Mark Twain (2001 TV Movie)
Narrator: "I am not AN American," Mark Twain said, "I am THE American."
Mark Twain: I was made merely in the image of God, but not resembling Him enough to be mistaken for Him by anyone except a very near-sighted person. I believe our Heavenly Father created man because he was disappointed in the monkey.
Arthur Miller: I'm sure there are artists that are good businessmen, but I've never met any.
Narrator: He was a Southerner and a Northerner, a Westerner and a New England Yankee; a tireless wanderer who lived in a thousand places all around the world. He would call just two of them home: the Missouri town of his childhood, which he would transform into the idealized hometown of every American boy, and the magnificent Connecticut house he built for his wife and children, which he hoped would shelter them from hardship, but where heartbreak found them nonetheless.
Narrator: During his long life, he was a printer's apprentice and a riverboat pilot, a prospector who never struck gold, and a Confederate soldier who never fought a battle. He was considered the funniest man on earth, a brilliant performer on the lecture circuit who could entertain almost any audience... and a spectacularly inept businessman whose countless schemes to get rich quick threatened again and again to bring him to ruin. But above all, Mark Twain was a writer, a natural born storyteller, and a self-taught genius with words who understood before anyone else that art could be created out of the American language.
Narrator: He wrote constantly: newspaper stories, poetry, plays, political diatribes, travel pieces, irreverent musings about religion, and a series of autobiographical sketches noted as much, he admitted, for the tall tales they spun as for the truth they told. And he wrote books, books read by millions, including the deceptively simple story of a backwards boy and a runaway slave that showed his people a whole new way to think about themselves.
Narrator: He was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the sixth of seven children, two months premature and so thin and sickly, his mother remembered that "I could see no promise in him." But Halley's Comet blazed in the sky on the night of his birth, and his mother clung to the hope that it would be a bright omen for her baby's future.
Mark Twain: 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.
Mark Twain: [referring to his boyhood friend Tom Blankenship] He was the only really independent person - boy or man - in the community, and by consequence he was tranquilly and continuously happy and was envied by all the rest of us.
Mark Twain: In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it. The local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind - and then the texts were read aloud to us to make the matter sure; if the slaves themselves had an aversion to slavery they were wise and said nothing.