Considered the Father of Claymation--he coined the term--Will Vinton
ushered the medium from simplistic, cartoonish infancy into technical and artistic maturity. Through the 70's and 80's he honed his chops crafting short films (Oscar-winner Closed Mondays
, The Little Prince
), music "videos" (John Fogerty
's Vanz Kant Danz
) and ad campaigns (infamously, The California Raisins
) combining nuanced characterization with an exquisite sensitivity to his sculptural medium. The culmination: The Adventures of Mark Twain
, the first and only fully-claymated feature film, and the last word in this labor-intensive technique.
Into the tradition of Eastern European stylized epic fantasy, such as the Jules Verne-inspired adventures of Karel Zeman, Vinton brings Terry Gilliam-like attention to the travails of a heroic dreamer: the quintessentially American author Twain. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, stowaways on an airship piloted by their aging author, are led on a rambling journey through his lesser-known writings, peppered with acerbic late-life musings about human nature, religion, and mortality in this penetrating interrogation of Twain's iconoclastic genius. Ornate Victorian-gothic production design makes gloriously expressionistic, at times abstract use of the manipulative possibilities of clay, in both 2-D and 3-D. What starts out looking like a simple kids' movie quickly moves into darker territory--one stunning sequence has been deemed too disturbing to include in TV broadcasts.
Due perhaps to its complex nonlinear narrative structure, or to its philosophically "mature" themes, like the best of 80's fantastic cinema, Mark Twain found favor only among a cult audience. We invite you to join the cult.