Would someone help me evaluate/analyze the short film An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The only filmed version (that I know of) is the French short film La Riviere du hibou (aka "Owl River" and "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge--the original French-to-English title was misspelled). The film was later bought by the American TV series, The Twilight Zone, and it received its first airing on American TV in 1964 (with the corrected spelling of "Occurrence"). The original French production (1962) won the 1963 Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. It also won first prize at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival for Best Short Subject. The film was directed by Robert Enrico and starred the French actor Robert Jacquet as Peyton Farquhar.

The 28 minute film is fairly faithful to the original short story written by Ambrose Bierce. It is shot in black-and-white and, as in the short story, the dialogue is virtually non-existent. There is no voice-over narrative, and there are but some verbal commands spoken by the soldiers on the bridge; a few verbal shrieks, groans and laughter by Farquhar; a song with English lyrics; and plenty of drums, gunshots and cannon fire; otherwise, it is virtually a silent film with only a few sounds of nature, such as the river flowing. Most of the film shows Farquhar's escapes--from the noose, the soldiers shooting at him as he flows downriver, and a cannonade after he reaches shore. The rest of the story shows him trying to make it back to his home and the arms of his wife and children. As I recall (I haven't seen the movie in several years), the second section when Farquhar meets the Union spy is skipped completely. The ending is quite appropriate to the original short story, with a solid surprise for the unsuspecting viewer.


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