An artist who followed his own source and inspiration, writer Jean Maurice Eugène Cocteau (1889–1963) was born to bourgeois parents on this day in Paris, France. At an early age, he developed a love of creativity, what he called the “fever of crimson and gold."
"It is not inspiration; it is expiration," he once said.
Expelled from school after his father's suicide, he searched for meaning in the tragedy and chose the bohemian path; creating and experimenting, his dazzling poetry revealed truths and provided a moral compass to the artists of his time.
"Beauty is made out of connections," he said, skilled in self-promotion.
Cocteau was a multi-talented artist, his expression influenced by his friendships with such contemporaries as the composer Igor Stravinsky and artist Pablo Picasso. He experimented with fantasy, mythology, and theater.
With seemingly unending creative energy, the unconventional Cocteau was a World War I Red Cross ambulance driver, photographing with realism the horror of the Battle of the Somme, recalling the images in poetry and film.
"The poet doesn't invent. He listens," he said.
In 1925, he made his first film. His Beauty and the Beast (1945) and Orpheus (1950) were considered French masterpieces. Writing and directing, he introduced surrealism to the French cinema as "a petrified fountain of thought." A means, he said, "of expressing things that I carry within me.”
After the death of his great friend Raymond Radiguet, Cocteau was inspired by the French essayist Michel de Montaigne to write The Difficulty of Being in 1947, exploring ideas about life, death, and friendship.
He said, "What the public criticizes in you, cultivate. It is you."
More Film-Making Quotations
Follow your own source.