Two divergent cinematic readings of enslavement in ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’

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Ambrose Bierce’s Civil War story ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ was adapted in 1959 as a television episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and in 1962 as Robert Enrico’s French film La Rivière du hibou, which was presented as an episode of The Twilight Zone in turn. Although the common reading of this story aligns it with the author’s other ‘antiwar’ narratives, African American enslavement comes to the fore in both these audio-visual adaptations, but with opposite connotations. Examining their digression in narrative and stylistic directions illustrates the dichotomies of motion-picture aesthetics: low vs. high art, mainstream vs. avant-garde, escapism vs. social critique – and demonstrates the cultural possibility for these contrasting approaches to register concurrently as popular media products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-48
Number of pages14
JournalShort Film Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

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