If going on adventures with Tom Sawyer was one of your childhood dreams, let this video crush your eight-year-old fantasies.
This 1985 claymation clip is part of an animated film called The Adventures of Mark Twain, directed by Will Vinton. The excerpt is an adaptation of The Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain’s last unfinished novel that follows the chronicles of No. 44, or Satan. Characterized by its heavy social critique, the novel zeroes in on the hypocrisy of religion and the futility of human existence. Cheery!
The excerpt shows Twain take Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, and Becky Thatcher to meet a mysterious stranger who turns out to be Satan. Following the fallen angel, the three children enter a levitating land that seems to have broken off from a planet. At first, Satan seems friendly and calm, producing the children’s favorite fruit (Becky’s is, of course, the apple). But his mask constantly morphs and twitches, foreshadowing the lurking of something underneath.
As the story progresses, he invites them to create a land of living clay people. Though innocent and fun in the beginning, this quickly spirals into a horrific ending where Satan shows his true form and the audience is left to ponder anguishing philosophical questions.
We won’t tell you what happens to the clay people. For that, you’ll have to watch the video. We will, however, leave you in this Halloween with a harrowing thought pronounced by Satan:
“Life itself is only a vision, a dream. Nothing exists save empty space. And you… and you are but a thought.”
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