An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (film)
La Rivière du Hibou (French, "The Owl River"; English title: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge) is a 1962 French short film based on the American short story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1891) by Ambrose Bierce. It was directed by Robert Enrico and produced by Marcel Ichac and Paul de Roubaix with music by Henri Lanoë. It won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Awards. It was also screened on American television as an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1964.
A handbill posted on a burnt tree, dated 1862, announces that all those interfering with bridges, railroads and tunnels will be summarily executed. A condemned Civil War civilian prisoner named Peyton Farquhar (presumably found guilty of the aforesaid crime) prepares to be hanged from a rural bridge by Union soldiers. The uniformed officers and NCOs pursue the execution with stately solemnity and ceremony. A vision of his home, with wife and children, flashes before Peyton's eyes. As he is dropped, the rope breaks and Peyton drops into the water. He manages to free himself from his bonds and swim away. The soldiers attempt to shoot him in vain. Avoiding capture, Peyton descends through swift flowing rapids, runs frantically through a forest and later along an eerily linear and orderly lane, and finally arrives at the gates of his home where he sees his wife. Elated, Peyton runs toward her and she walks toward him with eyes filled with happy tears. Just as they are about to fall into each other's arms, Peyton suddenly stiffens, his head snaps back and he falls forward. The scene cuts back to Peyton hanging off the bridge. The entire escape sequence is revealed to have been a dream of seeing a glimpse of his now latest lifetime that he experienced in the seconds before his physical death.
Twilight Zone airing
|"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Robert Enrico|
|Written by||Robert Enrico, based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce|
|Original air date||February 28, 1964|
Two years after its production, the film was screened on American TV as part of the fantasy/science fiction show The Twilight Zone. Producer William Froug saw the film and decided to buy the rights to broadcast it on American television. The transaction cost The Twilight Zone $25,000 – significantly less than the average of $65,000 they expended on producing their own episodes. However, Froug’s purchase allowed for the film to be aired only twice (the first airing was on February 28, 1964). Consequently, it is not included on The Twilight Zone’s syndication package (although it is included on Image Entertainment's DVD box set of the original series and on the DVD Treasures of the Twilight Zone).
The episode's introduction is notable for Rod Serling breaking the fourth wall even more than usual, as he explains how the film was shot overseas and later picked up to air as part of The Twilight Zone. The introduction by Rod Serling is as followed:
|“||Tonight a presentation so special and unique that, for the first time in the five years we've been presenting The Twilight Zone, we're offering a film shot in France by others. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival of 1962, as well as other international awards, here is a haunting study of the incredible, from the past master of the incredible, Ambrose Bierce. Here is the French production of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."||”|
Rod Serling even provided a closing narration for this adaptation:
|“||An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge - in two forms, as it was dreamed, and as it was lived and died. This is the stuff of fantasy, the thread of imagination... the ingredients of the Twilight Zone.||”|
Marc Scott Zicree's The Twilight Zone Companion incorrectly states the French film was purchased for $10,000. This mistake has been reprinted in a number of books since the 1984 publication. The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic by Martin Grams correctly verifies the purchase price as $20,000 plus $5,000 additional costs for reediting.
According to Zicree, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge was the last episode of the classic Twilight Zone to be "produced" (presumably referencing the reediting and the addition of footage of Rod Serling, as production of the series was cancelled afterwards). It was not, however, the last episode of the series to be broadcast.
- Won first prize for Best Short Subject at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival.
- Won the 1963 Academy Award for Live Action Short Film.
- "New York Times: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
- Zicree, Marc Scott (1982). The Twilight Zone Companion. New York: Bantam. ISBN 0-553-01416-1.
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
- An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (Twilight Zone episode) at the Internet Movie Database
- La rivière du hibou (short film) at the Internet Movie Database
- An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, full film free at Liketelevision.com