Monday, January 27, 2020

WAR SHORT: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962)

The film is 28 minutes long and was featured on the classic "Twilight Zone" series.  It is a French film based on the famous short story by Ambrose Bierce.  It follows the story very closely.  It received the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Short Film.   Very appropriate because the film is creepy.  It is set in the Civil War and opens with a military order posted on a tree warning civilians that any sabotage of railroad bridges, tunnels, or trains will result in execution.  A well-dressed Southerner is about to be hanged from a bridge for violating that order.  As the noose is tightened, he dreams of his family.  What happens next is a miracle.  Seemingly. 

 The director was Robert Enrico and he has a distinctive style. The movie is mesmerizing. There is no dialogue and in fact, there are no sounds. The first half is covered by funereal music which shifts to bizarre midway through. But it’s the cinematography that stands out. Enrico uses everything in a cinematographer’s bag of tricks. There are long shots, close-ups, even some POV. There is some amazing underwater camera work. It is a clinic on cinematography. There are long tracking shots as the man runs home. During this scene, the tint of the movie changes.  It is a must see for war movie lovers, fans of film, and lovers of literature.



  1. Ah, yes, I remember this short. As you say, it does a great job of building and maintaining a feeling of suspense, anxiety, and uncertainty. It is a good match for an Ambrose Bierce's Civil War story. This is one of those films that seems to work better in black and white, and as such seems particularly timeless.

    I wholeheartedly echo your recommendation.

    1. Thanks. You make a good point about black and white.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Please fell free to comment. I would love to hear what you think and will respond.