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January 9, 2010

The Twilight Zone: The Obsolete Man (1961)

The Twilight Zone: The Obsolete Man (1961)

The Hall Of Injustice serves up nothing but hilarious death sentences - and that's just for Misdemeanors!

The Obselete Man (from season two episode 65) takes place in a totalitarian state. Burgess Meredith stars as Romney Wordsworth a man put on trial for the crime of being "obsolete." His occupation, to the shock of everyone, is being that of a librarian - a profession that became punishable by death when the State eliminated literacy. To make matters worse, Wordsworth also believes in God which, funny enough, is also punishable by death. The State has declared that there is no God. Wordsworth is prosecuted by the leader and figurehead of this society known only as the Chancellor who declares before an assembled court: Wordsworth, not being an conformist asset to the State, shall be executed.

Upon being convicted of obsolescence, Wordsworth is given a choice as to his method of execution. Drawing a curious reaction from the court, he cryptically requests that he be granted a personal assassin to whom he may disclose his preferred method of death, the Chancellor himself. He also requests that his execution be televised.

In compliance with the condemned man's wishes, a camera is installed in Wordsworth's study to broadcast his death live to the nation, so it's citizens may see Wordsworth in his final hours. He summons the Chancellor, who shows up at 11:15 PM. After some discussion, Wordsworth reveals to the unsuspecting chancellor that he has locked the door, and that his chosen method of death is by an explosive hidden in the room and set to go off at midnight.

Wordsworth intends to show the nation how a spiritual man faces death and proceeds to read Psalm 23 and the beginning of Psalm 53, among others, from his illegal Bible. He also points out that, as the events are being broadcast live, the State will risk losing face by trying to rescue the high-ranking Chancellor. As the time winds down, Wordsworth's calm acceptance of death stands in sharp contrast with the Chancellor's increasing panic.

The Twilight Zone: The Obsolete Man (1961)
In a facist future, atheism is the state religion. John Fritz co-stars as it's high priest, The Chancellor.

Moments before the bomb explodes, the Chancellor, in a desperate plea, finally begs the old man to let him go: "In the name of God, let me out!" Wordsworth immediately obliges, but not without repeating the mention of God — which the State had "proven" not to exist. The Chancellor bursts out of the room to safety just as the bomb explodes and kills Wordsworth, who dies with dignity.

In the final scene, the Chancellor, now stripped of his rank and reduced to a criminal, is declared obsolete. The crowd in the courtroom eventually surrounds him, and proceeds to drag him, kicking and screaming, to his own death sentence.

Wikipedia, The Twilight Zone: The Obsolete Man (1961)
IMDB, The Obsolete Man
The Twilight Zone, Wiki

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