Twilight Zone: Season 4, Episode 5

Mute (31 Jan. 1963)
"The Twilight Zone" Mute (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Fantasy | Horror | Mystery
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 346 users  
Reviews: 9 user

The orphaned daughter of telepathic parents must learn to speak and deal with a world she cannot communicate in.

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Title: Mute (31 Jan 1963)

Mute (31 Jan 1963) on IMDb 6.7/10

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
Barbara Baxley ...
Cora Wheeler
...
Harry Wheeler
Irene Dailey ...
Miss Frank
...
Ilse (as Ann Jilliann)
Éva Szörényi ...
Frau Werner (as Eva Soreny)
Robert Boon ...
Holger Nielsen
Claudia Bryar ...
Frau Nielsen
Percy Helton ...
Tom Poulter
Oscar Beregi Jr. ...
Karl Werner (as Oscar Beregi)
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The orphaned daughter of telepathic parents must learn to speak and deal with a world she cannot communicate in.

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31 January 1963 (USA)  »

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(Westrex Recording System)

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1.33 : 1
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Narrator: [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 ...
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User Reviews

 
Ignorance casteth out telepathy
1 June 2011 | by (WI, USA) – See all my reviews

While watching this episode about how a young girl's remarkable gift is overlooked, misinterpreted and ultimately psychologically bullied out of her, if you'd asked me what the moral was supposed to be, I would have guessed that it had to do with how society tends to destroy anything it doesn't understand. I suppose the actual message is meant to be "love is better than psychic powers." That's as may be, but this episode failed to set the right tone to deliver such a message. Everyone might have had Ilse's best interests at heart, but I was far from convinced that their idea of what was was best for Ilse was correct, or that their actions were appropriate.

Another reviewer excuses the teacher's behavior as simply being a product of that era. I don't know how you could see this woman's actions and attitudes as anything less than sinister, particularly her line about making Ilse just like everyone else. As for Cora Wheeler, I have my doubts that she truly loved Ilse and find it plausible she saw her more as a substitute for her dead daughter. The underhanded way in which she sabotaged Ilse's chances at being reunited with people like herself did little to endear me to her, nor did the hysterical way she clung to the confused Ilse in the end, screaming about how Ilse needed her, when the case seemed to be more the other way around.

All this is not to necessarily say that I wholeheartedly approve of child rearing techniques of Ilse's biological parents, but frankly, if a line hadn't been shoehorned in at the end that explains that the Nielsens viewed Ilse as a science experiment more than a daughter, it would be harder to condemn them as parents simply because they were a tad unorthodox. When Ilse begins speaking her name out loud for the first time, it didn't register as an uplifting moment for me, like Helen Keller saying "water" in "The Miracle Worker," but rather it had the extremely uncomfortable feel of watching someone break under the strain of mental torture. What was intended as a hopeful ending instead left me feeling saddened that something special had been lost in order to force Ilse to conform to the rest of "normal" society.


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