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The Tragic Story of Mark Hogencamp and the Beginning of his World of Marwencol

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Welcome to Marwen

All photos are in courtesy of Universal Pictures

All photos are in courtesy of Universal Pictures

All photos are in courtesy of Universal Pictures

Jaelyn Hawken, Arts & Entertainment

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*some spoilers*

When a tragic attack toward a man named Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) occurs, he is wiped entirely of his past life. Mark has no memory of his life before his attack, beyond facts and such. He has been made a scrapbook with photos of his life before the attack, along with his array of drawings. He was an incredible artist, but now, he can’t even write his own name. With this scrapbook, he also gets a glimpse of his past marriage, and divorce. He is put on medication to keep him “stable”, that he struggles to take consistently throughout the film. This 2018 film released on December 21st, is based on the true and unfortunate event of Mark Hogencamp, and how he learned to cope.

As devastating as this all sounds, Mark was determined to continue his journey as an artist, but this time around it would be with photos. Mark Hogancamp created his own world called “Marwen”. He brings this wondrous town to life with his dolls for his newest art installation. He uses barbie like dolls to create a world to cope with his accident. He created a character named Cap’n Hogie. The character goes on adventures that relate to his accident, as though it was in World War II. Hogie is caught by Nazis and is forced to surrender. They beat him leaving him with cuts and bruises. But, the “Women of Marwen” come to save the day.

This may be a little confusing but here’s how it goes. Mark was attacked for his love for wearing women’s high heels. He says it gives him and women’s essence that he can’t help but adore. A group of white supremacists at a bar beat Hogencamp for his likings and Mark fails to believe that this occurrence was a hate crime for quite some time. The main attacker had a swastika tattoo on his upper arm, this is what lead to Cap’n Hogie’s attackers being Nazis in Mark’s little town of Marwen.

Now back to the women of Marwen. They are Hogie’s “dames” that he loves and respects. They are named G.I. Julie, Carlala, Roberta, Anna, and Suzette. Oddly enough, all of these women have had a key effect on Mark’s healing since his accident, having resulted in them becoming Hogie’s saviors in his world of Marwen. The dolls engage in romances, shootouts, and other adventures as though they were in a film based during World War II.

We continue to see Mark’s excitement for his women’s heels when we discover his around 300 pairs of high heels. His self-portrayed persona Hogie in Marwen is more often than not wearing a pair of heels as well after his finding of a pair at the beginning of Hogie’s storyline.

At the beginning of the film we meet Mark’s new across the street neighbor, Nicol. Nicol has no negative view on Marks love for heels and actually understands his need for a “dames” essence. Mark quickly feels sparks between the two of them and gets right to making her a doll for Marwen. In Marwen, Nicol and Hogie do everything they can to continue their romantic relationship, without Deja ruining things. Who is Deja? Deja is the eye catching, blue haired antagonist in the film. She is viewed as a witch who has taken over Hogie’s life. But, unlike all of the other dolls, she doesn’t seem to have an equivalent in the real world. Not only is Hogie afraid of her, but Mark is as well. Mark comes off as extremely unstable when he begins to see and hear his dolls in the real world, especially when Deja is around.

Mark is finally convinced to go to his sentencing to give the men who caused him so much pain, exactly what they deserve. Hogencamp shows some severe anxiety when seeing the men who beat him again. Mark is forced to take his pills, that he has become addicted to and continues his life through a doll dressed as a pilot in WWII.

With all of this being said, the film generally received negative reviews from critics. Critics found the living barbie animations to be easily discomforting for viewers. The storyline is viewed as inspirational, but it is also viewed as strange and discomforting as said before. But, none of this stopped viewers from praising Steve Carell’s impressive work in the film, as always, and the incredible visuals.

The town of Marwen (later called Marwencol), was well represented within the film and shows the successes of Mark Hogencamp after his attack and how he learned to cope.

 

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