Lisa Talks About Marwencol and What the Film Meant to Her

Those have been following know the film Marwencol has captured the imagination of a lot of the people in the Doll Collecting community, including those of us that chat dolls on #dollchat twice a week on Twitter (Sundays 2pm, Tuesdays 9pm EST). So much so we’ve organized a Mark Hogancamp donation of dolls, tools and materials.up until May 15. One of the great things about the film (and Mark) is that it sparked some very deep reflections from Doll collectors on the imagination and personhood. Charlie Riley of Dolls Behaving Badly wrote a great personal post on Marwencol, and now Lisa Donnelly has posted with great thought on the film and Mark. Below is an excerpt but go to her blog and read the entire article. And remember there is still time to join the Marwencol drive. If nothing else, if you are a doll collector it is a film to see.


Marwencol. It’s a real village; its inhabitants the dolls that Mark Hogancamp animates with paint and
clothes and props, their stories as real as the plywood and screws that create the buildings where they live and love, as real as the tires of the Jeep that Mark drags along the road, trying to age the tires so they look, well, real.
Marwencol is as real as the reasons Mark takes that Jeep with him every time he walks the two miles into town for supplies, for himself and for Marwencol. Several years ago, Mark was beaten into a coma by five of his fellow barflies. Nine days later, Mark woke with no memory of who he was or what had happened to him. He had to relearn the basic skills of life, with the help of friends and family and therapy. But just when Mark was beginning to hit his stride, his insurance coverage ran out—and so did his therapist.
The dolls in the Jeep, however, will never run out on Mark. The residents of Marwencol will never turn their backs on him just when he needs them most. They are as constant as he makes them, as real as he needs them to be. Their protection will never lapse.
Determined to recover the imagination that had animated his art before the attack, but unable to draw because of the resulting brain damage, Mark created his own therapy. He gave a doll his name, a soul, then around that doll gradually built and peopled a town—created a world. Instead of trips to a therapist, Mark developed his fine motor control by painting and constructing a home in 1/6 scale. He found his artist’s eye again with photography and scale models. Now, he documents the lives of the residents of Marwencol, their joys and sorrows, their trials and triumphs, the catfights and the constant battle to keep the S.S. from destroying their village. Mark lives in Marwencol, slipping between worlds, full scale and small scale.
People who have survived trauma understand that imagination is the first battleground, the first war that must be won. It was the real world proved to be dangerous and out of control, but imagination is where the monsters hide. S.S. soldiers, figures looming in doorways, boogeymen reaching out of the dark, hands and fists that hit and damage over and over—these linger long after physical injuries have healed. They lurk, leaping out and attacking again and again. Society, before we began to worship only those gods which could be independently verified (such as materialism and bullets), used to understand the therapeutic value of a good story, a cathartic performance. Once upon a time humans gathered together and told fairy tales, recited myths and legends where strange creatures beset and bedeviled mere mortals. Usually these enemies could be defeated with the right combination of human cunning, beans, and harp strings—or the occasional uncannily accurate laser shot. Imaginary monsters, it was understood, were just as frightful as any live monsters.
Once upon a time, people understood that some stories, like some monsters, were more real than others.
Mark Hogancamp knows his monsters are real every time the S.S. officers demand to know where the bar is in Marwencol because they want to DRINK! His alcoholic self was part of the monster that made him what he is today, 1/6 of the equation, if you will. Five other little men, in random variations, also hit and cut and damage—then die and die again, as S.S. officers, as spies, as the enemies who are determined to destroy his village. But the women of Marwencol are a tough breed; while their men are still searching for a good plan, they get the job done. The women rescue Mark and take care of him. Men, after all, destroyed him in the first place.

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