What movie was that...?

02 May 2011

Marwencol

directed by Jeff Malmberg

I posted a trailer last year for a film that I was dying to see, a documentary about a man traumatized from a beating that left him comatose for 9 days. The trailer for that documentary, titled Marwencol, moved me in a very visceral way, and the doc in its entirety is a thing I haven’t come across in some time: a powerful, mesmerizing and very moving glimpse into the world of a true artist. Mark Hogancamp, who had to start from scratch after waking from the coma that erased much of his former self, went through physical and psychological therapy in order to regain what had been lost, relearning how to write and walk. When he was unable to continue traditional therapy, Mark developed his unique regimentation designed to help his fine motor skills and his most important asset, his imagination. The result is Marwencol, a 1/6 scale Belgian town at the height of WWII, home to soldiers and civilians who have carved out a precarious existence ever shadowed by the threat of the SS. American soldiers live alongside French, British, and even non SS German soldiers, spending much of their time in Hogancamp’s bar, The Ruined Stocking. I will say no more about the doc’s arc, but the most magical, haunting and genuine element of this film is Mark himself, working out his demons, his frustrations and his deepest desires through his medium of choice. His art is true blue, and as human portrait Mark’s story is one at once familiar, dear, and foreign. Sometimes, all you need to do as a documentarian is turn on the camera and try to keep up, though Malmberg shows that he knows his way around a camera and an editing room. Malmberg’s resume may look less than illustrious (his most notable endeavor was editing The Hottie and the Nottie, ugh), but hey, we all have bills to pay. If the Academy had its druthers, Marwencol would have been up for Best Documentary last year.

7 comments:

  1. This does seem interesting, but I am not usually one for documentaries, so I probably won't get to it unless I catch it on television or something. Great review though!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Documentaries can be tricky, as there are a lot of really dry, really poorly made docs that fall under the dreaded title of "informative," or even worse "educational." I joke, but I can understand when someone says they can't get into documentaries. A lot of the docs I review here are films that stand on their own merits, films that don't escape the traditional parameters of what a quality film should be simply because they are documentaries. If you have 82 minutes or so, it is streaming on Netflix "watch instantly."

    ReplyDelete
  3. A stunning documentary. I gave it 10/10, and have told everybody close to me all about it. Luickily, it has now been shown on TV over here in Britain.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree. Sometimes films like this come along, films that strike a very elemental, very dear place inside you. Marwencol is such a film. Thanks for the comments, Colin!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh really? I'll look for it then. Thanks for the follow, by the way. Come back and see me if you'd like!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I absolutely adore documentaries at the best of times (although the talking-head variety gets a bit tedious after a while) but this one was just so...emotional and existential, in a way. Anyone reading this site, please: watch this movie (and then watch Dear Zachary afterwards)

    ReplyDelete
  7. After such a strong recommendation how can I not watch Marwencol! although after reading Colin's comment I'm now kicking myself for missing it when it was shown on British tv.

    ReplyDelete

What do you think?