"The Twilight Zone" The Mirror (TV Episode 1961) Poster

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Real Reflections?
AaronCapenBanner28 October 2014
Peter Falk plays a Central American peasant revolutionary leader named Ramos Clemente, who has just overthrown a hated tyrant who abused his power, and Clemente and his associates are basking in their new power when the dictator they ousted issues them a warning that their hold on power won't last long, and that a cursed mirror will reveal all the future assassins that will threaten Clemente. This prophecy seems to be coming true, as Ramos sees his comrades plotting to kill him in the mirror, so has them killed, but are these reflections true or false? The normally excellent Falk(best known as Lt. Columbo) overacts here, and is miscast, but central point of how absolute power corrupts may unfold a bit too obviously, but episode still remains a guilty pleasure.
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Insight into fears of our parents
jcravens4223 February 2008
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.
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Enemies All Around
bkoganbing11 September 2012
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.
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It seems dated, but the concept is timeless
Shelby G. Spires24 June 2011
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.
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A Lesson on the Pitfalls of Power... and Fake Mustaches
jcruzort15 May 2013
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.
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The Story of a Tyrant
Claudio Carvalho1 May 2009
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")
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1961's "The Mirror" evokes Cold War sensitivities
chuck-reilly21 August 2009
Warning: 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.
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Not the best, though far from the worst.
The_Grubby_One11 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
As always, this episode was highly topical at the time, having obviously been heavily influenced by Castro's rise to power. The fake beards were not the best prosthetics that man has ever created, as other people have mentioned, true. However, they were far and above better than the prosthetics seen in many other episodes of this series, or even many other series at the time.

There certainly are touches of that age-old concept of "power corrupting", and as we view it now, to many it may indeed seem quite clichéd. These people fail to note one major thing, however; while such stories have been seen by us, now, in the 2010's time and time again, the Twilight Zone was among the first of its kind. At the time it was produced, it was truly a revolutionary program in so many ways, not least of which was its ability to flaunt sponsor censorship in order to put forth stories that were in many ways quite controversial. This story (and others from the show) that seems so very cliché by current standards was something very new to television at the time.

Nor is that the only (or even primary) theme of the episode. Indeed, it has always seemed to me that the primary theme was more a point that those take power by force and violence needs must forever live in fear of being victims of the same, as evidenced by Clemente's growing paranoia and ultimate fate.

It is true that Castro lived to a ripe old age, despite having risen from violence. But the fact is that he acted in a manner suggesting he knew full well that he could meet the same fate; a fear of violent revolution was what compelled him to imprison so many political opponents and clamp down so hard on the media. Serling may not have guessed his fate correctly, but he was seemingly not so very far off on the man's state of mind, or that of many other despots over the years.
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"Gentlemen, you will soon be disillusioned".
classicsoncall13 May 2010
Warning: 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.
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Not Very Imaginative
Hitchcoc24 November 2008
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.
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