Dir: Robert Enrico
Cast: Roger Jacquet, Anne Cornaly
Filmed in France in 1962, the look of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
(La riviere du hibou) is more akin to that of a D.W. Griffith effort.
In fact, knowing nothing of the film beforehand, I was under the
impression that it was the product of early American cinema. However,
once the movie began, I began to notice some very strange camera
techniques. The use of sound in bizarre ways completes the surreal feel
of the film. Then there is the repeating theme, "Living Man", which
punctuates the absurdly tragic outcome of the prisoner. But let's start from the beginning...
The film is
based on a story by American satirist, ex-Civil War soldier, and later,
Pancho Villa's right hand man, Ambrose Bierce, in which a treasonous
member of a Union regiment is set up to be hanged at the titular span.
As the man falls, however, the rope breaks, and after a series of close
brushes with death, he is on the road to freedom, and back into the arms
of his sweetheart...or is he? To say more would be a disservice to the
film's unique structure, visual tone and sound design. Truly a
virtuoso work that draws as much from Griffith as it does from the
French and Spanish surrealists.
Watch it now - you can probably even find it online
somewhere. If you can, see the original, although the Twilight Zone-edited, Rod Serling-narrated version
will do just fine. You'll get more out of this film's 25 short but
dreamlike minutes than you will from watching another rerun of Two and a