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Ambrose Bierce - Civil War Stories (2006)

Campbell Scott , Vivian Schilling , Don Maxwell  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Campbell Scott, Vivian Schilling, Nathan Darrow
  • Directors: Don Maxwell
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Collector's Edition, Color, Director's Cut, Dolby, Full length, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Hannover House
  • DVD Release Date: November 7, 2006
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A1IMI6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,243 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ambrose Bierce - Civil War Stories" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Two poignant Civil War tales from American editorialist and short story writer Ambrose Bierce who wrote much about what he experienced firsthand. Includes An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (Roger Jacquet, Anne Cornaly. 1962/28 min.) and Parker Addison, Philosopher (Colleen Dewhurst. 1974/39 min.). Color/NR.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will Awaken You to a Major Writer March 9, 2007
This movie starts out like a high school play. I was put off by what seem obvious wigs on the actors, especially on Campbell Scott, who plays Bierce. And I was put off by everyone's stilted, stagy delivery.

But before long, the amateurishness lifted, like a curtain rising - and I found myself being absorbed in the recreations of Bierce's opinionated pessimisms, and in the dramatizations of several of his short stories. So stick with it.

The story dramatizations take their time. These vignettes aren't for people who demand action and special effects. The first story for example will make you wander in a dense fog on a long-gone Civil War battlefield for long minutes at a time, without anything really happening. But it was this very deliberateness that won me over, that put me in these characters' shoes as they try to decide where their priorities lie - in the abstractions of patriotism and honor - or in their personal relationships with people who have meant something to them. This is so often a slow, foggy, inward process of decision that the pace of the film serves the material well.

Bierce's most famous short story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," is well-done here. I don't think it's done quite as well as it was done decades ago as a Twilight Zone episode. But it is still mesmerizing, heart-wrenching.

I had known Ambrose Bierce mostly for his "Devil's Dictionary," his collection of epigrammatic, cynical definitions - and for his mysterious disappearance in Mexico almost 100 years ago. I hadn't realized he had written regular columns for William Randolph Hearst's papers, or that he had written so many moving short stories. So this movie was an eye-opener for me. It sent me back to check Bierce's collections of stories off the library shelves. Like me, you might end up being grateful to this movie for allowing you to discover, or to re-discover, an American original, an American genius.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overall November 26, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
First of all, if you're a Bierce fan, you won't tolerate a lame Hollywood version of the man. You won't be disappointed; Campbell Scott does a great job: He's obtuse and cynical--everything we expect from Bierce.

The three stories are beautifully filmed and acted. In the first segment, "One Kind of Officer," the battle scenes go on too long, but the story's payoff makes up for it. The second segment, "Story of a Conscience," is perfectly realized--the best of the three, in my opinon. The third, "Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" is, of course, the most famous story. It's well done, and it includes story details that were missing from the award-winning 1962 Enrico film. Nevertheless, it doesn't have the emotional impact that the Enrico film had. Enrico nailed the climactic moment so well, I don't think anyone could ever do it better.

I hope this film, even though it obviously had limited distribution, will inspire uninformed viewers to get into Bierce. He was such an outrageous character (no less than eight biographies have been written) that his life often overshadows his work--but that's part of the fun.

These filmed versions of Bierce's stories really stay true to his intention: to show what an utterly foolish and misguided creature is man, with war being the greatest evidence of his folly.

Plus, it's great to see Bierce hanging out with his employer / nemesis, William Randolph Hearst. Great stuff!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bitter Bierce September 15, 2006
Having been a big fan of Ambrose Bierce stories since the fabulous French version of "Owl Creek Bridge" I can't tell you how pleasantly surprised I was to attend the preview of Ambrose Bierce: Civil War Stories. It not only contains a great new rendition of "Owl Creek" but two of my other favorite stories captured on film. Campbell Scott completely and totally embodies everything I have ever studied about Bierce. Vivian Schilling and Nathan Darrow do an excellent job as Atherton and Hearst defining the period and style of post Civil War America. All in all this was a great evening combining three fabulous stories wrapped together by a dialogue between Bierce, Atherton and Hearst. This is a must see for anyone, anywhere interested in a troubled time in the United States because it clarifies Bierce's position on the War and his job with Hearst. With great acting, superb battle scenes and outstanding cinematography a great buy for Civil War historians, schools, libraries and all fans of great filmmaking.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great action, drama and surprise twists... September 5, 2006
I became a fan of the writings of Ambrose Bierce when I first saw a version of his "Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge" used as an episode of the original "TWILIGHT ZONE." Needless to say, I was waiting with great anticipation for the completion of this first-ever collection of Bierce's three most famous tales of the Civil War... all featuring his insights and surprise endings. Campbell Scott is brilliant as the "bitter Bierce" whose understandings of the politics of war seem to greatly surpass the intellectual capabilities of his contemporary goverment leaders. Vivian Schilling delivers a predictably strong turn as the saucy novelist Gertrude Atherton, and she makes a fine counterpoint to the banter between Bierce and his publisher, William Randolf Hearst (played by newcomer Nathan Darrow) during the set-up for three knock-em-dead Bierce tales. "Story of A Conscience", "One Kind Of Officer" and an all-new remake of "An Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge" make this collection of CIVIL WAR STORIES a must see for general audiences, and a must buy for collectors, schools, libraries and fans of great drama, great acting and superb battle action.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking short stories
Watching these stories made me feel like I had went back in time to the days of heroes and legends, winners and losers, joyous and sad times. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Arthurley
5.0 out of 5 stars Short Stories
Excellent short stories. These Civil War short stories (three) are great to watch and learn more about the civil war.
Published 12 months ago by Dar
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting movie
I enjoyed thes movie. It draws you in and gets all of your attention. If you enjoy stories about the Civil War you will most definetly like this.
Published on July 7, 2012 by Goldi Locks
4.0 out of 5 stars MY GRADE: B minus to B (less for non Bierce fans or non fans of The...
An homage to the American Civil War short stories of Ambrose Bierce who was a big deal back in the day though today I doubt most people know of him. Read more
Published on April 17, 2012 by MISTER SJEM
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambrose Bierce-Civil War stories.
I bought this for a friend and they enjoyed the book very much and learned how and what the men went through and how they coped with adversity and hardship in a time of crises.
Published on October 23, 2011 by karen dueling
4.0 out of 5 stars positive review
I am very interested in the American civil war. When I buy an item I want to know if this one is really a historic story. Read more
Published on January 7, 2009 by Roberfroid Francis
I don't believe that any war in which we have ever been involved was as needless and tragic is the War Between the States. Read more
Published on June 9, 2008 by R. Craig
4.0 out of 5 stars very good
bierce's works are amazing and merit further attention by hollywood. the scenes played like episodes of the twilight zone - appropriately. Read more
Published on April 2, 2008 by Robert W. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars The Curious World of Ambrose Bierce
You might wonder where writer/directors such as Ray Bradbury or M.Night Shyamalan got their interesting stories and noted end twists. Read more
Published on December 27, 2007 by All Red
4.0 out of 5 stars Finely crafted. Subtly conveys thoughts and inner conflicts.
It seems appropriate and not at all accidental that Civil War Stories should be released at a time when the realities of our current war have come home to so many of us. Read more
Published on June 1, 2007 by J.S.
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