Watch Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) in this dramatic reenactment
of his return to Hannibal, Missouri, his boyhood hometown. Actor
Richard Garey is very convincing, looking every bit the part in
his period wardrobe complete with various hats. We see Samuel Clemens
in his study by the fire, at the waterfront, on the street in a
horse and buggy, and in various establishments as well as childhood
and novel landmarks. A priceless feature of the documentary is
Samuel Clemens's humor and anecdotes, which are woven throughout.
This provides students with a distinct flavor for the author and
Street scenes and views of the Mark Twain Riverboat add to the
authenticity of the 66-minute video. Frequently, other people seen
in the production are also wearing period costumes. However, plenty
of tourists are also filmed, and this is a bit jolting. It would
have been nice if the mood had been consistent throughout or if
smoother transitions between scenes had been provided.
With the exception of one scene with Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher,
most of the video is Mark Twain speaking. My children, ages 10,
11, and 15, found this a little tedious. Some more scenes with
other actors, or perhaps some interviews with residents and shopkeepers,
or even some narration could have been included to help break up
the monologue. Or perhaps some longer sections from his works could
have been read or recited.
At times, the documentary seems to be more of a promotional video
for the town, as the viewer is introduced to bed and breakfasts,
shops, entertainment, and restaurants in Hannibal. Integrating
more of the history or significance of the featured places of business
may have downplayed the commercialism. An unfortunate error occurs
when Mark Twain refers to Tom Sawyer's father as the town drunk;
that should have been Huckleberry Finn's father.
If you are reading and studying one of Mark Twain's classics,
especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or The Adventures
of Huckleberry Finn, this video would be a wonderful way
to enhance your studies. Of course, it would also be a great film
to watch if you are planning a trip to Hannibal, Missouri.