Marwencol

Yesterday I watched the documentary “Marwencol.” It follows the story of Mark Hogancamp, a man who was brutally attacked by five men outside of a bar. The attack nearly killed him–it left him in a coma for days and in the hospital for over a month. As a result of this act of violence, Mark suffered severe brain damage, and he could remember very little about his life before the incident. As his own personal form of therapy (and when he could no longer afford professional, “proper” therapy), he creates a miniature world named Marwencol, comprised of modified GI Joes and Barbie dolls, outside of his home. It takes on a World War II theme, and many of its inhabitants are modeled after people he knows in his own life. Mark creates elaborate, detailed landscapes–and stories to go along with them. He documents his work with a small, 35mm camera.

I found “Marwencol” fascinating. I felt such empathy for Mark and his situation. His struggle to adapt to the real world was difficult to watch, but I was truly impressed by his determination not to give up on life. While he admits that he prefers his “fantasy” world to what else is out there, I respected his choice and, ultimately, his work of art. It left me questioning how I would cope with a new life if I suddenly could not recall everything I’ve experienced and all the people I’ve known.

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