Mute (The Twilight Zone)
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Stuart Rosenberg|
|Written by||Richard Matheson|
|Featured music||Fred Steiner|
|Original air date||January 31, 1963|
Mr. Serling's Opening Narration
|“||What you're witnessing is the curtain-raiser to a most extraordinary play; to wit, the signing of a pact, the commencement of a project. The play itself will be performed almost entirely offstage. The final scenes are to be enacted a decade hence and with a different cast. The main character of these final scenes is Ilse, the daughter of Professor and Mrs. Nielsen, age two. At the moment she lies sleeping in her crib, unaware of the singular drama in which she is to be involved. Ten years from this moment, Ilse Nielsen is to know the desolating terror of living simultaneously in the world and in the Twilight Zone.||”|
Ilse, a twelve-year-old girl, is orphaned when her parents die in a fire. She is left in the care of others unaware of her true condition. It seems that her parents raised her in ignorance, and did not even teach her to talk. In actuality, Ilse was raised (along with other children in far-away Europe) by parents who subjected her to a language deprivation experiment in which no one spoke (verbally) with her. The intent was to draw out inherent telepathic abilities that the parents believed all people once possessed, but which had been repressed after the development of spoken language.
The experiment with Ilse was particularly successful: Ilse communicated well telepathically. But after the death of her parents, Ilse lives in a world of people who speak with voices instead of their minds, and her life is turned upside down. Her teacher also possesses telepathic abilities but believes they are a corruption to be overcome and works vehemently to destroy them.
By the time she is found by a couple from Austria who also raised their child as part of the experiment, Ilse's telepathic capability has been ruined by her public school experience and the genuine love of her normal, adoptive parents. Ilse also wants to stay.
It is stated at the end that Ilse's natural parents, while being kind to her, had not truly loved her but viewed her primarily as a living experiment.
Mr. Serling's Closing Narration
|“||It has been noted in a book of proven wisdom that perfect love casteth out fear. While it's unlikely that this observation was meant to include that specific fear which follows the loss of extrasensory perception, the principle remains, as always, beautifully intact. Case in point, that of Ilse Nielsen, former resident of the Twilight Zone.||”|
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0