La rivière du hibou/An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Pt 3 (Robert Enrico, 1962)
Film Studies For Free presents one of its regular features today - a little study of a (favourite) single film: La rivière du hibou, an adaptation of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", a short story by Ambrose Bierce. This short film version of Bierce's tale was directed by Robert Enrico, produced by Marcel Ichac with Paul de Roubaix, and was released in 1963. It won the award for best short subject at the 1962 Cannes film festival and 1963 Academy Awards.
In 1964 La rivière du hibou aired on U.S. television as an episode of the anthology series The Twilight Zone (hence the framing, and opening and closing narrations in the slightly shortened version -- widely available online -- embedded above).
Partly because of its brilliance and partly because its adaptation of Bierce's classic story was so widely seen, Enrico's film has been cited as an important influence on many other cinematic experiments with subjective storytelling and "twist endings", including recent ones by U.S. based directors such as Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, and David Lynch.
FSFF loves the sheer cinematographic inventiveness of this film and sincerely believes that all students of audiovisual storytelling could learn a lot from studying precisely how it works. To assist with this task (always best achieved by closely watching the film and analysing its techniques first), it has concocted a small but reasonably well-formed list of links to online and openly accessible studies of La rivière du hibou and related moving image texts.
- David Auerbach, 'Occurrences at Owl Creek Bridge', Waggish, June 16, 2007
- David Auerbach, 'Occurrences at Owl Creek Bridge: Beyond the Zeroes', Waggish, August 12, 2007
- Aviva Briefel, 'What Some Ghosts Don’t Know: Spectral Incognizance and the Horror Film', Narrative, Volume 17, Number 1, January 2009, pp. 95-108
- Jonathan Eig, 'A beautiful mind(fuck): Hollywood structures of identity', from Jump Cut, Issue 46, 2003
- Don A. Habibi, 'The Magic Moment: the Liminal, Distended Time Flashforward of Ambrose Bierce', The Ambrose Bierce Project Journal, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Fall 2005
- Don Asher Habibi, 'The experience of a lifetime: philosophical reflections on a narrative device of Ambrose Bierce', Studies in the Humanities; 12/1/2002
- Richard J. Hand, 'Reanimating Peyton Farquhar: the adaptations of Ambrose Bierce's 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" in American Radio and Television', The Ambrose Bierce Project Journal, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Fall 2005
- Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff, 'Lost Finale and the Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Parallel', Wordsushi, May 25, 2010
- Justine Smith, 'Robert Enrico’s Civil War Trilogy based on stories by Ambrose Bierce', House of Mirth and Movies, May 11, 2010
- Alanna Thain, 'Funny How Secrets Travel: David Lynch's Lost Highway', Invisible Culture, Issue 8, 2004
- Peter Wilshire, 'Dead in the Water? Dream and Reality in Carnival of Souls: the Eternal Circle of Life and Death', Offscreen Journal, April 30, 2007