The film adaptation of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” offers the audience a lot less detail than the short story written by Ambrose Bierce. In the video, there is a lot less information about the main character, his background, and what led to his ultimate demise. There were also a few scenes, like the ticking of his watch, that felt a little bit more random in the video version. This particular event felt much more powerful in the written story.
“Striking through the thought of his dear ones was sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith’s hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or nearby— it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each new stroke with impatience and—he knew not why—apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer; the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.”
While the film does a good job of telling the important parts of the story and maintaining the concept of going back and forth between reality and imagination, the text version does a much better job of explaining what being on the brink of death and death itself feels like. I had never read a story before that detailed this kind of experience in such a compelling way. Even though I preferred the written version, I think the video did an excellent job using pacing and editing to build the story. Toward the end, when the wife is running up to her husband in slow motion, you can tell that something is wrong, and everything is not the way it seems. I think one of the best examples of shot composition from the video is when it showed Peyton’s body hanging under the bridge from a great distance away.
It did a great job of paralleling the ending of the written story which is simply, “Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.”