After watching An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge and then reading it’s literary predecessor, two distinct differences were apparent I felt. The first is that the written story includes exposition as to who are main character is, that being a southern slave owner who had went to the bridge after previously discussing with a soldier on how flammable the bridge might be.
Suffice to say, a film not containing this exposition as to why the character was near the bridge in the first place will have a very different narrative and mood about it, which brings me to second difference between the two stories; time. The book is a short read while the film is over twenty minutes long. Much of the films shots are slow, steady perspectives, where the camera shots intentionally highlight small but beautiful details of the natural world. It is here where the film shines as it extends the written visual from the story and displays it in real time for the viewer. The written story touches on the sparkling of the sand grains or how beautiful the world was to a character that experienced it with exhilarated delight, and where words on a page are passed within seconds the films decides to add time to appreciate each detail.
Such an example is the moment that occurs in both stories, that being the sergeant ordering his troops to fire. While the written version only writes the sergeants commands on a single line before continuing the scene, the film adds the realistic moment of silence between sergeants words. In addition, the camera reveals more details of the scene, such as the silent stares of the soldiers lined up on the banks and the main characters look from below in the water, altogether bringing real tension to an otherwise shortly written line of dialogue.