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
Typically emotional and reverential Ken Burns biography, featuring the usual display of wonderful vintage pictures and discreet music and sound accompaniment, as well as professional line-readings and commentaries.
Twain's interesting life alone and all the anecdotal plentifulness of Burns's script guarantee three-and-a-half entertaining hours, but as a documentary about such a witty and sagacious writer, this feels too conventional and tame in style and presentation, hammering home some of its notions about Twain's inner conflicts too repetitively.
It's still quality work, though.
7 out of 10 failed business schemes
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