapter in her life, becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. Here she turned her trauma into love, seeking to end child hunger in developing countries, a mission she carried on with until her passing in January of 1993.
I don’t want to sit here and repeat the entire documentary to you, but I do want to focus on the moments that not only stood out to me, but I think are vital, especially now. The film takes its time to explore the horrors of Hepburn’s childhood. As mentioned earlier, her father abandoned her when she was only six, leaving for England where he joined the British Fascist group Black Shirts. Despite being sent to Kent for school, and her father being given visitation rights, the two never saw each other until she became an adult and sought him out. When World War II broke out, her mother feared England being a target, and had Hepburn return to Holland, only for it to become occupied by the Nazis. Using interviews with Hepburn you hear her recall her uncles taken, including one being killed, by the Nazis. As the occupation progressed, Hepburn and her family endured the Dutch Famine, and she became involved in the resistance, carrying messages inside her shoes, and entertaining troops through dance and other performances. Hepburn’s life came full circle when she became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, traveling the world to draw attention to children suffering from the same hunger she did as a child. It was noted that she took the role very seriously, always studying the situation before arriving, and campaigning hard for donations when she returned. Something Hepburn said that stuck with me was
Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicization of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanization of politics.”
I think that is something many of us can make a goal of, especially right now.
Overall I found the film to be a respectful, but honest look at Hepburn’s life and career, showcasing her fragility, vulnerability, and passion. There wasn’t a desire to shock the audience in a sleazy or tabloid kind of way, which is what happens so often with documentaries about celebrities. Because of this aspect, and the in-depth look at her life before and after the silver screen, I recommend this for anyone who has the slightest interest in Hepburn.
With the focus on Hepburn’s humanitarian efforts, I realized the best way we can be like Audrey isn’t just to emulate her style, but to emulate her compassion. You can learn more about UNICEF, including making a donation on their website.
Watch the trailer for Audrey: More than an Icon below:
I was also invited to review Little Audrey’s Daydream, a children’s book written by Hepburn’s son, and daughter-in-law, Sean and Karin Hepburn Ferrer.
Told from Hepburn’s point of view during World War II and Nazi occupation it gives a fanciful, child’s view on her life, describing her situation during the war, and she then slips into a daydream of performing, including the roles she would go on to play, raising two boys, Switzerland where she would later live, and traveling the world to help children.
While the book does not discuss the reason for the war or occupation, it still gently shows the horrors of war, describing bombings, and lack of food. The story plays into the importance of imagination, especially during dark times. The illustrations are simple, yet playful and detailed. I particularly liked the page where she plays dress up and she is illustrated in all sorts of outfits, including a well-dressed gentleman with a mustache, a sailor, a chef, and royalty. Illustrated by Dominique Cobasson and Francois Avril, it was Cobasson’s last work, who, before illustrating children’s books, did work for Chanel, Hermes, and Tiffany.
The final pages of the book provide a brief, but more detailed biography of Hepburn, as well as more info about the authors and illustrators.
Now, I did mention a giveaway! So, if you want to get you hands on a Blu-ray copy of Audrey: More than an Icon and the book Little Audrey’s Daydream, just read the rules below!
Be a US resident. Due to disc restrictions, this giveaway is only open to US residents.
Comment below with your favorite Audrey Hepburn movie. Mine is Charade, but I also love Wait Until Dark. Please note if you have never commented before your comment will have to be approved so it will not immediately show up.
Enter just once, please!
Cross your fingers!
The giveaway will end Tuesday, January 19, at 11:59 pm, and a winner will be randomly selected and announced Wednesday, January 20. Can’t wait until then, or don’t want to take your chances and just want to get your hands on a copy now? Audrey: More than an Icon is available on disc through Amazon, as well as video-on-demand through Amazon and iTunes. Little Audrey’s Daydream is also available on Amazon, as well as Bookshop and Powell’s.
This giveaway is now CLOSED. Thank you to all who entered!
Disclaimer: I was approached by Shine House Group, and gifted two copies of the film Audrey: More than an Icon, and the book, Little Audrey’s Daydream, one set to keep and review, and another to giveaway. Additionally, this post contains Amazon affiliate links.