To my mind, Twain is the inspiration for Mud as Dave Van Ronk was for Inside Llewyn Davis. We can all nitpick the differences between Mud and the Twain River Boys books, but ultimately, it's a feeling that Nichols is after, the same way the Coen Bros. tried to capture mid-winter Greenwich Village in the early 60s, at the moment before Bob Dylan's emergence changed that scene.
And if you've seen Nichols' previous film, Take Shelter, you know he's good at creating atmosphere (in that film, both senses of the word). That he cites Terrence Malick in the piece in The Guardian is a real tip-off, for those of you who've seen and admired his work. Nichols wants you to feel the current of the river and smell that debris it washes up. Also, Mud is about outcasts and misfits: the title characters, both boys, the Sam Shepard character--and what that means in a small (and in some ways small-minded) community.
I would like to think Twain would be intrigued by the film, though he might be tempted have one of his copyright fits over it, too.
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From: Mark Twain Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Barbara Schmidt
Sent: Tuesday, January 07, 2014 4:59 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Mud--homage to Twain
When this film first came out, there were a number of reviews which mentioned the Mark Twain influence. Director Jeff Nichols acknowledge Twain's influence on his work in at least one interview and a number of media outlets picked up on it. One such story still currently online is from The Guardian of May 2, 2013 at: