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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Marwencol

So at the suggestion of John on his blog I decided to watch Marwencol. In just the first few seconds of the movie I was in awe of what this man had put together. It was amazing and just put me into the time and story he was trying to tell with his dolls/figures. But then it hit me. Anyone outside of the hobby would think this guy had gone off his rocker completely. I mean a grown man playing in his backyard with toys...not too sane, right? But from a person's pov in the hobby, I just found it so mesmerizing and I wanted to check out the actual place so badly.  However, after the first few seconds we learn that the town came to be because of mental issues that the man, named Mark, was facing and dealing with.

The movie explains about how Mark, our main guy, was beaten terribly by 5 teenagers at a bar one night after he left to go home I assume. The teenagers kicked his head to a point where he his face had to be surgically fixed, he was in a coma for 9 days, and he was in the hospital for 40 days until his government assisted insurance gave up and they had to release him. He had to learn from scratch how to live again. Now I don't know what Mark's life was like, but I'm assuming he had some demons he was dealing with as he was an alcoholic and a cross-dresser and wrote and drew scary things in his journals, but no matter what he did or said he did not deserve what happened to him. I believe what brought on the attack was that Mark mentioned in his drunken state that he was a cross-dresser. It bothers me to no end that this was enough to cause those boys to attack him. I have people in my life who say they'd seriously try to hurt or kill a person who was gay or did things not associated with “being a man”, and it bothers and angers me. We are all hear for supposedly this one life. Who the hell am I, or anyone else for that matter, to so say anything about or judge a person for how they choose or do live their lives? If they aren't hurting anybody else or themselves then let them live their lives in peace.

But while I feel sorry for Mark, another part of me feels that his change in life was a weird blessing in disguise. The reason I say this is because he obviously had something he was dealing with before the incident. He was a alcoholic and I feel he was having trouble coming to terms with his cross-dressing. He always assumed he was going to die. He drew scary pictures of himself. And everyone says he wasn't a mean guy but he was a drunk. The “new” Mark never wants to see the person he was before because of this. He doesn't remember who he was before the incident so he has to ask people who he was. And it's kind of like he gets a new start on life by not remembering who he was. He no longer has to be that dark guy he was. But there's always a give with a take. In not remembering who he was he doesn't remember his life. All he has are pictures, a few odd memories, and the words of family and friends. I can't imagine not being able to remember my life and having to start all over like that. But it's bittersweet. On one hand he doesn't have to remember the bitter guy he was, but on the other hand he can't remember his good moments either.  Along with losing his memories he lost his ability to draw because his hand shakes to much.  It’s just so said to see what cruel people took away from him.

Mark's new life mostly consists of putting his life back on track and working on regaining his control over his body again and regaining some form of life. He no longer has therapy or medical help, so his new form of therapy comes in with Marwencol, his little town that he plays out wild and imaginative stories he thinks up and photographs. Mark centers his story about a doll that is his mini-me/alter ego. A lot of the characters in his stories are based off of people he knows and he has dolls that represent them in his town. He's built full scale buildings for them to live out their lives and pays close attention to details. Even down to the wear and tear of his vehicles. He wants them to look like they really do travel miles on end, so when he takes a two mile walk down to the grocery store or into town, he pulls along side him a jeep with several highly armed dolls in it. This wears down the tires to his liking, and gives more of a real feel to his story. But I saw in the documentary that while giving it a real touch with putting in people he knew, it also caused a bit of tension with the people he knew with some of the story lines he choose for his dolls/figures. Some of it was just the story but some of it was him dealing with real life.

During one of his walks he was discovered and this lead to people wanting to know more about Mark and Marwencol. I think this was a great event to happen for Mark as it got him out of his comfort zone and it let other people see his amazing work. But I admit, with this part of the documentary I got a bit bothered by the guy from the magazine. He went on and on about how Mark was very unique in what he did and that other people who took pictures of dolls were doing it to be funny and not serious about it like Mark was. I began to wonder if he didn't think to do some research into this before coming to that conclusion. It just kind of made me feel like that was a slap to the many wonderful artists in the doll community. I know that this documentary was about Mark and what he went through, but it was also about his town and the dolls in it. I don't know, maybe he wouldn't have seemed so odd to the world if the community was mentioned? Was it their way of marketing him better and getting people to open their pockets to him? Don't know. I just think if the community was mentioned he wouldn't have been seen as odd but more sane then people first think he is.

I mean even with the brain damage Mark is still there mentally. He is a bit na├»ve about things, but for the most part he is still there. By the end of documentary I felt that poor Mark was kind of being made fun of in a “pet him on his head and send him to play with his dolls” kind of way. But this is just my pov, so please don't take it to heart. Make your own conclusion on the documentary for yourself. I just feel if the doll community was mentioned that he would have been seen in a better light as well as the doll community. When, I believe it was his friend, said that people preferred seeing real pictures of war then his doll pictures at a gallery about his town it irritated me. And the camera guy always caught the people who were kind of making fun of Mark when it came to his pictures and his story. I don't know if it was to embarrass those people or Mark, but I took it as to embarrass Mark. I don't know why I automatically go to that idea, but it's just the way the thing was filmed that made me feel that way. But it could also be that people were nervous around the camera and that is why they acted that way. It just so sad to see such awesome work and storytelling and see people still just don't get it.

But I loved the ending of the documentary where Mark's mini-me had his own car with armed dolls in it that he pulled through Marwencol, and he had his own Marwencol in that town as well that he built on and photographed. It just made me smile that he went there with his town. It's his way of living in Marwencol. I think Mark is just awesome, and I'm glad that he is putting his work up online on what seems to be a sort of blog like gallery.

So all in all, I found this documentary very interesting. I do feel sad for Mark because he's so lonely and is still dealing with the pain he went through with the attack. I do hope his life changes and he finds a lovely lady to be his Anna. Maybe he needs to find a fellow doll lover who gets it. I'd like to thank John again for mentioning Marwencol on his blog. It was an interesting watch and I loved learning about Mark and his amazing town. If you are interested in watching Marwencol you can either check out John's blog here for a download link or watch the streaming of it here. Enjoy. :-)

That's all for this post people. I have a couple more I still have waiting to post. Just keep forgetting about them because I get busy with other things. So many things to catch up on and so little time. Ahhh. Ok, gonna go and try to get up one or two more posts for you. Talk to you all soon, be good until then. :-)

Loves ya,
Mouse

3 comments:

  1. I watched the movie about a week ago on PBS. It was wonderful all around for me. The attack itself was awful, but out of that tradgedy he has built a life that brings him so much joy. Yes he still deals with brain damage, but his work put me to shame, and I don't have brain damage. So it further confirmed that we can do anything we put our minds, or better yet, our hearts to. NO LIMITATIONS! I wouldn't suspect that the camera man would know anything about the doll community. If I wasn't in it myself, I would be amazed that such a community even exist. It would have been nice for him to do an epilogue at the end where he had done a little more research about the doll community and others who use dolls for therapy, etc.

    I am really glad he did include the few negative comments he did. That is just the reality of it all. Not everyone will get it, no matter how well it is explained. I am a little surprised there weren't more negative comments included and explored. The cross dressing was interesting. I am very familiar with the gay community, but I realised I know very little about cross dressing. After seeing this, I wanted to know more. I was happy that even with all the brain damage and the stuff that he couldn't remember, he remembered how good he felt wearing ladies shoes. Proves that you can't beat something out of a person, just because you don't agree with, no matter how hard you try. Judge not, least you be judged. Words to live by.

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  2. I watched this over the weekend, and my mind is still processing some of it. Like you, I feel he got disrespected by the artist enclave that 'discovered' him - I kept thinking they wanted the never-before-seen pristine quality of his photographs, they didn't want Mark and all he brought with him. Sorry, guys - when you discover someone's talents, you're discovering a person, not just what you can use.

    The cross-dressing thing kinda bugged me - because I felt it was a bit too intimate. It was as if I was seeing this guy laid bare to the bone, with no return expected on my part. I ended up feeling off balance, wanting to return to his doll town, even though I was fascinated by Mark. I felt like he needed to keep some aspects of his life personal, but that's just me.

    I would have loved to hear more stories from the doll town, m'self. Wouldn't it be great if he did something like a photographic comic book in Marwencol ? I'd love it !

    It's available on Netflix streaming now, and very much worth your time, if anyone's on the fence about seeing it. I'd love to go to his yard and just *look*. I think most any doll fan would feel the same by the end of this film !

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  3. Without the crossdressing, there's no Marwencol. I was initially thrown by the cross dressing because I missed the first part of the movie that discusses why he got beat by the 5 guys. It was all because of the cross dressing. That's why it was critical to being a part of the movie.

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