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The Adventures of Mark Twain

The Adventures of Mark TwainA delightful and fascinating journey
  into the imaginary world of the creator
  of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn,
  told with beautifully-detailed claymation
  figures and backdrops — a visual treat
  for adults and children.

BORN IN 1835, THE SAME YEAR HALLEY'S COMET visited the Earth during its 75-year cycle, Mark Twain (voice of James Whitmore) believes that he has an appointment with the comet when it reappears in 1910 and that is the year he believes he will go out of the world.

Twain builds a fantastical airship full of gadgets and portals to his stories and his diary and sets off to meet the comet — little knowing that Tom Sawyer (voice of Chris Ritchie), Huckleberry Finn (voice of Gary King), Becky Thatcher (Michele Mariana) and Homer the Frog (Tom Gasek) have stowed away. Or does he?

Featuring a series of amusing and well-observed vignettes extracted from a number of Mark Twain's works, the film is an incredible fantasy journey built around Twain chasing the comet. The three stowaways and Homer are introduced to characters from: The Diary of Adam and Eve; Huckleberry Finn; The Mysterious Stranger; The Famous Jumping Frog of Caliverous County; and Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven.

Particularly funny is when God (Billy Victor) creates The Garden of Eden, with a spectacular waterfall, and then Adam (John Morrison) first and later — to Adam's consternation! — Eve (Carol Edelman), who seems to know everything and to be able to do anything. I was reminded of the song A Hundred Pounds Of Clay by Craig Douglas, which describes how God made everything with one hundred pounds of clay. Adam is destined to become tempted by Eve, even though he tries to escape on a unicorn!

The sequence based on The Mysterious Stranger, featuring a disturbing angel called Satan (Michele Mariana and Wilbur Vincent), reportedly received over ten million views when it was posted on YouTube. This was also allegedly banned from television due to its "disturbing content". Put it this way: sensitive children should not watch this. "Life itself is only a vision," says Satan.

Mark Twain says he has friends in "both places": Heaven and Hell. With Old Captain Stormfield hailing from San Francisco demanding to be let in through the Gates of Heaven, three-headed blue aliens and a mysterious man in a suit, you can well believe it.

Exploring distant lands such as London and Egypt, while dipping into the wonderful world of Twain's imagination, the friends encounter dangers and delights, including Injun Joe, who crops up like a bad penny. There is even an explanation given for the Sphinx's missing nose!

Eventually Tom, Huckleberry and Becky begin to wonder if they will ever get home and Tom decides to hijack the balloon, putting them all in danger. What have they done to the balloon and who will save them? Will they get back safely or will they join Mark Twain in his date with destiny?

There are some terrific touches, including Mark Twain playing an organ with gargoyles singing. The Adventures of Mark Twain is an incredible, funny and fascinating journey into the imaginary world of the author and the Claymation is absolutely splendid. A visual treat for everyone and a must-see for fans of Aardman Studios.

Accompanied by a host of brand new unseen extras, the DVD and Blu-ray of the first full-length feature film in the magic of claymation, The Adventures of Mark Twain (directed by Will Vinton; best known for The California Raisins animation), will be released on 31 October 2011.

Certificate: PG | Running Time: 86 Minutes | Catalogue Number: DVD EKA40341; Blu-ray EKA70036 | RRP: DVD £16.34; Blu-ray £18.38.

Brand new unseen extras

Commentary and interviews by Producer/Director Will Vinton and members of the cast and crew | The History of Claymation, a 25-minute documentary on the origins of stop-motion, Claymation and 3D animation | The Amazing World of Claymation: tour of the popular exhibit hosted by Will Vinton | Behind the Scenes video clips and video news stories from… Mark Twain's initial release | The Art of… Mark Twain — a gallery of original concept art of characters and sets in pencil and paint | Trailer.

"The Adventures of Mark Twain is an incredible, funny and fascinating journey into the imaginary world of the author and the Claymation is absolutely splendid. A visual treat for everyone" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar

"…Twain seems like Fantasia. It's been a long time since anyone but Disney has made an animated feature that adults and children can enjoy together" — Charles Solomon, Los Angeles Times