Ken Burns, the premiere documentarian of Americana, tackles the life of Mark Twain, the first writer with a uniquely American voice. In this installment in Burns' "American Lives" series, the two 2-hour episodes explore a side of Twain that is unfamiliar to many. Widely regarded as the funniest person of the 19th century, Twain suffered through severe personal tragedies and lack of business sense that brought him to the brink of financial ruin on several occasions. Includes interviews with writers William Styron and Arthur Miller and actor Hal Holbrook (who has portrayed Twain in a one-man play each year for over 50 years). Written by
I was born the 30th of November, 1835, in the almost invisible village of Florida, Monroe County, Missouri... The village contained a hundred people and I increased the population by one per cent. It is more than many of the best men in history could have done for a town... There is no record of a person doing as much, not even Shakespeare. But I did it for Florida, Missouri, and it shows I could have done it for any place - even London, I suppose.
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Music of Boatmen
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This is one of the finest films I have ever seen. And I have watched it over and over. One comes away awed that one man could have endured so much sorrow and been able to translate it in a way other people could learn from, sometimes through laughter.
Ken Burns is a treasure. He has given us a well rounded picture of a gifted man who was all too human. Could one person have lived his life more fully than Samuel Clemens? This is a fascinating study of a writer I knew little about and now will honor whenever I hear his name.
Mark Twain was not afraid to write about ugly things, evil things, but wise enough to do so in a manner that lead the reader deep into the subject before realizing the truths he met along the way, and by then it was too late. The reader learned something about slavery or how one group of people treats another or about human nature that he had not intended to learn.
This film is a masterpiece and worth viewing often.
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