Take a Trip to ‘Marwen’

Samantha Meek, Staff

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Do you get bullied or beaten up because you`re different? Do you struggle trying to face your fears about facing the people who hurt you? Well, Universal Pictures released Welcome To Marwen, a tearjerking and funny, but also inspiring, story of healing. 

Welcome To Marwen was inspired by the 2010 documentary, Marwencol, which detailed a world created by Mark Hogemcamp, a man who was nearly beaten to death at a bar by five men because he was a cross dresser. After spending nine days in a coma and 40 days in the hospital, Mark lost all of his memory, so he created his own world to help him recover: Marwen. The name of the world is a combination of Mark`s name and his special friend Wendy’s.  

The movie is structured as two separate stories; one in the real world and the fictional world of Marwen, but each tells the story of Mark (Steve Carrel) and his way to healing.  

For example, Mark is frightened to go to court and face the men who beat him, but he has to in order for them to receive a sentence for committing a hate crime. In Marwen`s world, Captain Hogie (also Steve Carrell) and his female friends are in a conflict during WWII which resembles Mark`s fear of standing up to the men who beat him. Carrell brings genuine emotion and humor to both Mark and Hogie in his words and actions. And how Mark was beaten will make your jaw drop and bring tears to your eyes. 

The person behind the fantasy world conflict is Deja Thoris (Diane Kruger), a witch and Nazi spy who keeps resurrecting the Nazi soldiers; she represents the pills he takes to ease his pain and trauma, but truly, the pills worsen his trauma and he becomes an addict. Deja is like a temptress because she keeps telling Mark in his mind to take more than one pill, which makes her scenes pretty spooky. 

In Marwen and the real world, Mark and Hogie have friends that accompany him through his troubles and are known in Marwen to be his protectors. Roberta (Merrit Weaver), one of Hogie`s protectors and Mark`s “real world” friend, plays a major role in the movie. Roberta runs a hobby shop where Mark is a frequent visitor. She visits him, offers comfort, listens to his troubles, and often gives him advice. Nicol (Leslie Mann) also plays a major role as Mark`s love interest and new neighbor. Mark even revises his fantasy world’s name to Marwencol by the end of the film to include her her name.    

There are many other memorable characters who appear briefly, but are there for Mark through and after recovery. Julie (Janelle Monae) is a social worker who Mark mets in rehab; Caralala (Eiza Gonzalez) works with Mark at the bar where he was beaten up; Anna (Gwendoline Christie) is Mark`s caretaker; and Suzette (Leslie Zemeckis) is Mark`s favorite actress.  

Most of the movie is set in the same world Mark lives in, his own backyard and house, where he creates what appears to be a toy, scaled-down version of Marwen. It`s like watching a guy act like a little kid again. The animation in the movie doesn`t look like animation at all. The dolls, well, they look like the actual dolls Mark has, and while the guns in Marwen look, sound, and fire like real guns, they still look like toys, as do the aircraft. 

During both the tragic and comedic moments the film offers, there are some powerful messages. Through these women in this story, Mark learns that running away from our fears and not facing them will not help you. You have to endure the pain that brings you down. You have to love it. Your pain is what makes you stronger. If you want to see a tearjerking, inspirational drama about healing, Welcome To Marwen is a great choice.