Search - Mark Twain - A Film Directed by Ken Burns on DVD

Mark Twain - A Film Directed by Ken Burns
Mark Twain - A Film Directed by Ken Burns
Actors: Keith David, Kevin Conway, Philip Bosco, Blythe Danner, Tim Clark
Director: Ken Burns
Genres: Television, Documentary
NR     2004     3hr 32min

Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 10/20/2005 Director: Ken Burns


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Movie Details

Actors: Keith David, Kevin Conway, Philip Bosco, Blythe Danner, Tim Clark
Director: Ken Burns
Creators: Allen Moore, Buddy Squires, Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan, Pam Tubridy Baucom, Geoffrey C. Ward
Genres: Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Documentary
Studio: Pbs Paramount
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 09/28/2004
Original Release Date: 01/14/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 01/14/2002
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 3hr 32min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 16
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Unqualified Praise for Mark Twain.
C. Middleton | Australia | 12/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This has to be one of the best documentaries on a literary figure that has ever been made. In the hands of Ken Burns, the richness and subtlety, the humour and tragedy, the successes and dismal failures and a true sustained analysis of the life of Samuel Clemens all combines to give us a personal and intellectual understanding of this towering literary icon of the 19th century. Twain was many things - a riverboat pilot, printer, journalist, miner, speculator, failed business man, and satirist, but most of all a novelist, a grand storyteller that spoke to royalty, presidents as well as the common people. Ernest Hemingway once said that American literature began with the publication of Huckleberry Finn. Twain chose to write this book in the language of the vernacular, while other writers maintained an allegiance to English prose, Huck Finn's voice rose above conformity, informing the American public that the black American was not just a commodity, an object of scorn and prejudice, but a human being. This book not only changed our views on literature but our humanity as well. This film does not skim over the surface of Twain's life and work, but digs deeper into his motivations and inspirations in the context of his environment.~Mark Twain~ took almost three years to produce, which includes hundreds of photographs, actual film footage of the man at home, informed interviews with Twain scholars and writers that give us keen insights into his life and work. What this film shows is that not only is his literature extraordinary, but his life as well. And this life is told mainly through the words of the man himself. Twain lived a dual persona, the man and the celebrity. As another writer has said, this dual persona came to symbolize the emerging American conflict between down-to-earth-morality and freewheeling ambition. Twain lived an extravagant life though hated everything that this represented. He was the author of the Gilded Age, a scathing satire on the post civil war period in which the country prospered and money was worshiped above all things, yet his wealth and lifestyle emulated that very thing he was satirizing. He claimed that he wasn't American, but `the' American. He was a man of genius and contradictions but above all, human, a man who showed us through his work, with a sly wink, that we're all human and essentially in the same boat. This film is undoubtedly one of the best portraits of Mark Twain ever to be done. After watching the film in its entirety, I was hard pressed to find any genuine criticisms, other than minor quibbles and therefore not worth mentioning. If this sounds like unqualified praise for ~Mark Twain~, it is."
Ken Burns. Mark Twain. A perfect combination!
Michael | Trenton, NJ | 01/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ken Burns has done it again! This time with a 220-minute masterpiece of a documentary about the life, times and work of America's best writer -- Mark Twain. Fantastic photographs, interviews, story-telling (and even some rare video footage of Twain himself) make this a marvel from beginning to end. Substantial time is devoted to Twain's wild youth, his wildly productive years and his (yes, wild) years before his death. Excellent interviews with Hal Holbrook and Athur Miller add to this important document (that, in this reviewers mind, was a long-time-coming)."
Wonderful experience! AND... an unavoidably narrow view
Grumpy Young Doc | Cardiff, Wales | 01/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First: This is a great DVD, and anyone who loves Twain, literature, or Americana must see it. Second: This is one person's version of what is most important about Twain's life. But how could it be otherwise? Vast areas of interest are either glossed, or omitted. Twain's big time interest in spirituality and the then emergent metaphysics was not covered. And yet, in his later real life, this was arguably Twain's consuming passion, resulting in virtually all of his writings from the late 1880s onwards. That's just an example. There are others, including Twain's own writings about his Civil War experiences as a Confederate gunboat pilot; his personal relationships and related "drama" with authors Hawthorn and Longfellow, and ex-general and ex-president U.S. Grant, to name but a few. And his intense friendship and mentoree-ship with William Dean Howells. Etc.... On the other hand, who can say what features would be salient if we could have been a friend or associate of Samuel Clemens? The real-life mix might have been quite different from what any of us would imagine, and different from the version director Ken Burns has wrought. After I watched this DVD, I wished fervently that this could have been a 15-hour documentary. There is simply so much to say. And some of the dramatic renditions of Twains writings-- presented as snippets here and there-- would have made important and powerful contributions had they been presented in their entirety. Burns did an admirable job given the limited time available. This production is not quite the sweeping and definitive statement his earlier "Civil War" series was; but the topic is no less important. To paraphrase Burns, and Twain, a study of Twain the man and author is to study America herself. As Twain said, he wasn't AN American, he was THE American. The hundreds of never before seen photos add a thrilling and haunting dimensional peek into our history. The onscreen remarks of actor Hal Holbrook and playwrite Arthur Miller are profoundly meaningful. The remarks of the other "Twain scholars" are mixed. All made valuable contributions, although one of the guys seemed a little dissociated and sterile at times. Imagine trying to cram a man like Mark Twain into some modern psychological theory-du-jour! Can't be done; shouldn't be tried. So, enjoy this important DVD. And continue to read collections of Twains letters, journals, and his stories. Watch all the other rich sources of insights into this amazing force of Nature, and don't be afraid to form your own conclusions, perhaps not cast, as this DVD occasionally was, in the PC zeitgeist of our current age."
Superb biography, perhaps the best
Fitzgerald Fan | Royal Oak, Michigan United States | 08/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"To be sure, I am a student of literature and a fan of Mark Twain, but I had no idea, none whatsoever(!), of what a rich and inspiring life he lived. He was a comic genius as well as a man devastated by continual heartbreak.
I have always known PBS to do a wonderful job with their specials, and I have admired Ken Burns since the day I first discovered his work on the women's movement i.e. the Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton story (highly recommended as well!)...but in their retelling of Mark Twain's life, these two forces have outdone themselves.
From now on I will always think of Samuel Clemens as an intrinsic part of what we call Americana. Forget baseball and apple pie, Twain and his writings are (or should be) the true American pastime.
I have watched many biographies of American authors but none come close to this, NONE. My favorite author of all time is F. Scott Fitzgerald and not one of his many audio visual biographies can touch the completeness and depth that has been carefully devoted here to Twain. In the 3+ hours of this presentation I laughed outloud, and was moved to tears, outraged, entertained, and educated by this telling of Twain's life. There is no way it could be better or more complete and I defy any lover of Twain, or literature in general, to feel differently.
Go to your local library and borrow it first, once you see it, you will insist upon owning it...truly."