Monday, July 21, 2014

Movie Review: Ambrose Bierce: Civil War Stories (2006)

Ambrose Bierce: Civil War Stories (2006)  This is a made for TV movie.  Bierce (Campbell Scott) has gone AWOL from his newspaper job with the Examiner, and is tracked down by the owner, William Randolph Hearst (Nathan Darrow) and friend, fellow author, Gertrude Atherton (Vivian Schilling).  He is compelled to read a few stories from his recent novel, and in this way there are three  of his Civil War stories presented.  First is “One Kind of Officer.”  The captain is belittled by his general, and made to acknowledge that he will follow his general’s orders specifically.  The lieutenant is part of this.  “Repel anyone who attacks your position.”  The attack takes place in the fog, and when it turns out to be another division coming to reinforce rather than attack, it doesn’t matter to the Captain.  The lieutenant asks him to stop; but he will not disobey an order.  They repel the attack with a savage artillery assault. 
The next thing, as things unwind from the battle, everyone realized they were defending against their own troops.  The commanding general confronts the captain, who says the general will vogue for his orders; but the general is dead, and the lieutenant turns on the captain because of the needless slaughter. 
“The Story of Conscience” is a story about people who happen to run into each other again.  The first is a spy, and the other is now a captain, having worked his way up from private.  As a private, he had been assigned to guard the spy, and fell asleep.  Instead of running away, the spy woke him up; very likely saving his life.  Now, as a result of their meeting again, he must do his duty, but not without paying back that original debt.   
The final story, one that I reviewed before from an older version, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”  This version adds a twist, indicating the gentleman was tricked into sabotage by a member of the Union forces.  The camera work is very good in this, in the lights being drawn out and giving a surreal feel to our escaping civilian, who has fallen into the water when he was hung.

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