The Adventures of Mark Twain (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Collector's Edition, Collector's
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Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher stow away with Mark Twain on his magical airship and take an incredible journey through time in search of Halley's Comet! Along the way they encounter a variety of Twain's storybook characters from The Diary of Adam and Eve, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Mysterious Stranger, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven.
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Although the term "Claymation" is now in general usage meaning animation created through the manipulation of clay figures, it is actually a copyrighted word coined by Will Vinton. His Academy Award and Emmy Award winning films showcased the pinnacle of artistic development in the technique, and none more so than The Adventures of Mark Twain. Wonderfully detailed character faces are complemented by lavishly decorated sets and swirling backgrounds, each minute on the screen having required many hours to create. Recent practitioners like Aardman studios in Britain have advanced the art of creating an engaging story with clay figures, but none have surpassed the realism achieved by Vinton.
The Adventures of Mark Twain follows the career of America's premier author of the nineteenth century, as he tells some of his stories to his best-known characters: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Becky Thatcher. The children have stowed away on Twain's airship, which he is piloting toward a rendezvous with Halley's Comet. The stories are connected by a background narrative consisting largely of direct quotes from Mark Twain, who is perhaps now better known for his pithy and cynical comments than for his books. As one of those quotes states, "Classic books are those people want to have read, but don't want to read."
Mark Twain's first published story was the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and it is presented first in the film. The great majority of Twain's writing had nothing to do with religion, but of the four stories highlighted in this film, three are inspired by the Bible, or touch obliquely on religious themes. We are shown the good humored Diaries of Adam and Eve, then we encounter the dark Mysterious Stranger. The "stranger" identifies himself as Satan. Lastly, we accompany Captain Stormfield on his visit to heaven. A few viewers, unaware of Twain's religious skepticism, are surprised and uneasy when they find that he wasn't all about jumping frog contests and whitewashing fences.
I was particularly moved by viewing The Adventures of Mark Twain because I had read while in Jr. High School everything Twain had written, with the exception of the suppressed works such as Letters from the Earth, which was not published until many years after his death. Like a visit with an old, old friend, the film was a bittersweet experience. Twain's works were a reflection of the reality of life, mixing the humor and the sorrow. A perfect example of this duality is taken from the Diaries of Adam and Eve, where after a lifetime of comical adventures, Adam writes the last words in his diary following the death of Eve: "Wheresoever she was, there was Eden."
Nearly twenty years later I found a clip on 'YouTube' that sparked my memory, and hunted it down through Google. Thank God for technology....
My son and I watched The Adventures of Mark Twain together, and I was surprised by how relevant it was today. My son actually showed interest in it, even though there's no computer animation. In my opinion it's a timeless classic, and although it deals with a few adult themes it presents them in a humorous and easily digestable way. The animation is beautiful, the storyline compelling, and it wraps up nicely.
I dont want to give the impression that if you didn't see this as a kid you won't enjoy it. The movie is, as I mentioned, very pleasing visually. Its story is strange (especially for a kid), but its well worth watching, especially since it doesn't cost much.
Hope this helps.