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Mark Twain In Motion: Only Know Footage of Irascible Author Restored

Samuel Clemens, known more readily to most people as Mark Twain, has had a resurgence in popularity this year.

Perhaps one reason behind the famously sardonic author’s return to the pop culture spotlight is the fact that the Mark Twain House celebrated its 140th anniversary in September. In addition, there are those looking to the astute writer’s works as sources of inspiration regarding current events. Case in point: some of Twain’s writings about war have been looked to again for insight into the nature of counterinsurgency. It seems that Twain, a staunch anti-imperialist, would advise modern America to avoid meddling in the affairs of other nations.

Then there’s the news, as reported by io9, that the only known footage of Mark Twain has been digitally restored. The film was originally shot by the Thomas Edison Company in 1909, when Twain was around 74 years old. The footage has been given new life by a company called TFG Film & Tape.

You can watch the restored Mark Twain footage on YouTube. It depicts the author strolling the grounds of his Connecticut-based mansion, called Stormfield, as he puffs on a cigar. It also shows Twain enjoying the company of his daughters, Clara and Jean.

TFG Film & Tape said the following about the details of the restoration process.

“The image has been flipped left to right to correct the camera-to-subject orientation. It has had its speed corrected from the camera frame rate of the day. The detail has been enhanced dramatically bringing out visuals never before seen. The fluctuations in the exposure have been reduced markedly making the image much more pleasing to watch.”

In other news just in time for the Halloween season, an exhibit will be opening at the Mark Twain House on October 10 and will be entitled “Spiritualism, Seances and Sam.” Twain lived through the spiritualism movement that thrived in the 19th century. The exhibit will explore the author’s complicated relationship with the matter of a spirit world. During his life, Twain seemed to swing between cynicism and belief when it came to the existence of an afterlife. His conflict may have originated from the fact that one of his daughters, Suzy, died at the age of 24, and the writer may have been therefore unwilling to let go of the hope that he would see her again.

Did you know that there was footage of Mark Twain in existence?

[Image via The Nation]