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The Adventures of Huck Finn [VHS]
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
From the first opening Clemensian Voice Over and the whimsical fight scene, Huck Finn brims with authenticity and focus. Sure, we've read the book and seen the many movie versions. But this one stands tall and comes to grips with Twain's not-so-juvenile hero as he grows along the river of life. Great allegory sublimates its symbols, so you take it like heroin, directly in the vein. And so it is with this film with a strong crop of performances and a sterling rendition by its star, Elijah Wood.

The spirit of any great literary masterpiece translated to film is not the details a la BBC and Masterpiece Theater, but the distillation of ideas and moods into enduring messages and iconic scenes. Huck Finn is Elijah Wood's first foray into the literary character venue, a venue that would eventually lead him to Frodo Baggins. He does not approach the role as "the lost child on the river," but as a growing cock-sure adolescent, more adult and intelligent for his age and station. His performance is rock solid, never flagging. He provides a variety of moods and is always maintaining a consistent arc with the material. No empty headed river rat here.

Courtney Vance teams with Wood to make a most Twainly Jim. Jim is not the typical slave-he's literary and allegorical. His pain is real, but never obfuscating the themes of the novel; and so it blossoms in the film. Jason Robards Jr and Robbie Coltrane impress as the infamous scoundrels that represent American hypocrisy, while Ron Perlman charges the role as Papp Finn with rugged villainy emblazoned on the ass of white river trash. Anne Heche subtly wisps through as Mary Jane Wilks. But it is Elijah Wood that naturally carries the film. Twain would have been proud to see his creation in the hands of this veteran actor.

Huck Finn keeps us laughing, almost weeping and gets us to think about the same things the original work got America to think about-so, much so as to get the book banned throughout the South. People "be a-feared `bout der truth!" But still, the truth is delivered through the antics and wisdom of a babe who finds his own faults forgiving and the world's most tolerable if taken with a "stretcher" or two. To this reviewer, Elijah Wood's portrayal of Huck Finn is definitive and this version of the novel, then in its centenary, is destined to become a classic. A+
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2002
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The movie: A+
Elijah Wood is/was one of the greatest child actors in Hollywood history. His presence shines through even the most mediocre of films, and when he is given a good supporting vehicle, just sit back and enjoy the show.
The Adventures of Huck Finn is one such vehicle--his best vehicle, in fact. While some will complain that Twain's classic has been Disney-fied, movie lovers will see past the sugar coating to find a gem of a movie about friendship and honor, about choosing good in a world that endorses evil. As Huck comes to respect Jim, we come to love them both, leading us to one of the greatest movie endings of all time. One of my all-time favorite movies, and hands-down the best movie soundtrack I have ever heard.
The DVD: C-
Disney is notoriously slow about releasing movies on DVD, but you'd think that after taking so long they would give the customers something worth waiting for. Not so, this time around.
The only real difference between this and the LaserDisc (released in 1993) is the anamorphic video and behind-the-scenes featurette. Not only do we NOT get 5.1 sound, the Dolby Surround we DO get sounds terrible--as if it had been lifted straight from the LaserDisc (at best) or possibly even a video tape. It's especially noticeable after the crystal clarity of the Disney DVD trailer that immediately precedes the film.
In short, Disney has released a terrible DVD of a terrific movie. Chose which is more important before you buy.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 8, 2001
Format: DVD
Elijah Wood plays Huckleberry Finn, a young boy growing up in the pre-Civil War South. Huck's father is a drunken troublemaker, and is rarely around. The boy has been taken in by two kindly old women who are trying their best to civilize him, but aren't having an easy time of it. Huck lives for freedom and adventure, and the river is constantly calling his name. His best friend is a slave named Jim (Courtney B. Vance), and the two look out for each other, more-so with every passing day. When Huck's father Pap returns for the boy one night, having heard that he's inherited a nice some of money (for those days), the boy is desperate to escape. Trapped and left alone the next day in his father's run-down cabin, Huck escapes and fakes his own "murder." He takes a boat to Jackson's Island, where no one lives and hardly anyone visits, and there he runs into his old friend Jim! The two best friends go swimming, fishing, and have a generally great time, when Jim tells Huck that he's run away and is planning to head down river and then up to the free states. After a personal struggle with the idea of playing abolitionist, a dangerous thing to do, Huck agrees to help his friend escape slavery. The two soon find themselves heading down the river, but at a faster pace than they had expected. They have discovered that Jim is wanted not only for being a runaway, but also for being Huck's "murderer." Huck and Jim have several interesting experiences throughout their journey, including getting mixed up in a tragic family feud, nearly getting caught several times, and teaming up with a pair of con artists known as the King and the Duke (played wonderfully by Jason Robards and Robbie Coltrane). It's here where they meet three lovely sisters (Anne Heche, Laura Bundy, and a young, and very cute Renee O'Connor) and decide to help the girls at their own risk, rather than go on with the cruel scam they were being forced to act out by the two conmen.
I'm soooo happy this wonderful film has come to DVD. This is a perfect film in so many respects. The casting is perfect, the camera work is gorgeous, and the spirit of adventure, friendship, drama, and fun is portrayed perfectly in every scene. True, this is not very similar to the book, Tom Sawyer isn't even mentioned. For a perfect interpretation of the book in the form of a wonderful film you need to get the version starring Patrick Day, which is only on VHS right now as far as I know. You'll want to get the 2 tape version if you can find it, rather than the edited 1 tape version. But while I love the Patrick Day version, this one is by far my favorite. It captures everything I feel a Huck film should, in a shorter, more exciting and to the point story than the book tells. True, it's been Disney-fied, but being a Disney fanatic, I don't mind at all. My feeling is they usually improve the stories they take on. This film is loaded with adventure and friendship, which is the main reason I'm such a Tom and Huck fan, and Elijah Wood really shines in the starring role. His chemistry with Courtney B. Vance is perfect! I had nearly worn my VHS out by the time this film came to DVD. The extras are nice, but there aren't THAT many. It could have delivered more in that department. But remember that this is a Disney DVD, and one they seem to have given low priority, so I'm just glad it's been released on DVD and has any extras at all. My favorite film of all time, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, was given zero extras, and Hocus Pocus, another fave, also had none if I recall correctly. Anyway, I definitely recommend this film for families, Tom and Huck fans, and just pretty much everybody! It's a perfect movie for a rainy Saturday night, baking something sweet and cuddling with someone special.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2012
Format: DVD
I bought this to show to my high school English class. It was nice to see everybody come to life, but many of the most important parts of the book are distorted or completely missing. For example, the scene where Huck rips up the letter that would turn Jim in was cut. They also completely eliminated Tom Sawyer at the end of the novel. However, the director did a lot with an older text, and it is entertaining to see a young Elijah Wood emerge as a star.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2006
Format: DVD
I used this as part of a literature unit with my students and it followed the book very closely but not so closely that we couldn't make some interesting comparisons.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Mark Twain did not write The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to entertain. Despite its reputation as a lighthearted children's story, it carries the weight of a past America and her problems that one man desired to change. Using a young boy as a vehicle, Twain carefully crafted each word with a specific purpose. When Hollywood took hold of the story, it melted all detail and purposeful views of the book into a consumerist, moneymaking expenditure. Clearly, the film adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is not successful in communicating all of the thematic elements of the book. Through a non-existent first person point-of-view and an extremely corrupted plot, the film loses all sense of novelty and naïve expression that Mark Twain efficiently uses to create the timeless adventure and so cleverly address the social and moral conflicts that are present in the novel.
First of all, this lack of a complete first person point-of-view and thirst to entertain without following the book leads the movie to a place where there is no mystery or adventure. In the film, there is nothing withheld from viewers. We act as a third party and simply watch what Huck goes through. This is most apparent on the subject of Huck's father. In the book, we only know what Huck knows, which is that Jim will not let him see the body in the flooded house along the river. In the movie, we blatantly see Huck's dead father on the sinking ship as Jim sees him, which leads to no shocking reveal at the end of the movie. Also, as viewers, we do not read Huck's constant thought process, which is one of the most intriguing elements of the novel. There is no suspense in wondering what Huck will do, so we mindlessly watch as the movie progresses. These changes take away from the adventure of the movie, and while Mark Twain's sole purpose of the book was not to write a pure adventure, the invigorating mystery and adventure in the book draws readers deeper into the story, and therefore more vulnerable to the views Twain presents.
This passive way of viewing the story destroys any personal connection brought about by the book. Even the most subtle plot changes degrade the books ability to cause a reader to feel for Huck and the conflicts he goes through along the journey. With quick transitions and shortened dialogue in the movie, there is no time to lose ourselves in truth of the story and no need for reflection. The film hands all "important" aspects of the story to the movie viewer on a silver platter, and perhaps Hollywood did not even mean for one to digest it, but only consume. With Huck as narrator of the book, Twain expects us to use our own experiences and imagination to connect with the story and realize the importance of it all. Twain wants us to examine morality through Huck. We can examine this in the book when Twain turns Huck into a real caring person, which differs from his role as a complete rapscallion in the movie. As the chaos of the Wilks brother scandal winds down, Huck confronts Mary Jane and reflects on when he saw her crying. He writes, and then thinks to himself: "...I was mighty sorry for you Miss Mary Jane. It made my eyes water a little..." (Twain 204). It shows that Huck truly is a different person than the rascal he claims to be, due to his caring for Mary Jane, and even Aunt Sally towards the end of the book. We lose this sense of truth in Huck in the movie as it aims to quickly move the action along, and we see Huck comfort no one. This absence of introspective sentiment in Huck's movie personality provides no ground for a viewer to attach to Huck and truly examine his thoughts and way of viewing the world.
Lastly, because the movie does not use Huck's exclusive point-of-view, we do not receive Twain's messages that address the social issues he desired to change. In the movie, there is no substance to Huck's character that causes us to study, or even hear, his naïve, yet insightful comments on the subjects of slavery, lying, thievery, and feuds. Despite their absolute importance, the film cuts or drastically shortens certain moral situations, such as when Huck is trying to decide if he should turn Jim in or not. In the book, Huck states something that does not appear in the movie. When he decides to never turn Jim in and free him, Huck says, "All right, then, I'll go to hell" (Twain 228). This is a profound and revealing statement. We see that Twain thinks that the culture affects Huck, so he believes that slavery is a good thing and to free a slave is a sin. The quote is a sort of conviction in that it makes it seem rather ridiculous to expect hell for helping someone. Simple statements like these that Twain makes through Huck are key elements in the book. They are the purpose of Twain's writing. When the movie strips Huck (and the viewers) of these thought-provoking morsels, the story loses its drive and purpose that Mark Twain worked so hard to create.
The film adaptation of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn does not include the same plot as the book, or the dynamic and controlling first person point-of-view, which results in a lack of unforgettable adventure and deep revelations dealing with moral and social conflicts. Mark Twain meant for this story to shake America, connect with her people, and change her issues. The film does not accomplish any of his revolutionary dreams. Created with the purpose of making money, there is no substance to make viewers feel or reflect on their beliefs. Mark Twain's writing is much more potent, and does cause at least some deep reflection. Most authors write literature to make people think. Hollywood, it seems, is not able to do the same.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Twain's masterpiece could not be better portrayed than by young Elijah Wood and Courtney Vance. The portrayals of Huck and Jim are now the standard others will have to follow - and it will be a hard act to follow indeed. Mark Twain fans will be very pleased with this adaptation of the Twain classic novel.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2004
Format: DVD
With his bulbous blue eyes, sculpted cheeks, full lips and cleft chin Elijah Wood looks just like a Botticelli cherub on the loose down Mark Twain's river. The spirit of the novel is captured in full in this story of a self-sufficient boy in 1840's Missouri who forsakes all conventionality to travel southward with his friend, a grown runaway slave who strives for freedom and the chance to buy his wife and children who've been sold elsewhere away from him. In the course of their adventures, which Huck (Wood) narrates so well one feels he's truly and personally speaking to you, they find themselves in the midst of a robbery, in the center of a family feud; Huck goes into girlish drag to steal necessities out from under a suspicious housewife's nose, and, with a pair of con men they meet along the way, they get sucked into becoming core players in a scam to swindle three bereaved daughters out of their inheritance, then facing an angry mob foaming for justice when the truth is revealed.
Elijah Wood brilliantly portrays the lead, bringing to life one of history's most beloved characters and clearly transmitting all the earthy playfulness, confidence, determination, independence, and warmth Twain's Huck Finn possessed, made even more delightful by his rare combination of uncommon Baroque-style beauty and modern puppyish cuteness. Courtney Vance is jovial and friendly as the spirited Jim, and Robbie Coltrane and Jason Robards are comically devious as the scheming 'Duke' and 'King'. The scenery, plantation houses, river boats and banks, busy docks, and woods are all picturesque, visually authentic sights to behold.
The movie does differ from the book in that Tom Sawyer is completely cut from the story, only making perhaps a brief appearance as one of the boys cheering the opening scene fight between Huck and another lad. Therefore, the whole sequence with Tom at the end isn't performed. Also, the 'N-word', which was used liberally throughout the book, has been omitted to conform with current times, replaced always by the address of 'slave'. And, of course,(LOL)in the book Jim and Huck do most of their traveling together in the nude, and we sure as heck can't have THAT going on in a Disney film or in ANY film containing a minor for that matter!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 8, 2002
Format: DVD
Elijah Wood plays Huckleberry Finn, a young boy growing up in the pre-Civil War South. Huck's father is a drunken troublemaker, and is rarely around. The boy has been taken in by two kindly old women who are trying their best to civilize him, but aren't having an easy time of it. Huck lives for freedom and adventure, and the river is constantly calling his name. His best friend is a slave named Jim (Courtney B. Vance), and the two look out for each other, more-so with every passing day. When Huck's father Pap returns for the boy one night, having heard that he's inherited a nice some of money (for those days), the boy is desperate to escape. Trapped and left alone the next day in his father's run-down cabin, Huck escapes and fakes his own "murder." He takes a boat to Jackson's Island, where no one lives and hardly anyone visits, and there he runs into his old friend Jim! The two best friends go swimming, fishing, and have a generally great time, when Jim tells Huck that he's run away and is planning to head down river and then up to the free states. After a personal struggle with the idea of playing abolitionist, a dangerous thing to do, Huck agrees to help his friend escape slavery. The two soon find themselves heading down the river, but at a faster pace than they had expected. They have discovered that Jim is wanted not only for being a runaway, but also for being Huck's "murderer." Huck and Jim have several interesting experiences throughout their journey, including getting mixed up in a tragic family feud, nearly getting caught several times, and teaming up with a pair of con artists known as the King and the Duke (played wonderfully by Jason Robards and Robbie Coltrane). It's here where they meet three lovely sisters (Anne Heche, Laura Bundy, and a young, and very cute Renee O'Connor) and decide to help the girls at their own risk, rather than go on with the cruel scam they were being forced to act out by the two conmen.
I'm soooo happy this wonderful film has come to DVD. This is a perfect film in so many respects. The casting is perfect, the camera work is gorgeous, and the spirit of adventure, friendship, drama, and fun is portrayed perfectly in every scene. True, this is not very similar to the book, Tom Sawyer isn't even mentioned. For a perfect interpretation of the book in the form of a wonderful film you need to get the version starring Patrick Day, which is only on VHS right now as far as I know. You'll want to get the 2 tape version if you can find it, rather than the edited 1 tape version. But while I love the Patrick Day version, this one is by far my favorite. It captures everything I feel a Huck film should, in a shorter, more exciting and to the point story than the book tells. True, it's been Disney-fied, but being a Disney fanatic, I don't mind at all. My feeling is they usually improve the stories they take on. This film is loaded with adventure and friendship, which is the main reason I'm such a Tom and Huck fan, and Elijah Wood really shines in the starring role. His chemistry with Courtney B. Vance is perfect! I had nearly worn my VHS out by the time this film came to DVD. The extras are nice, but there aren't THAT many. It could have delivered more in that department. But remember that this is a Disney DVD, and one they seem to have given low priority, so I'm just glad it's been released on DVD and has any extras at all. My favorite film of all time, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, was given zero extras, and Hocus Pocus, another fave, also had none if I recall correctly. Anyway, I definitely recommend this film for families, Tom and Huck fans, and just pretty much everybody! It's a perfect movie for a rainy Saturday night, baking something sweet and cuddling with someone special.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
What a great movie! Good for adults and older kids (maybe 8 years old+). Script is well written, based on Twain's novel. Character portrayal draws you into the movie, and then the film is just the right length -- I've really enjoyed it every time I've seen it. Somewhat serious, but with nice characters and relaxing humor so it's very enjoyable. Also a more accurate representation of slavery, too, so kids pick up some good horizon-expanding. Some parents might want to watch with their children for a couple of scenes -- one is with "Pap" toward the beginning when he's drunk, and another almost at the end, when the climax hits while Huck is trying to escape with Jim.
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