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|Index||14 reviews in total|
This is one of those episodes that you really have to think about the time in which it was shown in order to appreciate why it was relevant. The scene presented was reminiscent to its audience of more than just Cuba -- this was an era of frequent "revolutions" and military-style commanders: Castro, the Perons, Pinochet... but with a change of clothes and accents, this could become Burma or the Middle East or somewhere in Eastern Europe or Africa today, and maybe that consideration will help others appreciate this episode. The only problem I had with the story was the ending, which I didn't understand and didn't feel that it "fit" with the character. This episode is no more "preachy" than any of the Twilight Zone, and if such bothers you, it's not really a series you will ever appreciate, let alone enjoy.
When the peasant Ramos Clemente (Peter Falk) leads a successful
revolution in his undefined country, the former dictator General De
Cruz (Will Kuluva) advises that his mirror is magic and can anticipate
who will murder him. Clement becomes paranoid and kills each one of his
revolutionary comrades believing that they want to murder him.
"The Mirror" is a predictable episode based on the paranoid behavior of a man unprepared to lead a nation. The despicable analogy to the charismatic leader Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution is not a subtle, but a direct message; but the story of the corruption of the absolute power of a tyrant is reasonable. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "O Espelho" ("The Mirror")
There's no suspense. It's another one of those stories where the absolute power corrupts. Castro (or whomever) is given a chance to correct the evils of his predecessor. Of course, he betrays everyone. He has a magic mirror that shows people betraying him and he strikes out at them. It turns out that the mirror is a means to an end that was already there. He is paranoid from day one and begins to insulate himself immediately. He is harsh and a pure jerk within minutes of taking power. The sad thing is that the episode is so doggone dull that it goes nowhere and has no insights for us. One of Serling's weakest outings. Peter Falk is OK but he has nothing to work with.
It's the adage of "absolute power corrupts absolutely" that Twilight Zone writer/creator Rod Serling was going for with this episode. It may seem dated because it is about Cuban leader Fidel Castro, but the concept never dies. Seemingly good men take power from bad men. Paranoia, greed, blood lust creep in, and then good men do bad things. Castro was courted, briefly, by the United States after he took power. This episode was produced just a few weeks after the failed US backed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. So, it was a mirror of its time. This same morality tale seems to play out over and over and over again. Whether it be a power hungry manager or a nation's leader. Only thing is, these days people come to respect those knee jerk decisions and paranoid moves to eliminate competitors. Seems these types never learn, somewhere, sometime that another will just push 'em down the stairs or out into traffic. And the cycle starts anew ... the point of "The Mirror" Great work, as generally was the case with Serling's Twilight Zone episodes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's been said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That theme is at the center of this Twilight Zone episode, as an unnamed Central American country undergoes a revolutionary change of power, and it's new leader immediately becomes fearful of threats to his legitimacy. It's a severely condensed version of Hitler's fall from dictatorship, though most will see it as Serling's take on Castro's Cuban revolution. Either way, the story exposes every dictator's reliance on an impoverished economy and promises for a future filled with social justice to carry them to victory. What they always fail to tell their followers is that they intend to live it up on the backs of the workers, maintaining power through working class reliance on 'cheap taste and short memory'. History is littered with examples, and one would expect that society and nations learn from the past mistakes of their predecessors. Instead it seems, history is continuously doomed to repeat itself, with only the names and faces changing, and each passing generation facing even higher stakes for the survival of mankind.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The 1961 entry "The Mirror" was obviously inspired by real-life figure
Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. Writer and creator Rod Serling
was a fervent anti-communist and equally despised authoritarian rulers.
In this story, a newly-installed military dictator named Ramos Clemente
in a fictitious Latin America country is played by an over-the-top
Peter Falk. To say that Clemente is a little power-hungry would be an
understatement. Upon his ruthless ascendancy, he is introduced to a
very strange mirror by the outgoing general (a cynical Will Kuluva) who
guarantees that its reflections can expose Clemente's enemies merely by
standing in front of it. Soon, Clemente is spotting spies and
counter-revolutionaries by the dozens and he begins ordering non-stop
executions to satisfy his thirst for power. In no time at all, Clemente
runs out of allies and becomes the victim of his own delusional and
maniacal behavior. It all sounds interesting but the story is presented
with little room for any real tension and General Clemente's quick
demise is a bit too obvious from the start.
Directed by TV veteran Don Medford and written by Serling, "The Mirror" evokes a heaping dose of Cold War hysteria but isn't up to the usual high standards of this classic series. Falk does his best to fit the image and mentality of a Latin American dictator but chews up far too much scenery in the process. Kuluva is fine as his predecessor who's on his way to the firing squad. Old time actor Vladimir Sokoloff does a good job as a Catholic priest who witnesses Clemente's final desperate moments. All in all, it's still an interesting piece for viewers who would like to re-examine the historical content of the early 1960s. Back in those days, Fidel Castro and his ilk were considered real bogeymen.
As a story, this episode doesn't seem to go anywhere. It's predictable
and the Castro comparisons and Sterling's prediction of his demise did
not age as well as Castro himself, who showed us that dictators indeed
can hold onto power for a very long time.
As a Latino, the dirty make-up, fake beards, and crappy accents are hard to overlook. But the mirror that shows one's would-be assassins and feeds the paranoia of the powerful is a great science fiction concept, one that--in my opinion--saves this episode.
In short, this is not Sterling's best, but I like that he appears to be using current events to spice up these episodes. At the time, audiences probably really enjoyed this condemnation of Castro (that reinforced all of their stereotypes about Latino politics). In our time, we can appreciate it as a reflection of the fears of the past, fears that turned out to be well-founded.
Of all the actors that I wish could have been in a better episode there
can be none more so than Peter Falk. He makes this dud episode
watchable. Ramos Clementi (Falk) leads a successful revolution against
a dictator who warns him that he will see the faces of his assassins in
a magic mirror. Absolute power corrupts of course and brings with it
paranoia and tyranny.
Predictability is the worst aspect of this story. Some of the dialogue is fairly good and the character of Ramos mentally disintegrates in stages, sometimes questioning and understanding what is happening to him.
The obviousness of Ramos Clementi being Fidel Castro is spelled out in neon lights. Serling says that any resemblance to real tyrants 'is hardly coincidental'. The beards and military uniforms also spell out Castro too. Much less predictable than the plot was the Cuban's longevity as leader.
Not the worst TZ, but let's remember Rod Serling and Peter Falk for the many better things each did.
Peter Falk in this episode of the Twilight Zone showed another facet of
his talent in playing a Castro like new dictator of an unnamed South
American country. The fatigues and beard that Falk wore made him rather
unmistakable. Castro is quite a bit taller though.
In any event Falk has led a peasant revolt and he's newly arrived in power and now in the presidential palace he's hearing the ever present sound of firing squad. Sending for his predecessor Will Kulava he wants to do a bit of gloating. Instead Kulava goes bravely to his demise, but not before willing to Falk the mirror in his presidential office which he says will reveal your enemies, real and potential before they strike.
The mirror does show some interesting things to Falk, but as this is the Twilight Zone is it real or is Falk's conscience playing tricks on him.
We never really know, but that's the beauty of this Twilight Zone episode. Very Edgar Allan Poe like, a tell tale heart or a tell tale mirror.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** In what's obvious a lame attempt by Rod Slerling to
discredit the 1956-1959 Castro Peasant Revolution in Cuba the Twilight
Zone episode "The Mirror" has this Fidel Castro wannabe Ramos Clemente,
Peter Falk, and his band of scuzzy unkempt and unshaven followers
taking over a Central American country in a popular peasant revolution.
That's after a bloody year long guerrilla war against it's also very
obvious western installed dictator Gen.De Cruz, Will Kuluva.
Drunk with victory together with about a dozen bottles of wine he gulped down Clemente has De Cruz brought before him to both psychically and mentally torture and abuse the poor and defenseless man. It's an unafraid De Cruz who puts the thought into the deranged Clemente's head about a mirror in the presidential palace that predicts, by closely looking in it, who among his loyal followers are secretly planning to knock the madman off when he isn't looking.
It's after Gen. De Cruze is dispatched via a firing squad that Clemente with his bloodshot eyes starts to look deep into the mirror to see if what the now departed De Cruz told him is in fact true! Sure enough Clemente sees the very persons who put him into power are in fact planning to knock him off when the chance presents itself to them. In no time at all the by now totally mashuga, nuts in Yiddish, Clemente ends up murdering the loyal comrades whom without them he can't both run and control the country that they help him take over!
***SPOILERS*** It's the local priest Father Tomas, Vladimir Sokolff, who finally put Clemente straight in trying to get the by now totally out of control Communist dictator to stop the wholesale executions that he ordered thats going on non stop in the country. Father Tomas telling Clemente how evil and out of touch with reality his crazed actions are has him finally see the light through a bullet hole through his thick skull that Clemente, in him finally realizing just how crazy he is, mercifully inflicted on himself!
P.S If that only would have happened to Fidel! Think of all the trouble money and embarrassment it would have have saved us over the years in trying to take him out!
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