Rod Serling, Twice Removed
CranstonShenir | Albuquerque, NM USA | 12/02/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"While this initially comes off as a "Twilight Zone"-style morality play, shifting a thinly-disguised Western setting into a science fiction setting, it should be pointed out that this film is quite far removed from Rod Serling's original. In fact, the Amazon reviewer's statement that Serling's script was "unproduced" is not strictly true."A Town Has Turned To Dust" was a television play written in the 1950s, the heyday of live television drama (I can't recall if this was a Playhouse 90 offering). Serling's original script focused on a real-life case involving the lynching of an African-American man, with the complicity of local law enforcement officials. The network feared that this was too inflamatory and controversial to be produced in Serling's original form, so it was rewritten extensively. The version that *was* produced and aired in the 1950s changed the setting to New Mexico in the late 1800s, and changed the victim's character from African-American to Mexican immigrant. Rod Steiger played the local sheriff.Rod Serling was extremely upset about these alterations, and felt that they had gutted his story, putting too much distance between audience and subject. The "old West" setting, in his opinion, dulled the impact and relevance that his play was intended to have. The play, as written, was not "allegory" at all -- it was a somewhat fictionalized retelling of recent (or current) events, whose impact came from its *contemporary* relevance.I can't help wondering what Serling would have thought of this recent version, which now has two thick layers of reworking. It is no longer a "1950s lynching placed in a Western setting", it is now a "1950s lynching placed in a Western setting and moved to a Science Fiction setting." The setting -- and the relevance -- of Serling's original have been distanced even further from his original intention. In drawing the play further and further from its intended context, Serling's voice is increasingly muted."
A very interesting telling of an old story
Tressa L. Breen | Gardner, MA USA | 12/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Two hundred years in the future, in a radioactive scrap metal mining town on the almost completely abandoned, draught ridden, dying planet Earth, a young man of a "second class race" is lynched for the supposed beating and attempted rape of the wife of the town boss before he can be taken off planet to the new home of humanity for trial. The act exhumes an old guilt that begins the final disintegration of a town already half buried in the ugly dust of racism and prejudice.
Steven Lang does an excellent job as the useless, haunted town drunk and Sheriff Harvey Denton. The "Cain and Abel-ish" brother like relationship between his character and Ron Perlman's (superbly done) town boss and mob ring leader Jerry Paul is well done by both actors. You can see it there dying, being killed by time, guilt, booze and power. The abusive love-hate relationship between Jerry Paul and his wife Maya (Barbara Jane Reams) is very realistic, scary in its unhealthy depths of possession and desire to care and be cared for.
The DVD unfortunately does not have the making of documentary."
The world's problems never change.
Tressa L. Breen | 07/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A Sci-Fi type of movie is not what I usually like but this is a great movie. Written by the late Rod Serling it shows a time in the future where the problems are the same as we have now and have had in the past. A lot of what this movie is about is prejudice and hate. Ron Perlman and Frankie Avina are the shinning stars in this movie. I highly recommend this movie."