There were several differences between the short story and the short film, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” One of the first big differences I noticed was the appearance of Peyton Farquhar himself. In the book he’s said to have
“a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, wore a mustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers;”
It also states in the short story Peyton is also said to have been apart of a well known southern Alabama family who were slave owners. We don’t get this background info in the short film but we do get a glimpse of Peyton arguing with his parents about him serving his country, whereas his parents thought they would be “sending their first born off to die.”
In the short film we never get to really see this intimidating appearance or any of his family ties. I believe this may have been altered for the short film because they may have wanted the audience to sympathize with the main character more. This may no have happened if Peyton were to look this way. In both the short film and the short story though, Peyton’s character is still built up to be a hero who just wants to return home to his family.
Another difference we see between the two is that in the short film there is much less dialogue between Peyton, his wife and the visiting soldier who sends him on this mission. In the short story it says
“One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands.”
This scene never actually occurs in the short film. Instead we do get some dialogue between the soldiers were Peyton is receiving Intel on his mission. I thought this scene was different from the book but special in it’s own way because it portrayed all of the emotion and risk that Peyton was facing by placing his wife behind him in the scene. Her head is down and you can tell she also doesn’t want him to take this job because she would also like to see him safe. Peyton still accepts the job and gets a very quick farewell in the short film compared to the long departure in the evening he gets in the short story.
Some other difference between the two I seen were that there were spectators that watched the hanging in the short story compared to there being no spectators in the film. I think this was simply cut out because it wasn’t of much importance to the directed because he still gets his point across without the spectators. Another was the ending, where as you read about Peyton being hung first.
“As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened—ages later, it seemed to him—by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation.”
Peyton then has a sudden realization of wanting to get back home while he’s being hung. In the film, Peyton has the realization and at the end it’s a plot twist that shows him crawling through the driveway of his house to his wife but he doesn’t make it because in reality he is dead. I think this could’ve been altered in the film to build more suspense.