L'Aigle à deux têtes
L'Aigle à deux têtes is a French play in three acts by Jean Cocteau, written in 1943 and first performed in 1946. It is known variously in English as The Eagle with Two Heads, The Eagle Has Two Heads, The Two-Headed Eagle, The Double-Headed Eagle, and Eagle Rampant. The title refers to the double-headed eagle of heraldry. Cocteau also directed a film of his play which appeared in 1948.
Cocteau said that he took his inspiration for the play from the separate stories of Ludwig II of Bavaria and of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Ludwig was found drowned in Lake Starnberg in Bavaria in circumstances which have never been satisfactorily explained. Elisabeth was stabbed in the heart by an assassin while out walking in Geneva. For his portrait of the Queen, Cocteau drew upon the portrait of Elisabeth given by Remy de Gourmont in his Promenades littéraires. He was also concerned to create characters which called for a grand style of acting in a tradition which he saw as being in decline in French theatre. The performances of Edwige Feuillère and Jean Marais in the first French production were an essential part of Cocteau's conception of the play.
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