Soldiers march a condemned man through a rural area to a bridge high above a stream. While a boy plays a drum, one soldier puts a noose around the prisoner's neck and stand him on the ...
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A montage of the skyscrapers of Manhattan opens with a succession of stationary views of the upper portions of numerous buildings. This is followed by a wide variety of fluid shots, which ... See full summary »
A spiral design spins dizzily. It's replaced by a spinning disk. These two continue in perfect alternation until the end: a spiral design, a disk. Each disk is labelled and can be read as ... See full summary »
It's midnight in a graveyard. The principal characters are spooks, ghosts, bats, bells, and, at the end, the sun. As midnight strikes, 12 spooks appear, then two ghosts. They move to the ... See full summary »
A pulsing, kaleidoscope of images set to an energetic soundtrack. A young women swings in a garden; a woman's face smiles. The rest is spinning cylinders, pistons, gears and turbines, ... See full summary »
Kiki of Montparnasse,
An isolated house in deserted area is too remote for a servant, who leaves a note, quietly exits the back door, and puts the key under the mat. Alone in the house is a mother and her infant... See full summary »
Abstract animation illustrates Edwin Gerschefski's modernist composition. Two dots - one blue and one orange - appear most often, sometimes large, sometimes small, sometimes overlapping. ... See full summary »
A recently unearthed experimental documentary of the crashing sea set to Mendelssohn's "Fingal's Cave." An example of the filmmakers' "new cinema" theory which held that film should be more... See full summary »
In a prelude, among a sea of hands, two find each other, a female and a male. She reaches toward him. In the next part, "The Individual," the two hands move expressively, then the male hand... See full summary »
In 1626, Dutch traders bought Manhattan for $24 of beads and gift product. Within 30 years, there were 1,000 residents, and 300 years later, there were 8 million. This film celebrates the ... See full summary »
Thomas Bailey Aldrich's poem is dramatized in triptych. In the center panel, a young man muses on the seashore where mermaids beckon, then he walks through the woods, accompanied by ... See full summary »
Soldiers march a condemned man through a rural area to a bridge high above a stream. While a boy plays a drum, one soldier puts a noose around the prisoner's neck and stand him on the bridge's parapet. He thinks of his wife and children, then falls. The rope breaks from his weight, and he stays under water until he's beneath some reeds on the surface. The soldiers fire at him and pursue, but he's able to leave the stream and run for his life. The sunshine, being alive, and thoughts of his wife and children propel him forward. Will he make it?Written by
Impossible not to compare this film-version of Ambrose Bierce's An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge with the classic French version of 1962 La Rivière du hibou by Robert Enrico, which is one of those eternally famous films that almost everyone will get to see at some time in their life.
I first saw it myself in the cinema sometime in the sixties in Britain where it was occasionally shown as a highly superior B-feature ans was bowled over by it although, as one rarely paid attention to the details of a B-feature, I had no idea for many years who had made it. I had exactly the same experience with The Duel (arguably Steven Spielberg's best film), which I saw in exactly the same way. There is nothing to compare with that cinematic experience of a B-feature that makes you sit up and watch - a bit like Ravi Shankar at Monterey - an experience that, alas, hardly anyone has the opportunity to have any more.
It was however a highly-praised short (winning an award at Cannes as well as the Academy award for best fiction short) and it was twice shown on US television as an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and later as one of the last episodes of the Twilight Zone. Unlike myself, those who saw it then would have known that it was French because they are told so in the introduction to it.
It was in fact the second of three adaptations that Enrico made of Bierce's war stories, the other two being Chickamauga and the third being L'oiseau moqueur (The Mockingbird). All three are excellent and represent a quite remarkable feat of empathy of the part of Enrico. La Rivière du hibou is deservedly the best known but not so much better that the other two films deserve their almost complete oblivion. Together entitled Au cur de la vie, they form a fine homage to Bierce's bitter critique of war (and religious hypocrisy).
So how does this 1929 film stand up to comparison. Well, not at all badly. It is a good deal shorter and the updating to a First World War setting means that it lacks the period feel that is so strong in the Enrico trilogy. Nor does Vidor have Enrico's magical ability with forest-scenes, including a fine use of sound, which he would also display in his best known feature-film, Les Grandes gueules (1965) shot in the Vosges. The "escape" is a good deal less dramatic and, since the fantasy element in the escape is less well concealed, the impact of the ending much reduced but the essentials of the story are all there, the main performance good and the camera-work at times excellent.
This film is never going to join the Enrico as one of the all-time "must-see" films but it s reminder that there is not the yawning gap people often imagine between film-making in the twenties and film-making the sixties.
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