CHENNAI: Audrey Hepburn was one of the most fascinating Hollywood heroines – undoubtedly in the class of bubbly Ingrid Bergman, charismatic Julie Andrews, romantic Grace Kelly, or even the reclusive Vivien Leigh.
Known for her amazing range, she played Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl in “My Fair Lady” (adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”), and Hepburn stole our hearts, while frustrating noted phonetician Prof. Henry Higgins’ (Rex Harrison) efforts to tame the wild girl.
All these and more have been compiled in a gripping documentary, “Audrey: More Than an Icon,” directed by British 26-year-old Helena Coan.
An Oscar winner for “Roman Holiday” and as known for her style statements as she was for her myriad roles, each performed with unforgettable moments, Hepburn was, behind all these popping flashbulbs and glitzy costumes, a woman of spirited grit.
With a string of tragic events behind her – the father she adored abandoned the family when she was a child – she made peace with all this and ultimately walked away from the allure of Hollywood to dedicate her last years to caring for children.
It could not have been easy to embark on a subject such as Hepburn, fiercely private that she was. But producers Nick Taussig and Annabel Wigoder along with Coan somehow managed that – with the clinching point coming after a meeting with her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer.
The interviews in the film (available on DVD and digital download formats) are seamlessly woven into Hepburn’s other talent, ballet. Trained as a dancer, she even won a scholarship to the Rambert School of Ballet in London, but her height played spoilsport.
Coan manages to give us the black along with the white in her subject’s life, and a fair balance has been maintained.
In interviews that Hepburn gave, she talks about plunging into showbiz and the joy she derived from it. But her miscarriages were heart-breaking. Her divorces were terrible, and she had a lifelong wish to have smaller feet, a smaller nose, and to be blonde.
The documentary is peppered with pulsating points and will be a revelation for a generation that may not have been exactly familiar with what Hepburn was all about. Yes, it may be somewhat hagiographical, but that is a small price to pay for the boxful of bounties.