Comparing Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” (as framed by Bierce’s illuminating philosophical attitude) with the Frenchman Robert Enrico’s film adaptation (how his adaptation decisions are manifest in the film) and Rod Serling’s use of that film for an episode of The Twilight Zone (as the show’s cultural context was and is perfect for the task) reveals afresh that mood (involving an author’s attitude toward content) is necessarily more important than genre (involving content itself) when narrative content approaches the unknowable. What perhaps surprises in this comparison is that, arguably, Bierce’s short story is the least dark of the three versions of what may be called the mood and genre of sardonic death, for it only denounces (especially in terms of free will versus determinism) the doomed man, while Enrico’s film elicits sympathy and Serling’s episode empathy.

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