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The Adventures of Mark Twain (DVD)

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Genre: Children's DVDs / Theatrical Release: 1985 / Universal, suitable for all / Director: Will Vinton / Actors: James Whitmore, Carol Edelman, Chris Ritchie, Gary Krug, John Morrison ... / DVD released 2006-01-31 at MGM / Features of the DVD: Colour, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC

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      15.08.2008 19:39
      Very helpful



      The first Clay Animation feature lenght film.

      In a few days, my flat mate will be arriving back from sunny Cyprus. I will no longer have the flat all to myself. I will, however, have someone to do the dishes again. It's been murder having to do them all myself! I hate dishes with a passion.

      Having the flat to myself for the last week and a bit has forced me to start finding things to keep myself entertained. Between guys, Mario Karting and pubbing, I've been tinkering around on the interwebz. Upon my travels I have seen many things. Mostly porn. After the novelty of porn with the sound on wore off, I let my friends back into my life. At which point they all started sending me YouTube Videos. Me being the conscientious friend that I am, watched none of them. Instead, I jumped from one video to the next using the suggested videos at the side.

      ---It is YOU who is the Tube---

      Somewhere along the way I came across a rather eerie "children's" film. It was just a clip. I had to find the full length version!! Thankfully, my google-skillz are mad. Within a few minutes I had found out where the clip was from. A Clay-mation film (think Wallace and Gromit) called "The Adventures Of Mark Twain". Well now I had to get it. Virtually impossible to find in region 2, you'll need to get yourself a Region 1 copy if you want to buy it. It's also available to download if you are into naughty things like that.

      ---Hocus Pocus---

      The front cover boasts that it is the "first full length feature film in the magic of clay-mation". Well that just interests me even more!

      This is a "general" certificate which to us Brits means it's a U rating. I would highly recommend that you maybe watch the film first before thinking this will be a great thing for your kiddies to sit and watch. Me thinks they lied when they said this was a family film. This is creepy to the Mother Effing max.

      The film is based around the life and works of Mark Twain (real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens and voiced by the old guy who hangs himself half way through The Shawshank redemption, James Whitmore) We begin by reading a rather eerie (and apparently famous) quote from Twain. He talks about how he was born when Halley's Comet was in the sky, and he expects to die when it comes round again. Twain obviously knew his stuff. He died when Halley's Comet was next burning in the sky. For those who have no clue about Halley's Comet, it comes round every 75-76 years. Last time it appeared in our skies was in 1986 (which un nerves me a little being that it's the year I was born) and is next scheduled for around 2062 assuming we haven't blown ourselves to smithereens by then!

      ---There's a hole in your metaphor, dear Liza---

      We begin in what appears to be a rather old fashioned Study come Games room on a ship. We zoom in to the meticulously detailed desk, where there lies a book. The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huck Finn. The book opens and begins transforming everything around it into a gorgeous river scene, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer are on a raft talking about how bored they are. Suddenly an idea hits them. They have heard of a man in town who is going to meet up with Halley's comet. Boys being boys, they decide they are gonna go along with him. First of all though, they are going to gloat to their stubborn female friend, Becky Thatcher. Being a stubborn female, she stows away with them just so she can call them names.

      So off they pop onto Mr Twain's rather fantastical balloon/ ship / crazy invention. The whole story starts to become a rather twisted metaphor. But a damn good one. Twain is travelling in his balloon filled with his stories, to keep an appointment with the comet.

      It's put together kind of like one of those clip shows where people start talking about the past and then you get to watch recycled bumf. Twain talks to his creations about his life, and we get to see snippets of some of his stories. All the while there is a rather odd man on the ship avoiding the other characters, dressed entirely in black. Sinister indeed.

      Starting off quite innocently, we (rather aptly) get to see a recreation of Twain's first published piece of work, "The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". At this point, its all still quite a light story for the kiddies to digest.

      ---Creepy much---

      After this first story, things start to get a little bit Crazy...Crazier...yeah... The sinister man in black pushes a button and up pops a magical doorway called the Index-a-vator. Similar to Willy Wonkas Glass elevator, it will take you to any of the works of Mark Twain, and all over his rather strange ship. Huck and Tom jump in and end up in the library after having a brief encounter with Injun Joe, another of Twain's darker characters AKA: a screaming maniac.

      ---Adam And Steve---

      The next adaptation we are treated to is The Diaries of Adam and Eve which is quite a hilarious look at the first love story ever. So yes, it may be slightly offensive to some of the more religious among us as it glorifies the eating of the apple... at least it makes it seem the most sensible option. Once the apple is eaten, things start to get a tad creepy again and we are shaken back into the library of the ship by a thunder storm.

      From this point on the film is pretty much full of darkness, meeting more of Twain's sinister characters and the shadowy side of the man himself. The children also start to realise they might not be getting home alive.

      That's where I'm going to stop telling you what happens. The rest of the film is full of brilliant quotes and observations from Twain and some amazing animation. Just do not let it fool you. This is a great little film but one you might want to be careful about letting the younger kids watch as it's full of evil creations, depressing visions of heaven and hell and a small bit of play dough murder. Unless of course, they already own three copies of Grand theft Auto, which most of them seem to.

      On the plus side, it's also full of comedy, gorgeous scenery and dancing, three headed aliens with a penchant for pizza. I kid you not. Definitely a great tribute to Twain's equally dark and humorous personality.

      I was tempted to show my three young cousins this to see how much it would freak them out just so I could report back...but my aunt saw that devious grin on my face as I tied them to the chair, so she stopped me. Damn.

      ---Words and Stuff---

      If anything, this film may be good if you are trying to get your kids into reading. It tells you just enough of the stories to make you curious about the rest of them. I, for a start, will be looking out for a copy of The Mysterious Stranger, a story about Satan.

      Otherwise it's a rather good trip out of reality for a while, with no real direction. Saying that, you could just get drunk. Or you could just shell out the £4.26 for the DVD and have a night in!


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