It was in 1977-78, I guess that the University of Kerala conducted a film festival at the Tagore Theater in Thpuram. Those were the days when the Hollywood genre held sway over young like I and in equal competitive measure with the Amitabh Bachan flicks. But there was much de ja vu about the retrospective that the University Students core was organizing.
There were a few Hollywood classics like the “Roman Holidays” and the marvels of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. But mostly the festival was of films that were till then unheard of-films from the Eastern Europe, besides classics of French directors. The one that stood out in memory all these years is a poignant film in black and white , that in fact help germinate a dislike and abhorrence to the punitive punishment with death. Later the same film was screened by the Surya film society in their festivals.
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, was a French film from the early sixties. It was adapted from the short story of by Ambrose Bierece. Set in the times during the American Civil war, the film captures the lust of human mind for life.
A Civil war prisoner, a civilian and an alleged spy is to be hanged at the Owl Creek Bridge.
It recounts the illusion the poor man has as he precariously stood on the edge of the bridge with the noose around his neck. He is to be dropped down from the bridge. The rope breaks as he is dropped down and he finds himself breathless and struggling in the icy waters down.
He senses a superhuman strength as he breaks free from the rope that bound his hands and legs. He swims fast and gets carried downstream by the swift current. The soldiers fire at him when they sense that he broke free. Evading capture he is washed on the bank downstream from where he takes to heels running frantically towards his home. The wild, fatigued and desperate run is through the woods and thickets. He is drained and his feet are with blisters. His clothes torn and tattered, wearied he reaches his home desperately wanting to see his wife and child. As he sees his wife walk towards him with smile, surprise and open arms, he runs towards her. As he is about to take her in his arms he senses a pang...... .The shot we see then is the cut to the incident at the Owl Creek Bridge......
His great escape was .......
I saw this film again yesterday, from Torrent. Perhaps you would like to watch this short film (of about 15 minutes) in the link here The print is not good but the poignancy of the shots is never fading.