Cinema Language

The most obvious difference regarding “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” between both mediums is the implementation of film techniques to imply emotions and story beats that are otherwise explicitly stated in its prose counterpart- Words are transferable to film, but employing its visual language is mutually exclusive to movies. 

The explicit exploration of Peyton’s life is absent in the film, as well as a lot of instances in which emotion is transcribed to the reader. The prose invokes words like “impatience” and “apprehension” as he awaits his fate. The episode uses slow, deliberate camera movements to manufacture a sense of foreboding, and uses cuts to contextualize the point of view of Peyton- his nervous glances and sweat-slicked face and the cuts to the environment are more than enough to get a sense of his thought process. 

The most impressive bit of filmmaking- and divergence from the source- comes at the conclusion, where the locked-down camera and surreal, suddenly synthetically manicured trees foreshadow what’s about to happen. The use of cuts as Peyton reunites with his wife dilate time in a way that written word is incapable of; The two are maneuvering through the same space repeatedly, making their collision seem almost asymptotical, like a lifetime of anticipation and memory building and then flickering out. It’s an effective translation of the story. 

The match cut is a classic cinematic tool, and employed effectively here to translate the gut punch of the final sentence. The sudden head turn and neck snap create a visual synchrony and visual coherence to the prose of the story. 

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