The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985)

The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985)

An old-school example of the surreal joys of claymation, told with total narrative freedom

7.1

Movie

United States of America
English, Italian
Adventure, Animation, Family, Fantasy
1985
WILL VINTON
Chris Ritchie, Dal McKennon, Gary Krug
86 min

What it's about

Based on elements from the stories of Mark Twain, this feature-length Claymation fantasy follows the adventures of Tom Sawyer, Becky Thatcher and Huck Finn as they stowaway aboard the interplanetary balloon of Mark Twain. Twain, disgusted with the human race, is intent upon finding Halley's Comet and crashing into it, achieving his "destiny." It's up to Tom, Becky, and Huck to convince him that his judgment is wrong and that he still has much to offer humanity that might make a difference. Their efforts aren't just charitable; if they fail, they will share Twain's fate. Along the way, they use a magical time portal to get a detailed overview of the Twain philosophy, observing the "historical" events that inspired his works.

The take

Structured like a series of vignettes based on the titular American writer's works, this stop motion animated film embraces how playful and bizarre the medium of clay can be, showing us everything from whimsical jumping frogs, to Adam and Eve, to Satan himself. But even if The Adventures of Mark Twain might get too weird even and rough around the edges even for a hardcore animation fan, there's an interesting emotional undercurrent here that deals with unanswerable questions on death and the meaning of life. Thanks to a lively and talented cast of voice actors, this fantastic voyage keeps itself grounded to something tangible and heartfelt, and never gets swept up too far into the clouds.

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