Marwencol - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Marwencol Reviews

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May 21, 2016
What a beautiful and inspiring movie. What a wonderful guy with a wonderful dream.
½ April 28, 2016
In this fascinating documentary, after being attacked by five men and left in a coma for nine days, a man wakes up with brain damage and must learn everything all over again. Eventually he created his own form of therapy by creating his own fictional town in his backyard and populating with GI Joes and Barbies and creating a long running story-line and taking lots of photographs of the dolls. The way he sort of unintentionally created art just to deal with his psychological issues after a severe attack (and used violence with the dolls to avoid lashing out in real life) is wonderful....and the revelations about who Mark is are really surprising to see unfold.
½ October 12, 2015
Um homem que brinca com bonecos para superar um trauma terrível. Uma história tocante.
October 20, 2014
Interesting documentary.
½ October 6, 2014
Interesting if it were 10 minutes. But, 83 minutes and it becomes long winded.
September 29, 2014
One of the best films I've ever seen.
May 27, 2014
Touching and mesmerizing!
½ May 23, 2014
Maybe is my love of action figures but i could totally relate to this guy. I would spend hours as a kid doing the same thing. This film does a good job showing the dramatic effects that a brain injury can have on a person, not just how it hurts them but how it changes who they are. I don't think this guy is an artist but i am jealous he has the free time to do this. This movie has some sad moments and throws you quite the curve ball 2/3 of the way though.
½ December 1, 2013
Can be taken in on a few different levels, depending on how deep you feel at the moment. You can revel in the weird little dioramas being built and ignore the rest, or you can ponder deeply about societal norms and stuff. Whatever, I just really liked the doll town because I are a stupid!
December 1, 2013
An interesting documentary that turns out to be quite thought-provoking and moving as well.
½ November 17, 2013
it's strange and a bit sad in a way however what a great artist he is. But overall, it was a bit weird for me.
November 12, 2013
Is it art? heck yeah, and the best part is that Mark doesn't even know what he's doing is art. Once an artist always an artist, it doesn't matter if you've forgotten everything you ever learn through the senseless violent act.
August 14, 2013
The film explores the way the mind deals with tragedy, and it is absolutely fascinating...I could not get enough!
June 10, 2013
I loved marwencol! It's an awesome town! Makes you want to live in it for a moment :D
April 15, 2013
The very first thing that one notices about Mark Hogancamp are his eyes. They are small and look a little tired, as if he just woke up from a long sleep. There is no distance in his eyes, they don't seem to contain memories. Rather, they seem very much focused on the present. When he speaks he has a sweet-natured voice, solemn and intelligent. There is no regret in his demeanor despite his age which I range at about somewhere in his mid-40s.

The manner in which Hogancamp carries himself is specifically rooted in an incident that changed his life. On April 8, 2000, he was leaving a bar when he was attacked by five men who beat him almost to death. The men were arrested and Hogancamp spent nine days in a coma and forty days in the hospital. When he woke up, he had severe brain damage and most of his memory was gone. Years after his incident, his brain is still a little mushy. He works a quiet job at a bar, sweeping up.

The documentary Marwencol settles firmly on Hogancamp who says that due to his injury he has no real memories, only flashes of memory, like snapshots. He knows of his past because of diary entries written before the attack. He reads them, but doesn't recognize the person who wrote them. He knows that that man was an alcoholic, who was bitter and angry, but he also knows that he had an artistic talent. He shows us sketches that are not out of the ordinary. After the attack, he could no longer draw because his hands shook too much.

He could not afford therapy, so he made his own. In his back yard, he created the tiny, fictional town of Marwencol, a Belgian World War II-era town made of dolls and small buildings. His dolls represent people in his life. His own alter-ego is a hero-type that has a head the looks a little like Harrison Ford. His mother's alter-ego has a head that came from a Pussy Galore doll. His former girlfriend is represented by a Barbie doll. He collects his dolls and studies them, trying to see who they could represent. When he puts his dolls inside the model, they don't just stand stiffly, but they seem modulated as if frozen in a moment of action.

Marwencol becomes Hogancamp's entire world. He creates each character down to the most finite detail, including a backstory. He tells us the stories of what goes on in Marwencol, not as play acting but as if it is really happening. He tells about how his alter-ego wandered into the town and settled down to open a bar. No one is allowed to fight in Marwencol, the only fights are staged catfights inside the bar. Then the Nazi's showed up and he corralled all of the citizenry into his bar while the some of the fooksoldiers kick down doors trying to find the bar. Hogancamp's employer Rose is stunned to find that her alter-ego was killed by the Nazis because she wouldn't talk.

What becomes apparent as he tells the story is that Hogancamp isn't just playing with dolls, he is finding a manner in which to deal with his trauma. His alter-ego in Marwencol, is stripped and beaten by the SS just as he was in real life. He cannot remember the attack, he just feeds off of information from his assailant's testimony and from what he has been told. The play acting is a manner in which he can piece that moment together and deal with it on a realistic level.

It is hard to really describe what makes Marwencol really special. It is a quiet, tenderly beautiful story of a man who stepped back from the edge of a near-fatal incident and creates his own therapy through art. The photos he takes of his tiny town are crisp and beautiful (I have featured some of them below). The characters seem alive even though his subjects are immobile. He modulates every single tiny detail perfectly. It is a futile exercise in trying to understand the effect this movie has on you once you let yourself be carried away by Hogancamp's imagination. He takes us so solidly and so convincingly into his tiny man-made world that, after a while, we forget that we are simply looking at dolls. It sounds strange, but I felt I got to know the people Marwencol so well that when one of the women in town left her boyfriend for another man, I felt a little sad.
April 14, 2013
In the Realms of the Unreal, with a living artist. Exit Through the Gift Shop without the commercial success. An alcoholic is cured after a brutal beating severely damages his brain. He turns to doll therapy to cope with his situation. "Marwencol provides a deeply empathetic view of loneliness and powerful evidence of art as an outlet." Interesting and tragic, outsider art fans should dig it.
April 6, 2013
Interesting documentary about a man with traumatic Brain injury and his journey to deal with his PTSD and the various feelings he encounters due to his injury. It is compelling and amazing at the world this man creates. The world is during WW2 and he is the hero. All using dolls. His story is fascinating and inspiring. Everyone should see this film.
½ April 5, 2013
This documentary follows one man's journey. It flows from sad to inspiring while taking a few crazy twists along the way. But his unique mind completely enthralled me to the point that I watched this back-to-back times. I can see why he enjoys his world so much
½ March 21, 2013
Very unusual documentary. A man loses his memory after being savagely attacked, and later as a form of both mental and physical therapy builds in his yard this 1/6-scale Belgium town set during WWII, complete with GI Joes and barbies and SS soldiers. It has a church, a bar and there is a GI Joe character that is him and he marries another doll character. He takes pictures of all these dolls doing different things and there are events and he creates stories about everything, with a lot of the main characters based on people he knows. Fascinating.
March 11, 2013
Every 5 years or so I get obsessed with something this weird.
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