Critic Consensus: Inspiring and fascinating, Marwencol depicts its subject with heartfelt tenderness, raising poignant questions about art and personal tragedy along the way.
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Critic Reviews for Marwencol
Simultaneously hypnotic and unnerving, it asks some rather uncomfortable questions about the nature of art and the potential and limits of self-healing.
Director Jeff Malmberg sees something in Hogancamp that he wants all of us to see, an imperfect human scarred by horrific trauma who nonetheless finds a reason to live.
Hogancamp's alliance with director Jeff Malmberg in this artful and poignant film marks a victory in the war against the self.
A fine, delicately nuanced portrait of an artist compelled by mysterious forces to create something utterly unique.
If you have even a passing interest in outsider art, you owe it to yourself to see "Marwencol."
Audience Reviews for Marwencol
"Marwencol" is an intriguing documentary about an intriguing individual, Mark Hogancamp. On a general level, it is concerned with identity, as after having been savagely beaten outside of a bar in Kingston, NY, that leaves him in a coma for nine days and requiring facial reconstruction surgery, he suffers from brain damage that causes a loss of memory which returns in brief flashes.(The most unsettling and scariest parts of the film are of him walking along narrow country roads.) In time, he learns he used to be self-destructive in his heavy drinking which he puts a stop to and is definitely surprised at the amount of women's shoes he owns. Mark does not last long in formal therapy. And no longer able to draw like he used to, he constructs a lovingly detailed reconstruction of a Belgian village from World War II, 'Marwencol,' populated by action figures and Barbie dolls, in which he casts himself as the main hero, simultaneously a man of action and a bartender who no longer drinks like, as he says, Sam Malone.(Which I never saw the logic of, but whatever.) And, yes, of course, there is a time machine. This allows him to work out his frustrations and fantasies safely(especially involving cat fights) and his friends and co-workers feel it an honor to also be represented. So, in the end, you have acceptance.
"When his world was stolen, Mark Hogancamp made a world of his own." After a vicious attacks leaves him brain-damaged and broke, Mark Hogancamp seeks recovery in "Marwencol", a 1/6th scale World War II-era town he creates in his backyard.
More than a simple documentary about an artform, Marwencol digs deep into the psyche and troubled past of the creator, Mark Hogencamp. Beaten by five men and left brain damaged, Mark had to relearn everything about his own life all over again. Because he has little money, Mark's various physical and psychological therapies are cut off after a short amount of time. In his desperation to learn about himself, he begins developing a town called Marwencol, inhabited by Barbies, GI Joes, and various other dolls. Each doll is the "alter-ego" of someone in Mark's life, including his mother, ex-wife, and co-workers. Over time the town mirrors events in his own life, or least the way he wants his life to be. In his town he's found true love, fights Nazis, and runs a bar/cat fighting club. Through the process of putting this together, Mark is forced to face his years of alcoholism, and fetish for women's shoes, which had led to his original attack. Moving, and full of empathetic scenes, Marwencol is as close to heartbreaking as humanly possible.
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