~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.
The DVD also shows the commentaries and interpretations of Mark Twain's work by present American writers.
It can't be better!! I am also going to check out Mr. Burn's other works.
If you're already familiar with Twain's life story, the DVD is not going to reveal anything new to you, and you will likely find it frustratingly scant on details. You don't learn, for example, much about Twain's approach to writing, his inability to accurately estimate how popular his works would be, his continuing schemes for sequels, or much detail at all about the printing machine that bankrupted him. Instead, the DVD mostly follows the major points of his life - where he lived, what he published, family details.
The best bits for someone already familiar with Twain's life are the video clips interspersed throughout the DVD. It was a great joy for me to see Twain's famous shambling gate, as well as his cigar smoking.
In any case, highly recommended to anyone, novice or expert.