Marwencol a mentally fascinating journey of self-discovery
 

Seattle Gay News
Mobile Edition
rss: SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml



SGN ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT SECTION

SGN Mobile Front Page



MOVIE REVIEWS
CALENDAR
NORTHWEST NEWS CALENDAR
CLASSIFIED

click here to go to the main SGN website

 

posted Friday, November 26, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 48

Marwencol a mentally fascinating journey of self-discovery
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

Marwencol
Opening November 26


In April of 2000, Mark Hogancamp was assaulted outside a Kingston, NY bar by five men. They pummeled him to the brink of death, leaving him so disfigured even his own mother didn't recognize him. After 40 days in a coma Mark awoke to discover he had little to no memory of his previous life, and unable to afford continuing care or physical and emotional therapy he was discharged and sent home to fend for himself.

In order to help himself retain some semblance of sanity and to facilitate recovery, Mark builds Marwencol, a 1/6 scale WWII-era town he populates with Barbie Dolls and G.I. Joes that he meticulously clothes and reengineers to look like people from his life. As the world he has created begins to grow, he starts telling intricate stories using his characters set during the war but also somewhat consciously based upon his own frazzled memories about things before, during, and after his attack. He takes pictures of these tales, creating a massive visual history of a place and time blossoming from his own weary, yet vivid, imagination.

That's only the tip of the iceberg as far as Jeff Malmberg's Marwencol is concerned. The 2010 Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle award-winner for Best Documentary, this intricate and intimate little film is a glorious and thought-provoking journey through one man's fractured psyche. It is a human drama and a human mystery all at the same time, as who Mark Hogancamp is and what he is doing with his life is a breathless enigma only Mark himself can ever hope to answer.

If anything, the movie is a boon to art therapists. There is something wholly personal about what the act of creation can unlock, what secrets it might unintentionally uncover. For Mark, his creative expressionism involving dolls and the world he manufactures for them is the key to helping him recover from an event too deplorable to imagine. What was done to him - and for the apparent reasons disclosed near the end of the picture - is of striking inhumanity. The level of intolerance shown by his attackers another reason why national hate crime laws that cover everyone no matter what race, nationality, religion, creed, sexual orientation, or gender expression are of such import.

Malmberg goes over everything with a delicate and astonishing touch. He inserts himself into Mark's life with restraint, never pushing things to an extent you feel like harm is being done, but also finding a way to ask questions that could end up doing his subject a modicum of good. This is a documentary where the filmmaker can't help but become a part of the story, and for once that's a plus and not a minus, the two engaging in a cathartic friendship that's honest and heartwarming.

There is plenty here for audiences to mull over. From a strictly artistic perspective, Mark's creations end up speaking loudly for themselves. From the standpoint of the importance of access to mental health care for people in need, there is much in the way of food for thought. But for me, it is the human drama of one man tackling his own injustice through a lens distinctly of his own design that is the most important. Marwencol is a journey into the subconscious of a man who doesn't always know just how loudly he is speaking, and as such it is this story of triumph - a story that continues to evolve - that makes the film an emotionally stunning achievement worthy of acclaim.



next story
Burlesque oozes with musical cheese
------------------------------
New documentary films lives of Gay academy grads
------------------------------
Amy Sedaris talks ?Queers and crafts
------------------------------
Armistead Maupin brings more Tales to our city
------------------------------
Clay Aiken backs anti-bullying legislation
------------------------------
A Dyke About town: Taj Mahal a consummate performer
------------------------------
The Dandy Warhols' Mia McCabe cites M.I.A, pulled pork, and ?Gay community as faves
------------------------------
Hollow Lughnasa leaves audience unaffected
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Excellent actors wasted in sluggish Vestal Virgins
------------------------------
Marwencol a mentally fascinating journey of self-discovery
------------------------------

------------------------------
Sensational Tangled lets down its hair
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Letters
------------------------------
Grammy nominations: Year of the GaGa to be capped with award gold
------------------------------
Music makes a hip holiday gift
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Holiday Events Calendar
------------------------------
Gay icon releases new Christmas album and opens up about AIDS pandemic, Perez Hilton's 'vicious diatribes,' and her own ?sweet dreams for the world
------------------------------

------------------------------
Dina Martina - Comedian delights, disturbs this season
------------------------------
Holiday albums hit the shelves alongside Elton and Liza
------------------------------
Seattle favorite Anne Allgood sings with holiday cheer in A Christmas Story
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 36 YEARS!