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Attempting to describe The Adventures of Mark Twain in any sane fashion is probably an exercise in futility. But what the heck. We'll give in a shot.
First of all, discard any historical knowledge you might have of Samuel Clemens, because in this world, he doesn't exist. But his nom de plume, Mark Twain, is real, and so are Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher. Yeah, we know. Just roll with it. In this world, Mark Twain also has a Cool Steampunk Airship, which he intends to ride into outer space to chase Halley's comet. Tom, Huck, and Becky catch word of his balloon and sneak onboard, joining Mr. Twain on a journey beyond the stratosphere to chase the comet. How do they pass time onboard the airship? By telling (and living) stories, of course. Famous Mark Twain stories. Like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. (We know. Again.) And The Diary of Adam and Eve. And The Mysterious Stranger.
This 1985 movie is known for being absolutely gorgeously rendered in Claymation, and for being creepy as hell. Literally. It's sometimes considered a "children's movie," but this isn't strictly the case -- it's probably too scary for some kids, but anyone who likes animation will probably enjoy the lush visuals. All in all, it's a fascinating and loving Deconstruction of the man and a number of his stories -- particularly his later ones which caused many to label him a Nietzsche Wannabe.
This film contains examples of:
- Adam and Eve Plot: ...The Diary of Adam of Eve.
- Adaptation Distillation: The short based on The Mysterious Stranger manages to cram most of the essentials into 5 minutes of film, much to the terror of its audience.
- Animated Armor: The Mysterious Stranger is depicted as an empty suit of red plate armor, holding an animate masquerade-style mask on a stick where its head should be.
- Baby Planet: The angel Satan dwells on one made of clay (of course).
- Big Lipped Alligator Movie: When you get down to it, this movie is essentially a Framing Device story strung together by Big Lipped Alligator Moments of varying length. The Mysterious Stranger segment is probably the worst offender. Still amusing, though.
- Call Back: At the very end of the movie, Tom gives Becky the heart shaped leaf from Paradise hidden inside Adams diary, that Adam had saved and given to Eve at the end of their life as a last token of his love. And Huck found Adams GrouchoMarx Glasses.
- Cool Airship: As in, "it runs on the Rule of Cool;" one travels between decks via the "Indexivator", which accesses the two riverboat-esque "main" and "hurricane" decks, Twain's lounge -- and interactive versions of Twain's writings.
- Cool Gate: Twain's airship is in possession of such a door, which leads into all his stories and the different parts of the ship.
- Deadpan Snarker: True to real life, Twain is a fount of endless quips both on Tom and Huck's antics and on human nature.
- Most of those quips are taken from real life - the screenplay was written by Vinton's wife, a Mark Twain scholar.
- Death Seeker: Mark Twain.
- Died Happily Ever After: Twain rejoins his dark side and the two fade into light, becoming part of Halley's Comet! Now if that isn't a cool way to go out, nothing is.
- Evil Twin: "Dark Twain" is constantly stalking around the ship, until they finally meet up with the comet. However, in a case of Dark Is Not Evil, Dark Twain isnt so much evil as melancholy and weary of life, and as the regular Twain notes, he's not whole without him.
- Foregone Conclusion: It's a fairly famous bit of trivia that Mark Twain "came in with Halley's Comet, and went out with it." So it's no surprise what happens to him at the end of the movie.
- Fluffy Cloud Heaven: Twain's Deconstruction of it.
Captain Stormfield: "I begin to see that a man's got to be in his own Heaven to be happy."
- And even then things are confusing.
- Fully-Clothed Nudity: Adam and Eve have underwear. After Adam eats the apple, he suddenly realizes this and covers up.
- Girlish Pigtails: Becky.
- Grotesque Gallery: The alien Fluffy Cloud Heaven Capt. Stormfield accidentally winds up in.
- Humans Are Bastards: Satan (and by extension Mark Twain's dark side) is under this impression.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: See "Cool Airship", above.
- Leitmotif: The comet has one. It even gets an 80's-tastic synth-heavy Epic Reprise at the end.
- Market-Based Title: Called Comet Quest in the UK. Perhaps it's because Mark Twain doesn't hold quite the same, seminal place in the UK mindset as he does in the American one, being a distinctly American author.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "What's your name?" "Satan"
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nice job sabotaging it, Tom Sawyer.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Huck's frog, Homer.
- Only Sane Man: Poor Becky Thatcher...
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Some details of Samuel Clemens' historical life do make it in to the film, and there is one scene in which he quietly mourns for his departed wife.
Becky Thatcher: "That's really why you want to meet up with the comet, isn't it, Mr. Twain?"
- A portrait of Twain and his wife shown just after the poignant ending of the "Diary of Adam and Eve" segment adds additional poignancy by revealing Twain's wife is a dead ringer for the elderly Eve.
- Samuel Clemens was born in the Halley's Comet year 1835, and died in the Halley's Comet year 1910. This film was released in the next Halley's Comet year 1985, when Clemens would have been 150 years old. In the film's story, Mark Twain said that if he missed Halley's Comet, he'd have to wait until he was 150 (in 1985) to catch the comet again.
- Satan is The Mysterious Stranger.
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: the world of The Mysterious Stranger aka Satan.
- Steampunk: The airship.
- Sugar Bowl: The Garden of Eden in the "Diary of Adam and Eve" segments.
- Tagalong Kid: All three of the kids sneak aboard the airship.
- That Reminds Me Of A Story
- Verbal Tic: Tom keeps saying "aeronort" instead of "aeronaut".
- What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: Much like Watership Down, children who aren't easily disturbed will find a lot to like here. However, attempt to show it to most kids, and you'd better be prepared to pay for those therapy bills later in life.
- What The Hell Angel?: During The Mysterious Stranger sequence, Huck's not afraid to call it as he sees it.
- The Wonka: Mark Twain
- Also, Mark Twain opening the gate to Injun Joes lair and almost gets Huck killed by him, but closes the door in time for Joes knife to get stuck in it, seemingly just to torture the kids. Its Dark Twain, not the real Twain