Roughing It (2002 TV Movie)
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I watched it with few expectations but generally like Twain's style and James Garner has never let me down before. The story was witty and lively enough to keep my interest and seemed to capture at least some of Twain's style. I gave it a 7 out of 10.
Yes, it is overlong, and the faithful-adaptation approach to the source material loses inspiration toward the end. But on the whole this is humorous, touching, and as enigmatic in parts as Twain's original narrative. Twain came from a small town in a part of the country already proud of its traditionalism - he discovers the American West to be substantially a different planet, and we see this through his eyes - partly thanks to some marvelously cinematic camera-work.
Twain's character - among the greatest of the enigmas in the narrative - is also at issue, Was he cowardly lion? Brilliant poker player? Prospector kept from realizing dreams of wealth by pure dumb luck - or just dumbness? Or was he indeed one of the wisest of 19th Century writers, learning from experience and brave enough to present it 'warts and all'? Allowing the story to be about both Twain himself and the American West he discovered is the chief among many charms of this film.