I finally got around to watching this fantastic short film after hearing about it for years and much urging from Sporge.
Filmed in France in 1962, the look of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (La riviere du hibou) is more akin to that of a D.W. Griffith effort. In fact, knowing nothing of the film beforehand, I was under the impression that it was the product of early American cinema. However, once the movie began, I began to notice some very strange camera techniques. The use of sound in bizarre ways completes the surreal feel of the film. Then there is the repeating theme, "Living Man", which punctuates the absurdly tragic outcome of the prisoner....wait, prisoner? Let me go back a step here...
The film is based on a story by American satirist, ex-Civil War soldier, and later, Pancho Villa's right hand man, Ambrose Bierce, in which a treasonous member of a Union regiment is set up to be hanged at the titular span. As the man falls, however, the rope breaks, and after a series of close brushes with death, he is on the road to freedom, and back into the arms of his sweetheart...or is he? To say more would be a disservice to the film's unique structure, visual tone and sound design. Truly a virtuoso work that draws as much from Griffith as it does from the French and Spanish surrealists.
Don't make the same mistake I did - watch it now - you can probably even find it online somewhere. If you can, see the original, although the Twilight Zone-edited, Rod Serling-narrated version will do just fine. You'll get more out of this film's 25 short but dreamlike minutes than you will from watching another rerun of Two and a Half Men.