Ken Burns Classroom

Ken Burns Films

Mark Twain

Portrait of Mark Twain, 1907
Portrait of Mark Twain, 1907. Source: A.F. Bradley.

Ernest Hemingway said, “All of American literature began with Huck Finn.” And what he’s talking about is someone with the courage—the moral, the artistic, the social courage—to grasp this great underlying problem of American life: race.
—Ken Burns

I think he would make an interesting film even if he weren’t one of our greatest writers. He saw everything that the 19th century in America had to offer. Riverboat pilot, the hey day of riverboats, crossed the West on a stagecoach, was there at the big booms of the mining in Nevada.
—Dayton Duncan

Nearly three years in the making and drawing from 63 hours of material, thousands of archival photographs and nearly 20 interviews with top writers and scholars, Mark Twain is the story of Twain’s extraordinary life-full of rollicking adventure, stupendous success and crushing defeat, hilarious comedy and almost unbearable tragedy. Told primarily through the words of Twain himself, viewers of all ages will be personally introduced to this compelling yet contradictory genius, who said with some justification, “I am not an American, I am the American.”