“…simultaneously tragic and inspiring…”
Marwencol is a documentary that I heard about a week ago with the release of the Welcome to Marwen trailer on YouTube. The film is directed by Robert Zemeckis, stars Steve Carell, and looks pretty fucking terrible; but in the comments people were all talking about how it must be Zemeckis’ new shtick to take critically acclaimed documentaries and turn them into mediocre movies. I new about The Walk, but I had never heard of anything resembling the story in the Welcome to Marwen trailer. So I went on the hunt. Finding a copy of Marwencol, the 2010 documentary that details the life of artist Mark Hogancamp, was not an easy task. I eventually had to go down to my local library and borrow a copy becasue its the only way I could get my hands on this documentary that people had been praising heavily since the new Zemeckis trailer was dropped. But luckily my hardships payed off.
Marwencol is about Mark Hogancamp, a man who was severely beaten outside of a bar and suffered brain damage from the attack. Having no memories, limited motor skills, and a yearning for his artistic past, Mark decides to create a small fictional WWII town in his backyard. The town is populated with figures that represent people from his life, and he uses this town, called Marwencol, to vent his frustrations as well as live out various fantasies. He made his own therapy in his words.
The main thing I can say about Marwencol was just how touching the movie was. Hearing all of things Mark went through, as well as seeing how well he was coping was very emotional. He seems like such a nice guy, and the way the movie presented him he very much poet to himself. I also really liked the different struggles that were present in the film, some past some current. We of course got to hear about how Mark overcame the attack and was working towards bettering himself, but there were also a few other messages in there. We got to see how an artist deals with fame, taking something that is so personal to them and presenting it to the world. And we also got Mark pleading with the audience to just be themselves. That’s all he wanted was to be himself, and he got severely beaten becasue of it. Mark used Marwencol as a way to connect with the audience and tell them that who they are is okay, and they shouldn’t try to hide it.
Mark never treated himself like a victim. He understood what happened, and did his best to overcome it. That is one of the most impressive things about his art: how much his humility shines through. Mark creates his art for him. He doesn’t do it in the hopes of one day hitting it big, or to garner sympathy from the art community; he does it becasue he likes to do it. It’s so genuine, and you can tell that he has a legitimate care for every single character and location in Marwencol. In this way the movie is oddly motivational. We are shown Mark, an individual who had everything taken from him in a few minutes, bounce back and create. He didn’t spend his time wallowing in his own self-pity, but instead he decided to do something. He took actions to help himself, and that’s one of the more inspiring things I’ve ever seen.
Overall Marwencol is a documentary that everyone should see. It is simultaneously tragic and inspiring, and the message to not be ashamed of who you are shines through. It was fun, engaging, interesting; really everything that a good documentary should be.
I give Marwencol an A