An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962)

AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE (1962)
(a.k.a. LA RIVIERE DU HIBOU)
Article #1577 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-9-2005
Posting Date: 12-6-2005
Directed by Robert Enrico
Featuring Roger Jacquet, Anne Cornaly, Anker Larsen

A Confederate spy is being hanged off of a bridge by Union soldiers during the Civil War. When the rope unexpectedly breaks, the spy makes a desperate attempt for freedom.

This short French film won an award at Cannes, as well as taking the Academy Award for Best Short Subject in the live action category. Though these are indeed great honors, this movie would have most likely faded into obscurity over time. However, fate had one more surprise in store for it. The producer for the final season of “Twilight Zone” had seen the short, and since the season for the show was running over budget, he decided to buy the television rights to the short and then showed it as an episode of the series. It was an excellent choice; not only does the mood of the short fit well with that of the series, but since there were only a handful of lines of dialogue (and these were in English), no dubbing of lines was required.

Another reason the short fit the format is that the whole movie builds up to a single final twist, and this twist is essential to the tale; without it, the story becomes merely an adventure story (exquisitely directed, but rather ordinary). The twist is what gives this one its power, impact and haunting quality. Still, the movie is only marginally genre; the only quality that makes it so is that there is something rather horrific about the twist. Still, I do find myself wondering as to whether Terry Gilliam was familiar with this story when he made BRAZIL.

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