The Midnight Sun

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Midnight Sun (disambiguation).
"The Midnight Sun"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 10
Directed by Anton Leader
Written by Rod Serling
Featured music Nathan Van Cleave
Production code 4818
Original air date November 17, 1961
Guest actors

Lois Nettleton: Norma
Betty Garde: Mrs. Bronson
Tom Reese: The Intruder
William Keene: Doctor
Jason Wingreen: Mr. Shuster
June Ellis: Mrs. Shuster

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Deaths-Head Revisited"
Next →
"Still Valley"
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"The Midnight Sun" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

Plot[edit]

The Earth's orbit has been perturbed, causing Earth to slowly fall into the sun.

A prolific artist, Norma, and her landlady, Mrs. Bronson, are the last people in their apartment building. Everyone else has either moved north where it is cooler or perished from the extremely high temperatures. Norma and Mrs. Bronson try to keep each other company as they see life as they know it erode. They watch in terror as their water supply is turned on for merely an hour a day and their electricity is considerably reduced. Food and water are scarce. As mentioned by a radio reporter, all citizens are to remain indoors and be prepared for a looter rampage. The radio reporter also states that you can "fry eggs on your sidewalk and heat up soup in the oceans".

As the temperature grows hotter the two women increasingly perspire. Mrs. Bronson's mind cannot manage the psychological pressures any longer and she beseeches Norma to paint a picture other than hot topics such as a burning city, screaming deliriously, "Don't paint the sun anymore!". Footsteps are heard from outside the apartment door. Norma asks her landlady if she locked the doors of the apartment complex. Mrs. Bronson is uncertain if she did. They hear a knock on the door, and Mrs. Bronson starts to answer it as Norma screams for her to not open the door under any circumstances. Norma threatens the mysterious man with a gun and after a few seconds he says he will leave. Unfortunately, despite Norma's warning to the contrary, Mrs. Bronson opens the door and the stranger forces his way into the apartment and drinks their supply of water. After several moments, he begs for their forgiveness and claims that he is an honest man and would never hurt them, and that he was driven to looting due to the heat. He goes on to describe the recent death of his wife due to complications of childbirth, as well of the death of their newborn child.

Feeling that her latest painting might cheer her friend, Norma displays a beautiful oil of a waterfall cascading over a lush pond, implied to be that of Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, New York (specifically in Ulysses). Mrs. Bronson, unable to cope with the unbearable conditions of the raging sun, deliriously claims that she can feel the coolness and delightfully splashes in the imaginary water before she collapses to the floor and dies. The thermometer surges past 120 °F (49 °C), and eventually shatters. As her oil paintings melt, Norma screams and also collapses.

The scene cuts to the apartment at night with snow outside the window. The same thermometer reads −10 °F (−23 °C). Norma is bedridden with a high fever and is accompanied by Mrs. Bronson and a doctor. She was only dreaming that the Earth was moving closer to the sun. In reality, the Earth is moving away from the sun and will eventually be so far away that the sun will seem to disappear. Norma tells Mrs. Bronson about her nightmare, adding, "Isn't it wonderful to have darkness, and coolness?" Mrs. Bronson replies with a sense of dread in her voice, "Yes, my dear, it's... wonderful."

Production notes[edit]

The effect of the oil paintings melting was accomplished by painting the pictures in wax on the surface of a hotplate. Moreover, the episode was shot in the summer, on a set without air-conditioning, with the director actually turning up the heat on certain key scenes to create the necessary mood and appearance for the story.[1]

Missing scenes[edit]

Serling's original script featured two characters who did not appear in the finished episode, a police officer and a refrigerator repairman.[2]

"I spent a lot of time with Buck [Houghton, Twilight Zone's producer] trying to reduce scripts, some by Rod, by one speaking part or two speaking parts because we were just about to start shooting the show and we were over budget. And Aubrey was really tough on this subject even if it were a small number of dollars." —Del Reisman quoted in Serling: The Rise And Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man

Critical response[edit]

J. Hoberman, excerpt from "America's Twilight Zone", published in Visions From the Twilight Zone by Arlen Schumer:

Whether explicitly nuclear or otherwise, the apocalypse was never far away [in the Twilight Zone]. "The Midnight Sun" was telecast on the day the U.S. consolidated its drive for "push-button warfare" with the first successful launching of a Minuteman missile from an underground silo. The episode substitutes a kink in the Earth's orbit—an analogue to what we currently call "the greenhouse effect"—for an atomic holocaust. Instead of blowing up, the planet is falling into the sun. Rape and pillage seem imminent, and even the pigment is boiling on the heroine-artist's canvases as the radio weatherman goes nuts on the air.

References[edit]

  • Sander, Gordon F.:Serling: The Rise And Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.
  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
  • 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

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone: The Midnight Sun", adapted by Mark Kneece; 2008, Walker & Company
  2. ^ "Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone: The Midnight Sun", adapted by Mark Kneece; 2008, Walker & Company

External links[edit]