A fountain of ink


An elderly lady sits in her apartment among her bric-à-brac, reminiscing about different places she has lived. She chats with her housekeeper, and later a neighbour drops in.

A cosy enough domestic scene, but not one that would have necessarily caught the eye of posterity were it not for the fact that said lady is novelist Colette, the apartment her renowned Palais-Royal eyrie, its knickknacks her equally famous collection of glass paperweights, and the houses she describes the stations of a compelling life, familiar to readers from lyrical descriptions in her books.

This comes from a film made in 1950 by French filmmaker Yannick Bellon, who we encountered yesterday. Colette is first seen taking breakfast and – in a nimble meta touch scripted by the novelist herself – announcing her refusal to appear in the film in which she presently appears. She nonetheless goes on to describe her previous residences, beginning with her first childhood home, set amid the kind of bucolic idyll of which Colette was an unsurpassed chronicler. As Colette’s mind wanders back to these homes, so too does the camera.

Oh, and the neighbour? That’s her friend and fellow Palais-Royal resident Jean Cocteau. He banters affectionately with Colette, calling her “a fountain of ink” as he marvels at her ability to produce work while offering the impression of utter indolence.

Anyway, you can see all this for yourself, below.




  1. !!!!

    As soon as I saw the paperweights, I knew who this would be about. Can’t wait to watch!

    • “I’ve moved fourteen times- not counting my country homes.” Oh no, we wouldn’t want to count the country homes!

      Is it wrong to hope Colette Jr. wrote a “Mommy Dearest”-style memoir about growing up in those many homes? And is it wronger still to hope that someone gets a move on and conjures up a Collette biopic before Joan Plowright leaves us? Because I couldn’t stop thinking about how she resembles the aged Colette. A short film would do… “Collette Tests the Radish,” directed by Todd Haynes, co-starring Adrien Brody as Jean Cocteau and Julianne Moore as the radish. I can see it now!

      • Do it! Do it! And if we can’t get the talent Todd probably still has some leftover dolls from the Karen Carpenter movie…look, here’s Colette floating through Barbie’s Normandy Dream House in nostalgic reverie!

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