Making The Story "Real": Film Analysis of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"

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SWBAT analyze the representation of Peyton Farquhar's apparent escape two different mediums by viewing and thinking critically about the 1962 film of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", comparing and contrasting it to the text.

Big Idea

In 1964, Rod Sterling exposed American audiences to the film version of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Today, students make prediction and judge how the film "holds up."

Welcome & Introduction: It's Bubble Gum Day!

8 minutes

I welcome the students to Bubble Gum Day, and move on to today's Friday Favorite. This week, I'm asking for the student's opinion: which movie opening tonight should I go see? The choices are "Monuments Men", "The Lego Movie", "Vampire Academy", or just stay home and watch the Winter Olympics. Volunteers will have the opportunity to try to "sway" me to their point of view. 

As with the Daily Holidays, Friday Favorite votes serve to build a sense of community and trust within the classroom, encouraging students to share their thoughts and participate in a wide range of discussions, build on others' ideas, express their own ideas clearly (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1). In addition, the practice developing and supply evidence for their claims--even in an informal situation--should translate to students' writing as we develop more critical and evaluative pieces this semester (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1b).  

An Occurrence of Video Analysis

40 minutes

I introduce the video of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", we will be watching today, mentioning this 1962 French version of the tale was used as an episode of "The Twilight Zone". As students have already read a text and drawn their own graphic versions of the story, this film provides for a third opportunity to analyze the representation of the story in different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7). 

Before we begin watching the film, I project and share David Considine's "Critical Viewing and Critical Thinking Skills" article with students* in order to put them in the frame of mind for why we will be watching film adaptations of the texts we read this semester. As Considine says, critical viewing, "give[s students] the ability to think critically about the composition of the picture, enhancing their ability to read words and worlds." Connecting critical reading, critical viewing, and critical thinking is my primary purpose for tackling "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" in this manner. 

Students are provided with the notes and reactions sheet they will need to fill out in class, and complete for homework In this critical viewing, students are identifying the specific details that shape the apparent escape of Peyton Farquhar (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2), and compare that to the text and their comic strip interpretations. (In one class, students share three notable changes between text and film while being called on randomly; in another class, a student volunteer takes notes on the board while the class shares reactions: a student volunteer takes notes on the board while the class shares reactions)

*This article is available to reprint; follow the directions on the page for publisher's permission.  


Two Minute Warning: Wrap-Up & Reminders

2 minutes

With two minutes remaining, I direct students back to the homework from yesterday: a reading in their textbook on "Regionalism", a brief biography of Mark Twain, and a reminder of the types of literary irony: dramatic, situation, and verbal, in order to introduce our look at Twain and Kate Chopin. We will review irony and the local color elements of Regionalism in the following class. Additionally, I remind them to complete the reactions to the video for homework. In the next class, we will answer any questions on the film if needed, and carry the ideas of Realism studied today into those later authors as well, addressing how authors create a story within the bounds of the specific literary movement.