The Twilight Zone

Season 5 Episode 22

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

Aired Unknown Feb 28, 1964 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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  • A haunting exercise in film-making from the subjective point of view of a man soon to be hanged during the American Civil War.

    Technically, however you slice it or dice it - this IS NOT A TWILIGHT ZONE EPISODE. It is a French short subject film and it's hard to understand how people could ignore the truth of its origin since it won awards for best short subject at Cannes in '62 and the Oscars in '63! It wasn't until the next year that it appeared on the Twilight Zone.

    Also its real name is not "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." That IS the title of the late 19th Century story on which it's based. The true title of this film is, "La Rivière du Hibou." I'm not being a smartypants here nitpicking about a language change. No, my grasp of French tells me the actual translation is, "The River of the Owl." One could argue that it's not such a big difference, yet distort any five word title into a six word title, retaining only one of the original words and you'll realize you're repackaging the work. When the French produced this movie, I think it's safe to assume, it never entered their minds that it would ever appear on an established American TV series.

    This all said, I do love the film. As so often happens with well-made psychological tales, black and white is the preferred format. The production has a definite French experimental feel. Yet its dearth of dialogue lends itself to being accessible by someone of any nationality.

    Even though this is an episode review, I am reluctant to go into any real depth about the story, as it holds so much more strength through its misty unfolding. Robert Enrico, the director, chose to offer a bit of storytelling where the action is solely performed by people, yet nature provides much of the sound we hear. On one level we watch and follow the actors realizing the forest, water and wildlife are very pervasive. Then upon further reflection, Enrico was probably trying to depict the opposite rationality, namely that humans are but passing figures largely irrelevant to nature on any given day. Our dreams, travails and troubles are aggrandized because of our subjective mentality, where we either think of ourselves as outside the natural world or above it. As for the quality of the film, the approach befits the subject matter. The cinematography and lighting seem to ally with the sound, making the actors seem wispy. Your attention is well kept and by the end you realize you've watched something special.

    On a personal note, I first saw this movie as a young child and really didn't think of it or cognitively remember it. Then in my junior year of high school we watched it during a literature class. I realized I had seen it before, but it must have when I was very young because it became familiar as scenes passed; my mind not recalling what would happen next. It was a sensation akin to déjà vu . It sort of heightened the eerie effect of the film. One last personal note: we watched two movies that day in high school. The other one was "The Fatal Glass of Beer" starring W. C. Fields. Now how's that for eerie?