The Two-Headed Eagle | Chicago Reader

The Two-Headed Eagle

Jean Cocteau adapted his own play for this graceful if somewhat prosaic 1948 drama, set in a 19th-century kingdom whose flag pictures an eagle with two heads. The queen (Edwige Feuillere), still grieving for her king a decade after his assassination, throws a ball in his honor but spends the evening holed up in her castle. Her brooding is interrupted by a young anarchist on a mission to kill her (Jean Marais of Beauty and the Beast); he bears an uncanny resemblance to her husband, and after conscience stays his hand she takes him captive and pressures him to help fulfill her death wish. While concentrating on their intense relationship, Cocteau conjures a few brilliant effects with his moving camera and painterly use of light; in one scene the queen appears as a giantess striding through a village street, which turns out to be a toylike set she uses as a shooting gallery. In French with subtitles. 93 min.

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