Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Marwencol. 2010

Deeply moving documentary about a man Mark Hogencamp who one night when leaving a bar in his upstate New York town is beaten up by 5 cowards, and is thrown into a coma for 9 days and a hospital stay of 40 days. His memory is pretty much gone, but he survives and begins his own form of therapy by making up and building in his yard an imaginary town in Belgium (the title of the film) which is a combination of his first name and the names of two women who he has crushes on. The time for his tableau non vivant is World War II and he peoples the town with action figure and Barbie dolls and names some after friends and relatives which he then places in provocative and sometimes violent scenes and then photographs them. Mark is a sweet and gentle soul, who was alcoholic before his beating and has lost all fondness for the booze but still has a strong lifelong inclination for cross dressing which might have been the reason for his beating; it seems that upstate bigots don’t care for guys who like to get dressed in woman’s clothes. All indications given is that Mark is straight, loves women, but likes wearing high heels and an occasional dress as he goes about playing with his dolls and photographing them. I was very taken with this self-taught very outsider artist and his make believe worlds, and like any good fairy tale it ends on a happy note with Mark being discovered and having a show in a New York City gallery where at the opening he happily dons a pair of heels and is gleefully and figuratively embraced by the gallery patrons.


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