The Films of 2011 – #6 Marwencol
First off, I should mention that this is one of those points in time where we veer into “Ah Yes, but is that a 2011 Film?” territory . . Thanks to the villainy of global release schedules, this can often colour opinions or lists – personally, one of the first films I saw in 2011 was Black Swan, but i would choose to count it as a 2010 release. Please let’s not get caught up in this – some of you are strict about these sorts of things, I wish you well, but my own personal rules have a certain amount of elasticity. Which brings us to Maerwencol. Listed as an Autumnal favourite in American Film Festival circuits, I had no awareness of the film until @brendonconnelly on twitter happened to mention that it was airing on UK television on More 4.. Oddly enough renamed to “Village Of The Dolls”. So, technically, it premiered in the UK on 19th April 2011, and hence is eligible for my 2011 list. Pedants, I have submitted my evidence!
It has been a particularly strong year for documentaries, and inevitably I have only managed to see a minor fraction of the ones my best intentions would have had me see: Senna and TT3D provided blockbusting, heart-wrenching action in the world of hi-octane motor sports, Countdown to Zero scared the crap out of me, and I caught up with The Parking Lot Movie, Into Eternity, & Waking Sleeping Beauty amongst others. To me though, none of these films managed to balance profundity, power, beauty, and raw talent with as deft as touch as Marwencol.
Focussing on Marc Hogancamp, the film tells of this unassuming, gentle man who is brain damaged after being severely beaten in a bar brawl- 9 days in a coma and 40 days in hospital leaves Marc lacking in memories and capabilities, and so (for whatever reason) he assuages the seeming futility & boredom of his existence by creating some imaginary friends. The friends in question however are not mere figments of Marc’s delusions: he hand paints scaled down army dolls (Action Men, if you will) and has built an entire Second World War-era town (to scale) in his back yard. It slowly comes to light that this reclusive talent has projected his own hopes, dreams, fears, anxieties, and even demons into the cast & population of the town, weaving elaborate narratives into the nuanced & detailed vignettes. Hogancamp photographs & documents these scenes, and in fact continues to do so on his website.
Marc’s artistic talent is one that is genuinely unique, his attention to detail is borne out in his work, and several stretches of the film are presented as lifelike picture-book stories that occur in this bizarre little town.
Every good narrative deserves a few twists, so I shan’t ruin them and divulge here, suffice to say that Marc goes on a journey, both physically & emotionally, and it makes for supremely compelling viewing.
You can watch the trailer here:
and there is plenty of info on the official site Here on how to get or watch a copy. (UK viewers can get it on itunes I think – assuming you didn’t record it off More 4)
Please come back at the same time tomorrow to see my pick for Film #5 of 2011. Assuming that you don’t have something in your eye, of course.
The Clockwork Shorts 2011 retrospective can be browsed for your pleasure right HERE