Mute (The Twilight Zone)

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The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 5
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Written by Richard Matheson
Featured music Fred Steiner
Production code 4858
Original air date January 31, 1963
Guest appearance(s)

Ann Jillian: Ilse Nielsen
Claudia Bryar: Frau Nielsen
Robert Boon: Holger Nielsen
Frank Overton: Harry Wheeler
Barbara Baxley: Cora Wheeler
Irene Dailey: Miss Frank
Oscar Beregi, Jr.: Professor Karl Werner
Percy Helton: Tom Poulter
Éva Szörényi: Frau Maria Werner
(credited as Eva Soreny)
William Challee: Man
Bill Erwin: Man In Flashback
Norbert Schiller: Man

Episode chronology
← Previous
"He's Alive"
Next →
"Death Ship"
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"Mute" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It was written by Richard Matheson, based on his own short story of the same name.

Opening narration[edit]


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.

Closing narration[edit]


  • 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

External links[edit]