Mark Twain

Mark Twain (2001)
Warner Home Video
Extras: Featurette, Interview Outtakes, Quotes and Photographs, Conversation with Ken Burns

Like Halley’s comet, Mark Twain was a shining light in the sky that is mankind. The comparison may appear weird, but as many other weird aspects of Mark Twain’s life, the two do seem to be intertwined. Twain was born under the Halley comet and he passed away just as the bright comet returned a lifetime later. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Although a novelist by profession as a result of his fiction writing, upon closer examination of his body of work one quickly realizes that Mark Twain was much more than a novelist. He was a philosopher extricating his views and ideals through his writing. Sometimes it appeared pompous and presumptuous, but at its core Mark Twain’s message was universal and profound. He was the wiseguy who was wise beyond age.

Ken Burns took it onto himself to document the life of this remarkable character and his over 3-hour long film goes into quite some detail. Full with quotes, excerpts and interpretations of Twain’s work, as well as insightful explanation about his personality and worldviews, Burns manages to shows us just how remarkable Mark Twain really was. For many he may only remain the writer of ’Tom Sawyer’ but for those who have the honor of witnessing Burns’ detailed documentary, they will open their eyes to a completely new world of interpretation of Twain’s words.

Warner Home Video brings us ’Mark Twain’ in a fullscreen aspect ration on this DVD in a transfer that is meticulously clean. Featuring good detail and delineation the presentation is beautiful and without any flaws. The audio is presented in a good stereo track, which fully serves the purpose for this documentary, which consists almost entirely of narration with very little music interspersed for atmosphere.

The disc also contains a number of bonus materials, such as a ’Making Of’ featurette, interview outtakes that weren’t used in the film, as well as a conversation with Ken Burns and a look at his approach to making films. All of these extras are very insightful and make a great addition to the disc.

Once again Ken Burns manages to bring to life a person that has long passed on but left an indelible mark on mankind. For some reason Burns manages to pick topics for his documentaries that are extremely interesting and exciting throughout. While at first ’Mark Twain’ may not appear as such, but once you are caught by the first minutes of this documentary you know you will have to watch it to the end. Now, if only he would tackle Albert Einstein.

The verdict is very simple. Check out this documentary and expand your intellectual horizon by learning more of Mark Twain’s genius!