Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: The Twilight Zone: The Midnight Sun

The Twilight Zone: the Midnight Sun, adapted from Rod Serling's original script by Mark Kneece
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadows, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone. 
The Twilight Zone is a classic science fiction television series from the 1960s. It was produced and hosted by Rod Serling who wrote more than half of the 156 episodes. The stories are so well told that the show is still repeated and readily available today. It was also a training ground for many actors and directors, including Robert Redford, Charles Bronson, Ron Howard, and William Shatner. A series of graphic novels were developed based on script episodes. This particular book comes from the tenth episode of the third season, also called "The Midnight Sun."

The story follows a young female artist, Norma, who lives in New York City. For the past several months, the weather has gotten hotter and hotter, driving citizens from the city. Those who have remained behind are slowly going crazy. She lives in a walk-up apartment. Her building is down to two residents--her and her neighbor Mrs. Bronson. They try to keep each others spirits up, even though there's no good news from the TV or from the passersby in the street. Norma paints sweltering landscapes that mirror the bleak heat outside the building. As with many Twilight Zone stories, the ending has a nice twist that I didn't see coming the first time I saw the episode on TV.

This adaptation stays very close to the script, even including scenes from the script that weren't filmed for budgetary and time constraints. It does a great job at capturing the oppressive heat and despair in the story as well as Norma's efforts to survive her various run-ins with desperate people. The visuals open up the story. It has the more epic feel that Serling could not capture on a television budget, depicting things like Liberty Island as a dried out hill next to Manhattan.

It's nice to visit stories from old favorites and the graphic novel format suits The Twilight Zone quite well.

Great quote from the introduction by Anna Marlis Burgard:
While he had his run-ins with censorship, Serling's clever use of other worlds and veiled scenarios generally protected him. As he explained, what he couldn't have a Republican or a Democrat espouse on the show, he could have an alien profess without offending the sponsors. This approach also allowed viewers to take away whatever message best suited them; the more reflective could consider the psychological and political implications, while others might be satisfied with simply enjoying the thrill of the surface story. So much more than mere science fiction or fantasy, Serling's scripts are parables that explore the multifaceted natures of hope, fear, humanity, loneliness, and self-delusion.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading this version as well as the new one by Stephanie Meyer!