I can’t have been any older than 8 or 9 when my brain was permanently warped by The Adventures of Mark Twain. My folks though they were treating me to fluffy kid’s fare. They were quite wrong. A full length feature directed by claymation innovator Will Vinton, the film follows the existensial journey of Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher as crew members aboard the funky, Verne-inspired flying machine of a very suicidal Mark Twain.
It’s been well documented that Twain –who was born and died with the arrival of Halley’s Comet– was a deeply depressed, reclusive misanthrope in his later years. In the film, disgusted with the human condition, Twain is determined to hunt down the comet and crash into it. “I will continue on doing my duty, but when I get to the other side, I will use my considerable influence to have the human race drowned again, this time drowned good. No omissions. No ark.”
Worried about their own fate, the kids plot to hijack the ship. With the aid of an inter-dimensional portal aboard, they meet several characters from Twain’s various short stories, including Captain Stormfield, the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and The Mysterious Stranger (this last sequence has got to be one of the impressive displays of clay animation around, not to mention the creepiest):
Brrrruh. Bruce Bickford would be proud.