It had many notable stars as well.
It is incredible how two movies can bebased off the same book, yet both movies take very different approaches atinterpreting it. This all really boils down to perspective. One director’svision differed from the other’s, which in turn produced two different moviesabout the same topic: the writing of InCold Blood by Truman Capote. Thetwo movies, Infamous and Capote, both had some pretty famous casts.Infamous, directed by DouglasMcgrath, starred such big names as Toby Jones–known for his roles in theCaptain America, Hunger Games, and Harry Potter series–as Truman Capote, DanielCraig–known for his role as James Bond in some of the more recent James Bondinstallments–as Perry Smith, and Sandra Bullock–known for her role as RyanStone in Gravity–as Harper Lee. Capote,directed by Bennett Miller, had many notable stars as well. Philip SeymourHoffman–known for his role in the Hunger Games series–played Truman Capote, andClifton Collins Jr.
played Perry Smith. Itwas very interesting to see how these two entirely different films were producedroughly around the same story. What some people might not know is that bothmovies were actually based on Truman Capote biographies. Capotewas based on a biography by Gerald Clarke, and Infamous was based on oneby George Plimpton. Despite those being two different books, the overallstory remains very much the same, mostly because it was based on true events. Itstarted with Truman Capote being fascinated by an article about a family thatwas murdered in Holcomb, Kansas, so he decided to go out there to write anarticle about it. After a long, excruciating investigation, he decides thatinstead of an article, he’ll write the very first “non-fiction novel”. To writesaid novel, Capote got access to the two murderers in prison.
He becomes closewith them, and is especially drawn to Perry, whom he finds resembles himself insome ways. Even thought he became so close with the two, Capote knew thatthe book’s ending would only work if they were executed for their crime, andthat tears him apart over the course of writing the book. This series of eventswas the underlying plot for each of the films, but each director had their ownway of going about it. Therewas a stark contrast between the two movies that makes the differing visions ofthe directors very apparent.
Capotejust carries more of an air of realism. It comes closer to portraying theevents that actually happened duringthe writing of In Cold Blood, whereasInfamous tends to dramatize thestory, exploring Capote’s homosexuality and romanticizing his relationship withPerry Smith. For example, “thefirst half of Infamous attempts todraw humor from Capote’s flamboyant persona” (Peters). When compared to Capote, “Infamous is lighter andflashier. Toby Jones is a more flamboyant, less subtle Capote who isportrayed as a huge gossip among the high society women of New York”(Peters). Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s rendition of Capote is more subdued, focusedmore on his work than on anything else. He is shown as manipulative, doingwhatever it takes to complete his book, at one point saying “Sometimeswhen I think of how good my book is going to be, I can’t breathe” (Peters).
That is where the maindifference between the two films lies. Aside from theperformances, another way the two films differed was in their visual appearnce.Each film did a very good job at having an appearance that matched its tone.
Capote, being more serious, had lesssaturated colors and more advanced camera techniques and angles designed toportray a lot of drama. Techniques such as rack focus were used many times toget the audience to focus on one particular thing, whether it be a character, asymbolic element, or something else. Infamous used more saturated colors tomake it seem busier, to mimic Capote’s persona in the movie. It also used somewide shots to show how social Capote was, as a wide shot can encompass manypeople.
Even though Capote was abetter film, both films’ cinematography matched the overall tone of the film. Capotealways seems to be the go-to Capote biopic, being nominated for five Oscarsand having Philip Seymour Hoffman being named best actor for his performance. Infamous, on the other hand, was justnever as well received, with the movie itself receiving no nominations and theactors only being nominated for awards overseas. It is not obvious at first, butthere is a reason that Infamousdoesn’t center around the writing of InCold Blood. It is to appeal to a wider audience. Not everyone is interestedin hardcore documentaries, so appealing to a wider audience would mean that,logically, the film should make more money. Unfortunately, that was not thecase. One could say that it was to differ the two films so Infamous wouldn’tlook like it was copying Capote, but that is simply not the case, because Capote and Infamous were both ready at about the same time, but Capote came out slightly before Infamous.
McGrath didn’t want tooversaturate people with Capote films, so he intentionally held off onreleasing Infamous, so as to “giveaudiences a breather” (Peters). This was actually a smart idea because now,McGrath could analyze where Capotedid well and where it did not, and only release it in the places where it didwell to waste as little money as possible. It was to no avail, however, becauseCapote still did much better than Infamous, with Capote bringing in 42.2 million dollars in profit, and Infamous actually losing around 10.4 million dollars (Wikipedia).
In summary, “Capoteis more serious and reserved, much like the performance of Philip SeymourHoffman” (Miller). When you compare the two films back-to-back, Iit almostmakes Toby Jones’s performance seem irritating. Itreally is amazing how two movies can be based off the same book, yet bothmovies come out so differently. One director’s vision differed from theother’s, which in turn produced two different movies about the same topic: thewriting of In Cold Blood by TrumanCapote. One director wanted something more dramatic, the other wanted somethingmore entertaining. It all came down to perspective.