Director: Robert Enrico
Writer: Robert Enrico
Cast: Roger Jacquet, Anne Cornaly, Anker Larsen, Stephane Fey, Jean-Francois Zeller, Pierre Danny, and Louis Adelin
Composer: Henri Lanoe
Air Date: 2/28/1964
Production Code: None
Captured by Union soldiers, Confederate sympathizer Peyton Farquhar (Roger Jacquet) is sentenced to death on Owl Creek Bridge. Upon hanging, Farquhar falls into the river and escapes due to a faulty rope—with a powerful twist ending.
A French adaptation of an American Civil War tale, this episode should appeal to history and fantasy buffs alike. Diehard fans of The Twilight Zone, in contrast, may wish to avoid “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” for its tonal, stylistic, and narrative differences from a typical installment of this series.
By using surreal imagery, languid pacing, flashback sequences, and slow-motion effects to depict the final tortured moments of a condemned man, director Robert Enrico compels the viewer to understand and relate with Farquhar’s emotional torment—an impressive feat considering the lack of dialogue, backstory, and traditional character development in this offering.
Despite enhancing the dreamlike quality of Farquhar’s experience, the slow progression of Enrico’s narrative will likely fail to captivate modern viewers or those with a short attention span—especially when compared to the succinct execution (no pun intended) of the original story by Ambrose Bierce.
Series enthusiasts may also struggle to enjoy this offering, the tone, direction, and performances of which seem out of place in The Twilight Zone. (Rod Serling’s narration may, however, help the audience to accept the foreign aspects of this production.)
Similar to the short story by Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” examines how people often rely on escapism, denial, and other extreme measures to avoid confronting the certainty of death. Specifically, the main character experiences a warping of time, an alternate reality, and a surge of blissful memories prior to his execution—a haunting, if extraordinary, portrayal of the mind’s inability to process and accept the inevitable nature of mortality.
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is a unique and poignant entry of The Twilight Zone. Notably, this episode deserves praise for combining historical drama, supernatural fantasy, and harrowing insight into human psychology.
Overall Quality: 7/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.