Unable to pay for therapy after losing his memory from a severe beating, Mark Hogancamp coped by creating a miniature World War II-era European village in his backyard for an alter ego to live.
I was invited down to the Uptown theatre down on 8th Avenue Southwest, which I’d never been to before, for a free guest viewing of this new documentary, Marwencol. Once I’d calmed my ego down about getting the invite, I checked out this as-of-yet-to-me unknown film. It seemed goddamn interesting, and I was not let down. Before I continue, I would like to thank the person who’d invited me down, Brennan Tilley. So, thanks again.
Back in 2000, Mark Hogancamp left a bar and was attacked by five bastards. Hogancamp was in a coma for nine days and had to stay in the hospital for a total of forty. When he was released (because he couldn’t pay them anymore), he had no real memory of anything prior to the beating. He previously had a high skill for drawing, but this, along with many of his more basic motor skills, were obliterated from the repeated blows to the head. Seemingly the only bright point of this mental and physical damage was the sudden absence of his devotion to the drink; he no longer had any desire for alcohol.
Hogancamp’s frustration with his diminished capacity continued until he began creating Marwencol in his backyard. He populated it with dolls, and began creating a long and involved story to go with it. I am finding it difficult to talk too much more of the film simply because I enjoyed it so much, I feel like I need to tell everything about it. I want to talk about the history of Marwencol, its inhabitants, and the battles that have taken place there. This movie is touching and infectious, and I was personally moved because I could relate to Mark Hogancamp’s struggles with reality. This personal touch isn’t needed to enjoy the movie though, if the heaps of awards it’s won and been nominated for are any indication.
Even if you only get a chance to see Mark’s photographs of the goings on in Marwencol, essentially pictures of his psyche even an amateur psychologist could read loud and clear, you can see the talent that this man has. He didn’t even consider what he was doing as art until a chance meeting on one of his walks to town. As stated in the film, his pictures contain no irony, as doll using photographers often do; they are honest and poignant and to put it bluntly, in some case just plain fuckin’ cool.
Looking at the city’s movie listings, it doesn’t look like this movie is playing anywhere but the Uptown, which is both a shame and blessing. It’s a shame because it’s just the one theatre, and this movie deserves so much more exposure. It’s a blessing because after having just now experienced the Uptown, I don’t know if any other theatre could have shown it better. It’s got some features about it that I bet most city folk and young people would probably dislike it or, occasionally worse, ironically enjoy it, but in my mind, these features enhanced the viewing.
Theatre: Storm the Uptown. There’s plenty of seating and the popcorn is deliciously terrible.
Buy: I know I’m buying it when it comes out on DVD. If you like a good documentary about a personal struggle, then you should buy it too.
Rent: Only if you’re some sort of noncommittal dick who doesn’t enjoy owning greatness. Or maybe you’re just broke.
Download: While I do think as many people should see this as possible this is a movie that I implore readers to pay money for. I’ve said similar before but this time I really mean it.
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