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Mark Twain - A Film Directed by Ken Burns

4.7 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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(Jan 08, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

First, a documentary about the Civil War, where we learned there was nothing civil about it. Then came a deep look into two American art forms--baseball and jazz. Now Ken Burns is on to Samuel Clemens. And if there is one American writer who can do justice to the thorough examination of Mr. Burns's lens, it's Mark Twain. Nearly three years in the making, this effort illuminates the foremost public figure in 19th-century America with archival photographs, interviews with Twain scholars, and Twain's own words. An extraordinary life told in an extraordinary way. Color and b&w. Nearly 4 hours on 2 cassettes or 1 DVD.

Given the legendary life of its subject, it's not surprising that Mark Twain is perhaps the most entertaining documentary Ken Burns has made. The creator of The Civil War and Jazz achieves reverent harmony with the magnificent story of Missouri-born author Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain), encompassing legend and fact with an exhilarating sense of adventure. Hailed by Hemingway as the originator of American literature, Twain (a nom de plume taken from a riverboat pilot's term for "safe waters") viewed himself as the American. Burns's film backs that claim as it follows Clemens's literary odyssey around the globe, from unrivaled acclaim as a writer to near destitution and the devastating deaths of his wife and three children. As usual, eloquent writers and scholars (including longtime Twain performer Hal Holbrook) provide a wondrous flow of anecdotes and observations, recounting Twain's remarkable humor while acknowledging a darker side that felt anger toward an indifferent god. Like all of Burns's films, Mark Twain is must-see viewing. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Keith David, Kevin Conway, Philip Bosco, Blythe Danner, Tim Clark
  • Directors: Ken Burns
  • Writers: Dayton Duncan, Geoffrey C. Ward
  • Producers: Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan, Pam Tubridy Baucom
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Pbs Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 8, 2002
  • Run Time: 212 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RDB0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,965 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mark Twain - A Film Directed by Ken Burns" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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on December 27, 2003
Format: DVD
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on January 9, 2002
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on January 16, 2002
Format: DVD
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