Arts Channel – Tuesday 20 November, 8.00pm
A film by Ken Burns, profiling the remarkable life and times of America’s greatest writer, Samuel Clemens, known and beloved to the world as Mark Twain. It follows his rise from a hardscrabble youth in Missouri, his wanderings as a Mississippi riverboat pilot, Nevada prospector, California journalist, and as humorist on the lecture circuit. Due to his tours of Europe, Australia and other parts of the globe he became, by the time of his death, one of the first truly worldwide celebrities. Mark Twain will reintroduce millions to this compelling yet contradictory genius, perhaps the only man who could say with some justification, “I am not an American, I am the American.” Nearly three years in the making, the film draws from more than 63 hours worth of material. There is stunning cinematography from the places important to Twain’s story and thousands of archival photographs of the man who called himself “the most conspicuous person on the planet”. Fascinating insights are culled from nearly 20 interviews with some of the nation’s leading writers and top Twain scholars, including Arthur Miller, William Styron, Russell Banks, Ron Powers, Hal Holbrook, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Laura Skandera-Trombley and Jocelyn Chadwick. Actor Keith David, who was the voice of JAZZ, is the narrator. The skilled character actor Kevin Conway breathes a fresh life into Twain’s own words.
“Burns doesn’t just recount the colourful artist’s life story – he makes it come alive.” – Entertainment Weekly
“MARK TWAIN does justice to an American treasure.” – People Magazine
“By the end you feel as if you know both Sam Clemens and Mark Twain.” – The Boston Globe