"Why The Twilight Zone puts today's TV sci-fi to shame"
With its time-bending twists and all-pervading paranoia, new box set reveals Rod Serling's classic is in a dimension of its own
May th, 2011
With its time-bending twists and all-pervading paranoia, new box set reveals Rod Serling's classic is in a dimension of its own
May th, 2011
"There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition and it lies between the pit of man's fears and summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call … The Twilight Zone."
Now, that's how you start a television show. Those words were first heard coming out of TV sets across the USA on 2 October 1959. In the decades since, The Twilight Zone has become shorthand for anything offbeat, with that spooky four-note theme ("do-dee-do-do") an instant signal that something unusual is about to happen.
While the short story with a twist ending has always been a staple of storytelling, it was Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone that refined it to an artform. It deservedly casts a long shadow in popular culture: if you stick together "The Time Element", where a man repeatedly "dreams" he's waking up in Pearl Harbor on the morning of the attack, with "Where Is Everybody?", which contains images of a flight-suited army pilot in a capsule, you've pretty much got Source Code. Then there's "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge", based on Ambrose Bierce's classic short story where a man about to be hanged in the American civil war escapes the noose, ventures across country to rejoin his wife and child and realises this has all been a dream condensed into seconds as the noose breaks his neck. Expand on that "dreams with time distortion" routine and you'll eventually hit Inception. The Simpsons still riffs on TZ episodes, particularly in their "Halloween Treehouse Of Horror" specials, and there's not an episode of Futurama that passes without some reference. Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly's bizarre oddity "The Box" was based on "Button, Button", a Twilight Zone episode from its 1980s revamp. Once you get into the Twilight Zone you'll see writers and directors such as M. Night Shyamalan as less remarkable: what is The Sixth Sense if not a half-hour Zone episode stretched out to over an hour and a half?
Watching The Twilight Zone today, it's striking how complex, satirical and thought-provoking it all is. While the tales include such fantastical imagery as a stopwatch that can stop time, department store mannequins coming to life, or a child whose dreams take corporeal form, you can clearly see that they're really about the early-60s: an era of race riots, assassinations, crooked politicians and the Vietnam war, when communism and nuclear bombs were palpable fears. People were confused, scared and paranoid, yet so little of the television of the time reflected this mood. Sponsors, executives, salesmen and producers were in charge of the networks and they didn't want viewers distracted by big issues when they should have been thinking about what products to buy. It was in this climate that 34-year-old writer-producer Rod Serling devised The Twilight Zone. After having almost all the contemporary political references excised from an early drama about a crooked senator, he hit upon the idea of using science fiction and fantasy to smuggle in more controversial elements, in plain sight of the moneymen.
Our world is just as chaotic as the 1960s, but you'd never know it from our genre shows. Apart from Battlestar Galactica's space-war on terror, they're full of missed opportunities; flashy and entertaining, sure – but did Lost really have anything to say? Did the remake of V tell us anything other than they really shouldn't have remade V?
Maybe it's no surprise when you look a little closer at the background of those who write for TV. The TV writers of today such as Joss Whedon or JJ Abrams were raised on television; Serling was drawing on his own real-life experiences. He was a working-class kid who earned a Purple Heart and other distinguished medals for bravery as a paratrooper in the second world war. Here was a man who saw a group of soldiers he was standing with killed in a shrapnel blast that left him largely unscathed. So when it came to telling stories, the characters he created had precarious lives, often meeting terrible fates at the hands of outside forces (did anyone ever even die properly in Lost?).
It's not to suggest that JJ Abrams should enrich his worldview by taking up testing experimental parachutes and ejector seats as Serling did, or that Mad Men's Matthew Weiner should follow Serling's example and become a boxer for a few years. But imagine 50 years from now: what will our television output say to the future about our world of today?
Fortunately, there is still a place where ideas matter, where things happen regardless of whether or not they are fair, where themes and concepts torn from the headlines are doggedly pursued to often horrific endings. This place may not be on television any more, but thanks to DVD and Blu-ray it's still accessible. That place has always been and always will be … The Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Zone
"To Serve Man"
March 2nd, 1962
"To Serve Man"
March 2nd, 1962
1. Standard road opening
With vehicle smashing into letters, propulsion into starry night, then PAN DOWN TO OPENING SHOT OF PLAY.
2. Film clip U.N. building [Day]
3. Int. General Assembly [Day]
A giant cavernous room, at this moment absolutely empty and devoid of sound.
4. Pan shot across the front row of desks
Taking in a shot of the cards on each desk: "United States of America," "United Kingdom," "India," "Argentina," et cetera. Over this pan we hear Serling's voice.
This is the General Assembly of the United Nations at four o'clock in the afternoon on a given day. Kindly note: the room is empty. But this is due not to a long lunch hour, not to the end of the world, and not to any labor trouble on the ambassadorial level. The representatives of the nations of the world are at this moment watching their television sets and listening to their radios much as are the people in the countries they represent throughout the earth.
5. Large double oaken doors
With the title printed on them on a brass plate, "Secretary General."
For as we will soon see...this is a rather momentous afternoon.
ABRUPT CUT TO:
6. Int. Secretary General's office extremely tight close shot Secretary's face
Perspiring, haggard, torn. The CAMERA PULLS BACK for a shot of the room, loaded with reporters, tv cameras, and a myriad collection of shouting, gesturing, milling people. Cameramen keep shouting to the secretary to turn this way and that way for a better shot. Radio technicians keep thrusting microphones closer to his face and throughout, the Secretary pleads, exhorts, supplicates for a semblance of sanity in the room.
Please, gentlemen. Please. May we have quiet, please? Would you give me your attention?
7. Different angle the room
As U.N. guards move around, desperately trying to bring quiet. In this shot we see a long line of interpreters, each sitting in front of their own small table with a microphone.
8. Different angle Secretary General
As he rises.
(over the growing quiet)
I have a prepared statement. I say, I have a prepared statement...
May I read it now, please? Would you give me your attention, please?
At this point quiet gradually takes hold and all eyes are on him as he rises and picks up a typewritten sheet. He dabs at the perspiration on his forehead and grips the paper more tightly to stop his fingers from trembling.
Ladies and gentlemen...ladies and gentlemen...I should like to recapitulate the events of the past eleven days.
The CAMERA MOVES ACROSS THE ROOM to move down the row of interpreters as each, in his native tongue, starts to simultaneously translate the Secretary's announcement.
9. Close shot Secretary General
On the Fourteenth of March short-wave broadcasts were received in the principal capitals of the world. These messages very obviously did not originate on Earth. This has been scientifically attested to. Rather, they came from an extraterrestrial race calling themselves the Kanamits. The first messages were somewhat cryptic, announcing merely that there would be multiple landings made at various points around the Earth. We were further told that these landings would be peaceable and that we should take no alarm. These...these broadcasts continued over the past several days, each growing somewhat stronger than its predecessor.
10. Pan shot around the faces of the people
In the room. The drone of the interpreters' voices continues underneath.
11. Back to scene
At eleven this morning, eastern standard time, the first of these landings took place in an area just outside of Newark, New Jersey. We have subsequently had reports of other landings in the Soviet Union, in Norway, the southern coast of France, in an area around Rio de Janeiro, and several others. As of this moment we have not seen the occupants of the crafts that have landed. Speaking on behalf of the United Nations, I can tell you only that at this moment it would be premature to assume hostile intent on the part of these...those Kanamits. So it is the position of the United Nations that the world population remain calm...to make no hostile move...and to keep in mind that all governments are being appraised of the events as they happen and have the situation well in-
What do they look like?
12. Full shot the room
As several other people take up this shout.
Reporter #1 & Reporter #2
Yeah, what do they look like? Why are they coming? Who are they?
13. Different angle Secretary General
Who holds up his hands.
Please, gentlemen. Please. As of this moment we do not know what they look like or who they are. We know only that several of their craft have landed and that-
14. Long shot across the room of the double doors
As they suddenly swing open and several guards enter along with a man in a civilian suit, obviously some kind of dignitary. He rushes across the room over to the Secretary General and whispers something in his ear.
What's going on? What's happening?
Again various voices take up this question.
15. Close shot Secretary General
As he mops his brow again.
It seems that...it seems that one of the craft has just landed a few blocks away. One of the...one of the representatives is on his way to this building.
(he wipes his brow again)
It appears that he-
(he turns to the dignitary again, wets his lips, whispers something in the other man's ear, gets something whispered back in turn, then faces the room again)
The...the "Kanamit" will be here presently. He has requested an audience with this organization.
He looks at the dignitary again who nods and then looks at the clock. PAN OVER TO CLOCK then PAN BACK OVER for a shot of the Secretary General who takes a deep breath and sits down.
So for the moment I would ask you again to all remain calm. One of our...our "visitors" will very shortly make himself known.
16. Pan shot around the faces again
Winding up on a shot of the double doors which have been closed, but which suddenly begin to open. PAN BACK ACROSS THE ROOM, past the silent, tense faces until we are once again on the Secretary General. The silence is suddenly broken by the creaking doors.
17. Different angle the Secretary at this desk
As a giant shadow crosses it. The Secretary General, eyes widening, looks first eye level, then slowly raises his eyes.
18.-21. Several shots of the people in the room
As they too lift their eyes. Over this we hear the clump, clump, clump of footsteps as they enter the room.
22. Long shot across the room
Of the Secretary General as he slowly rises and into the frame, obliterating the camera, is the giant back of the Kanamit who walks very slowly and purposefully toward the desk at the far end of the room. All we can tell from the rear is that this is a vast hulk of a being over ten feet tall.
SLOW FADE TO BLACK:
23. Int. Secretary General's room [Day] Close shot the Kanamit's fingers
Drumming on the table. The perspective here is that of a huge hand on a very small surface. The CAMERA PULLS BACK for a shot of the Kanamit sitting in a chair several sizes too small for him. (Note: We never see the "creature" at the same time as the actual people and are reminded of his size in his relationships to other objects like chairs, tables, ashtrays, etc.) The CAMERA MOVES AROUND for a shot of the profile of the Kanamit. He is vast, all-enveloping, and when he finally does turn toward the camera, we see that his face, while humanoid in general appearance, is almost as if someone had been sculpturing if and had left the job prematurely. It has two eyes, very wide apart, a small opening that passes for a nose, and a tiny, almost imperceptible circular hole that passes for mouth. But when the creature speaks the face remains immobile and the voice has a tinny, recorded quality. It looks slowly around the room, then holds up a right hand in the traditional gesture of peace.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Earth, we greet you in peace and friendship. We come from a planet far beyond the known universe. A planet far more developed than Earth, but we come as friends. Our...
(the creature turns away as if searching for a word)
Our intentions are honorable. We desire above all things to help the people of Earth. To establish...
(again he looks off and slowly reaches down and takes out a small booklet which he refers to. He then nods lumberingly, looks back up)
...embassies here and in the near future to set up reciprocal visits between Earth people and Kanamits.
24. Pan shot around the room
As there is a buzz of questions, reactions, and most basically - concerns.
25. Close shot Secretary General
Who rises in his chair.
Speaking on behalf of the governments of the people of Earth, we bid you welcome.
(he bites his lip)
You...aah...you have a name?
26. Close shot Kanamit
Not in the accepted sense, so you need not make reference to me by name. But feel free to ask me any questions. Any question at all, of any nature.
27. Shot Secretary General
From behind the Kanamit, emphasizing the size.
We have many questions. But for the moment I think we are most interested in first, how you discovered us, how you know our language, the nature of your own planet, its political and social makeup-
28. Close shot Kanamit
As its eyes blink.
First of all - we must make the following admission. We do not know your language. And further...our own methods of communication are mental rather than verbal. Hence, the voice you hear me speaking with is totally mechanical. Your words, or rather your thoughts, are fed into an automatic translator and my responses are in turn electronically altered to simulate those vocal sounds and language known to you.
You cannot speak, then.
(he looks away)
(then back to Secretary)
Not in the sense that you Earth people can speak. But as to the other questions, our planet is not known to you astronomically. It lies far beyond your knowledgeable universe. But it is a technological, highly advanced planet. Its political and social make-up is highly complex and I cannot describe it to you without first educating you in some of the basics of our mores and habits.
29. Close shot Secretary General
As he slowly sits down.
Would you be willing to be interrogated here at our United Nations in a special plenary session, at which time all our nations' representatives could make inquiries of you?
30. Close shot Kanamit
Who once again looks down at his book.
I would be...delighted.
31. Film clip general assembly [Day] Long angle shot looking down
This time loaded to the rafters with people, each desk occupied.
32. Pan shot across the desks
Taking in the names of countries and the tense, urgent-faced representatives of each.
33. Close shot the podium
As the Secretary General rises and bangs the gavel. Then he turns toward his left.
Would you lower the screen, please.
34. Close shot section of room
As a giant screen is lowered and after a moment the figure of the Kanamit, blown up into tremendous room-sized proportions, appears.
35. Shot of the gallery
As they react.
36. Secretary General
Members of the General Assembly, our visitors...the Kanamits...have graciously acceded to our request that they appear in front of us to answer any questions. We felt it would be more practical to televise the...the representative in order to facilitate the questioning. This meeting is hereby called to order and the questioning will proceed.
(then looking over the sea of faces in front of him)
Senor Valdes of Argentina is recognized.
37. Close shot delegate Valdes
As he rises.
Precisely why have you chosen our planet for a visit?
38. Television screen
The Kanamit's head drops forward, then looks up.
It has come to our attention that Earth has been plagued by both natural and unnatural catastrophes, all of which could easily be acted upon and prevented. We are here to help you.
39. Secretary General
Recognizing Dr. Denis LeVeque, the representative of France.
40. The delegate who rises
Monsieur...my government wishes me to ask you the nature of your help. What forms will it take? Indeed, if we should not prefer to avail ourselves of these various...aids that you mentioned - your response would be what?
41. Close shot screen
As the Kanamit reaches down and checks the booklet, then looks up.
We will not force anything on you. You will take only that which you choose to take. For example...on the morrow-
(he checks the book again)
Tomorrow that is, we will demonstrate to all interested parties a new and extremely interesting power source which is atomic in nature and which can supply a form of electric power to entire countries for the cost of a few...
(he looks down at his booklet again)
A few dollars...or rubles...or pesos...or what have you. It's extremely economical.
42. Close shot Secretary General
Suddenly hearing a loud voice, looks over the faces.
Mr. Gregori, the delegate from the Soviet Union.
43. Close shot Gregori
A bald, paunchy man with a sizeable chip on his shoulder, who rises and gestures fiercely as he speaks.
The people of the Soviet Union should like to ask the Kanamits precisely...I repeat that to him...precisely what are its motives in coming here quite uninvited. Are we to assume that your purposes are so totally altruistic that you have a singular and abiding interest in helping others, and may we further assume there is nothing ulterior in these motives beyond this vast humanity that you have mentioned.
There's a murmur of reaction in the room as we
44. Close shot Kanamit
(We are actually alongside of him now. This is not on the screen) He looks up, blinks his eyes.
There is nothing ulterior in our motives. Nothing at all. You will discover this for yourselves before too long simply by testing the various devices which we will make available to you. We can show you, for example, how to add nitrate to the soil and end famine on Earth for good and all. We can demonstrate to you quite practically the principles of the force field in which you may cloak each nation with an invisible wall absolutely impenetrable by bombs, missiles, or anything else. We ask only that you...
(he looks at the book again)
trust us. Only that you simply...trust us!
THE CAMERA PANS DOWN to where the notebook has slipped from his lap to land on the floor.
LAP DISSOLVE TO:
45. Tight close shot notebook lying on a desk
This time in relationship to the desk and other books. A giant encyclopedialike affair. PULL BACK for FULL SHOT OF THE ROOM, obviously a decoding room where, lining the walls in profusion, are charts, cylinders, electric cryptographs, and telegraph cipher machines. There are three men in the room, but the camera favors Mike Chambers who sits at a desk and pores over several volumes, constantly cross-referencing with the "notebook" of the Kanamit. Chambers is in mufti, but the other two are field grade officers.
Well, Chambers? What have you got?
Chambers looks up from his work, rubs his obviously fatigued eyes, shakes his head.
A corker of a migraine headache and eye strain.
(points to notebook)
Can't lick it?
Not in eight hours, I can't. Colonel, it took us almost a year to crack the Japanese code and we had an army of men working on it.
(he points to the papers in front of him)
This is a language of people from outer space, probably five hundred times as intelligent as we are and a thousand times more complex.
You need help?
All donations gratefully accepted. But I showed this stuff to every man on our staff and I've had a dozen people working on it since late last night.
(he looks down at the papers in front of him, reaches over and turns the notebook around)
We've tried pretty much everything. Single transposition. Double transposition. We've tried every known method of cryptography that there is.
(he makes a gesture toward the notebook)
46. Extremely tight close shot cover of notebook
There is a single line of strange-looking letters.
47. Group shot
I don't know whether we've even come close or if we're still a million miles away.
You can't decipher it?
We can keep trying, that's all. Standard, direct, reversed, systematically-mixed, keyword-mixed, random-mixed, reciprocal, conjugate...every nature of sequence of letters that we can come up with. But I'm gonna tell you something right now, Colonel. This is a tough nut. This is a real tough nut.
(he looks up to stare across at the two officers over the lamp which is the single illumination in the room)
Important, is it?
The two officers look at one another.
I don't know. That...that Kanamit or whatever he calls himself dropped this yesterday at the U.N. All we know about it is that he was making reference to it every third line he spoke. The White House seems to feel that if we could decipher this book...we might be able to decipher the Kanamits themselves.
Do they need deciphering? They've done all right by us so far.
(shakes his head)
They don't seem like parlor tricks, Colonel. That nitrate device they demonstrated in Argentina this morning. Six hours later that soil had more vitamins in it than a drugstore chain. I know that country. That's as barren and fruitless as any place on Earth. And there are actually weeds growing in it six hours after the nitrate process was used.
(he looks at the notebook and opens it, rifles through its giant pages)
We might lick this and we might not.
(then he looks up)
But I got a strange feeling that-
48. Close shot Chambers
As he looks back down to the book and slowly closes it.
That we're looking a gift horse in the mouth.
(then he looks up again)
And I got another funny feeling, too.
49. Three shot
(a little acidly)
And that is?
That if these Kanamits are as helpful as I think they are - you two boys will be out of a job. Probably so will I. And very likely so will the whole U.N. You won't need armies or navies or air forces of security divisions or world courts. I think they'll all be obsolete.
(somewhat miffed, waggles a deprecating finger toward the notebook)
Am I to assume, Chambers, that this is a scientific analysis - or some Kentucky windage!
(shaking his head)
I don't know what it is, Colonel - beyond an instinctive feeling. This instinctive feeling tells me that when this Earth gets enough to eat, when there aren't any more wars or diseases or famines...this is going to be a Garden of Eden that stretches from pole to pole.
50. Close shot Colonel One
As he lights a cigarette in abrupt, terse, very military movements.
Your optimism is refreshing, Mr. Chambers. But for the time being I'd consider it a personal favor, not to say a direct order from the Chief of Staff, that you continue your process of deciphering until you can break this code or this language or whatever it is and tell us precisely - and I mean precisely - what that bloody book says!
51. Long shot across the room
As Pat Brody enters the room, an attractive thirty-year-old, carrying a sheaf of papers. She looks briefly at the two officers and carries the stuff over to Chambers and puts it on the desk.
52. Close shot Pat
Her face is tired from strain, but at this moment shiningly triumphant.
We've licked the title of it, anyway.
The two officers move toward her excitedly.
What does it say?
Can you translate it?
Pat points to a sheet of overlay which she puts on top of the Kanamit's notebook. We see the title superimposed over the Kanamit's title and it reads, To Serve Man.
53. Close shot the Colonel
Reacting as he slowly picks up her sheet of paper and studies it. PAN OVER TO SHOT OF CHAMBERS who wears a thin smile.
That makes the cheese a little more binding, doesn't it, Colonel?
(he points to notebook)
Our visitor's little text book bears the following title - To Serve Man. I'd call that a reasonably altruistic phrase.
(he looks briefly at the girl)
Wouldn't you agree?
54. Close shot Pat
As she looks first at the paper in the Colonel's hand then over to the notebook, then to a newspaper draped over the corner of the desk with a picture of the Kanamit standing out in sharp relief. She moves over to the paper and studies it, then looks up.
I'd like to believe it. But I...I...
(and she looks up frowning and from face to face)
I don't know what to think.
55. Close shot Colonel One
As he slowly puts the paper down, stares at the notebook on the desk.
(thoughtfully and softly)
To Serve Man. To...Serve...Man! I hope so. I fervently hope so.
The CAMERA PANS DOWN FROM HIM over to the desk to take in an extremely tight close shot of the notebook.
FADE TO BLACK
END OF ACT ONE
56. Int. Secretary General's office
There are perhaps eight men in the room, each representing a different country. Set up on the Secretary's desk is a 16mm motion picture projector. There's a murmur and buzz of conversation. The Secretary rises.
Gentlemen, may I have your attention, please.
The murmuring stops. The Secretary points to the machine.
The purpose of this meeting is to acquaint you with certain tests conducted over the past week. At the request of several delegates and the full consent of our "guests," the Kanamits, these tests were photographed and you can watch them now.
57. Pan shot across the faces of the men
As they murmur amongst themselves.
58. Long shot across the room
As the Secretary General makes a motion and the lights go out. A projectionist pushes a button and the projector starts shooting its bright light across the room to a screen set up at the far end. The CAMERA PANS OVER for a long shot of the screen where we see a Kanamit seated on a chair. From his temples to his wrists are wires, ultimately ending in the palm of his right hand and taped there. Machines with dials can be seen at his side. They seem diminutive in proportion to the Kanamit.
59. Close shot two machines
Two dials, each with its pointer resting at zero, then a strip of paper with a stylus point resting against it.
60. Close shot scientist in another part of the room
The scientist faces the audience.
These are the standard instruments for testing the truth of a statement. Our first object, since the physiology of the Kanamit is unknown to us, was to determine whether or not they react to these tests as human beings do. We will now repeat one of the many experiments which were made in an endeavor to discover this.
He points to the first dial.
61. Close shot the dial
This instrument registers the subject's heart beat. This shows the electrical conductivity of the skin in the palm of his hand, a measure of perspiration, which increases under stress.
CAMERA PANS OVER to the other machine.
And this - shows the pattern and intensity of the electrical waves emanating from the brain.
62. Close shot scientist
It has been shown, with human subjects, that all these readings vary markedly depending upon whether the subject's speaking the truth.
He picks up two large pieces of cardboard, one red about three feet on the side and the other black, a rectangle three and a half feet long. He turns toward the Kanamit.
Which of these is longer than the other?
63. Close shot Kanamit
64. Close shot the machines
Both needles leap wildly and so does the line on the unrolling tape.
65. Close shot scientist
I shall repeat the question. Which of these is longer than the other?
66. Close shot the instruments
As this time they continue their normal rhythm.
67. Close shot scientist
How did you come to this planet?
68. Full shot of the room
As the men watch the screen.
There's a ripple of laughter in the room.
69. Close shot instruments on the screen
As they respond.
70. Close shot scientist
Once more - how did you come to this planet?
In a spaceship.
71. Close shot machines
As they do not jump.
72. Different angle scientist
Many such experiments were made and my colleagues and myself are satisfied that the mechanisms are effective.
(he half turns toward Kanamit)
Now - I shall ask our distinguished guest to reply to the question put at the last session by several delegates. Namely - what is the motive for the Kanamit people in offering these great gifts to the people of Earth?
73. Close shot Kanamit
As he rises. The voice, a strange metallic riddle, but nonetheless a voice.
On my planet there is a saying, "There are more riddles in a stone than in the philosopher's head." The motives of intelligent beings, though they may at times appear obscure, are simple things compared to the complex workings of the natural universe. Therefore I hope that the people of Earth will understand and believe when I tell you that our mission upon this planet is simply this - to bring to you the peace and plenty which we ourselves enjoy, which we have in the past brought to other races throughout the galaxy. When your world has no more hunger, no more war, no more needless suffering, that will be our reward!
74. Close shot the machines
As they continue a very normal path.
75. Full shot the room
As the screen goes black. There is again a slow murmur of the voices. The Soviet delegate rises.
I should like to pose the question - who promoted that circus?
These tests are quite genuine.
A circus! A second-rate farce. If they were genuine, Mr. Secretary - why was the debate stifled?
There'll be time for further debates tomorrow, the next day, and throughout the week. No one is stifling debate.
I would remind the delegate from the Soviet Union that everything the Kanamit has promised - has not only worked, but worked beyond our most hopeful expectations. The force field - that was tested yesterday morning. A firecracker couldn't get through. And we suddenly find ourselves in that strange millennium when none of us need fear a hydrogen bomb or a missile. We are on the threshold of peace, Mr. Gregori. On the threshold of peace as we've never known it.
There's a murmur of affirmative response and the disgruntled Soviet delegate, white-faced, turns and stalks out of the room.
76. A shot of Kanamit tilt and filling the screen
Gesturing, beckoning, handing out papers, small black boxes, bottles of pills. A very stylized concept of giving with many hands receiving. SUPERED OVER THIS are newspaper headlines. They read as follows: "Fertility of arable land increased by one hundred percent," "Famine thing of hte past," "Heart disease and cancer cure assured by Kanamit injection," "No more war, promises Kanamit, as tests prove effectiveness of 'force field.'"
77. A stylized shot
Of these newspapers falling on top of one another, winding up on a:
78. Full shot of the decoding room night
The CAMERA PULLS BACK from a shot of the newspaper that is lying on Chambers's desk. CAMERA PULLS BACK FARTHER for a shot of the various machines, now shrouded with canvas. The room has a look of decay and disuse. Chambers sits at the desk, hands behind his head, staring up at the ceiling. Pat Brody, in a light topcoat, sticks her head through the open door.
I'm going home, boss. Need me for anything?
(looks up and smiles a little wanly)
Need you for anything? Like what?
(he points to the shrouded machines)
This is not what you'd call a beehive of activity.
79. Different angle Pat
As she smiles and walks into the room, sitting down in a chair near him.
This is the new story of man! Nobody needs to decipher much of anything any more because there aren't any more codes simply because there aren't any more secret messages.
(she looks away, her voice a little reflective)
(then looking toward him)
I mean, not reading about hydrogen bombs or war scares or insurrections or anything like that anymore. There's a rumor going around that they're going to disband the United Nations inside of a month.
Or close to it.
(she rises, walks over to the newspaper where we see the Kanamits' name in big black letters repeated over and over again along with his picture)
How many of them are here now? Anybody ever figured it out?
A few thousand, I guess. They've got embassies in every country now. And for every one that comes - a thousand of us take off in their ships to visit them.
(he shakes his head)
That's the odd thing. The fantastic ease with which human beings make adjustments. One day they watch with bated breath while a single person orbits around the world in a rinky-dink cubicle and they think of this as the most historic moment in the history of mankind. One year later they stand in line waiting to get into a space ship to take them a hundred million miles away in space and they act and react as if it were a weekend picnic in the country.
(he makes a gesture with his hands)
The strange and complex sanity of man. Nothing fazes them.
Are you going?
I'm on one of the ten-year exchange group waiting lists. What about you, Pattie?
I'm on the list, too. The trouble is their quota's filled twenty-four hours after they make the announcement of a new trip. But while I'm waiting I think I'll do the next best thing. I'm studying their language. I remember a professor of mine told me that language reflects the basis assumptions of the people who use it.
(she lights a cigarette)
I've got a fair command of their spoken lingo already. It's not hard, really. And there are hints in it. Some of the idioms are quite similar to English. I think I'll get the answer eventually.
More power! I gave up a month ago. They write in ideographs worse than Chinese, but if I can help you in any way-
80. Close shot Pat
As she moves away, a strange look on her face.
81. Two shot
Did I say something-
(shakes her head)
If you could help me - that was the phrase, wasn't it?
The only thing you can help me with is-
She looks off.
82. Different two shot
As the girl faces him.
Help me get rid of this strange little knot inside me. This very funny persistent nightmarish feeling.
That's right. A little sixth sense, if you will.
That tells you what?
83. Extremely tight close shot Pat
As she looks up at him.
That tells me that maybe we should have looked this gift horse in the mouth!
84. Int. Huge hangar
With a long line of people, each carrying similar small handbags. There is a festive air even in the somewhat dark, cavernous aspect of the room. Several signs point with arrows and read: "Loading platform this way."
85. Moving shot down the line of people
Waiting. We hear little bits of dialogue.
They tell me they've got a mean temperature of seventy-six degrees on their planet and the sun never goes down...
And their clothing. It's a metallic substance. Just beautiful. Kind of like a spun gold. And my sister says the day you land they take you on a conducted tour through all their shops and you can pick up as much of it as you want.
It's just one big holiday when you get there. They've even got a form of baseball or something like it, leagues and everything just like here. Man, I don't think I'll want to come back once I do get there...
And the whole trip, and it's millions of miles, mind you...The whole trip only takes just a few days.
The CAMERA CONTINUES TO PAN down and in one very noticeable moment we see the Soviet delegate standing there, all smiles, with a rather chubby wife. Then we reach the end of the line and we see Chambers standing there. The line starts to move and we hear the voices of excited delight.
Voices of Man #1 #2
Woman #1 & #2
Oh, we're moving.
Good, we're ready to leave
Isn't this exciting?
86. Different angle the line
As they move through the hangar.
87. Long shot across the tops of their heads
Of a giant cavernous door which is now open as the people file through. A space saucer, landing ladder down, can be seen beyond open door.
88. Moving shot Chambers
As he reaches a point close to the door. He suddenly hears Pat's voice calling.
Mr. Chambers? Mr. Chambers!
89. Different angle Chambers
As he turns.
90. Long shot across the room
As Pat runs toward him. She reaches him, out of breath, and pulls him to one side.
91. Two shot
You're just in time to say goodbye.
(looks briefly toward the door)
Can you get out of this? Can you refuse to go?
Are you kidding? I've been waiting six weeks for this. And don't say that out loud or there'll be a thousand people trampling over the two of us to take my place.
92. Close shot Pat
As she again looks toward the door, this time with an unconcealed horror.
93. Close shot Chambers
As seen over her shoulder. His eyes narrow.
What's the matter, Pat? What's going on?
94. Reverse angle looking toward her
Her lips tremble.
I...I finally deciphered their language. All of it. I read their book.
95. Close shot a suspended speaker overhead
A Kanamit's metallic voice rings out.
Please move ahead. You're holding up our departure. Kindly move ahead.
96. Two shot Chambers and Pat
Mr. Chambers...Mr. Chambers, the first page is just a collection of English words with their own translation. But the rest of the book...the rest of the book...
97. Close shot speaker
Kindly move ahead, please. Through the doors. You're holding up our departure.
98. Back to scene
(pats her cheek)
Write me about it. I'll have plenty of time to read letters. I'm going up there for a rest more than anything.
99. Different angle of him
As he starts toward the door again, leaving her standing there. He turns close to the door. In the frame we see the space-ship boarding ladder, the last of the passengers are disappearing into the ship.
100. Long shot looking back toward Pat
(her lips quivering, tears in her eyes)
Not so much time as you think. Mr. Chambers...the rest of the book...
ZOOMAR INTO AN EXTREMELY TIGHT CLOSE SHOT of her.
To Serve Man...it's a cook book!
101. Long shot Chambers
As for a moment he looks stunned. ZOOMAR INTO EXTREMELY TIGHT CLOSE SHOT HIS FACE as the horror takes hold. Slowly a huge hand comes into the frame to touch Chambers's cheek, pinch it lightly as if feeling for tenderness, then the hand gently, but very firmly turns Chambers around and propels up the stairs and they very slowly close up. During the process of this closing, we hear Serling's voice in narration.
The very explicit and very specific differences in points of view. To the wee ones...the little folk called man...it's a marvelous adventure, a voyage to another planet. An exciting sojourn to another section of the galaxy. But to the very large, granite-faced inhabitants known as Kanamits...it's nothing more than a cattle car, a very comfortable provisions ship bringing food from the other end of the universe. Like I say...it's all in the point of view.
FADE TO BLACK.