A new trailer for the upcoming Robert Zemeckis film Welcome to Marwen shows Steve Carell in his role as artist and Kingston resident Mark Hogancamp. The film is partially set in Kingston but also in the imaginary Belgian village of Marwencol.
Hogancamp not only imagined Marwencol, a village at war, but created it in meticulous miniature detail, peopling it with stoic GI Joes and gun-toting sexily-clad Barbie Dolls strong enough to master the horrors of war.
He created Marwencol as a way to cope with the brutal beating he suffered in 2000 after leaving a Kingston bar. After five skinheads learned that Hogancamp sometimes wore women’s clothes at home, they beat him so badly that he spent nine days in a coma. When Hogancamp woke up, most of his memories were gone. He thought it was 1984 and he was still serving in the Navy.
Hogancamp attended physical therapy for a year, but then his insurance ran out. Unable to afford more therapy, he began staging and photographing traumatic military scenes featuring his action figure alter-ego Hogie.
Streaked with red nail polish blood, Hogie suffered vicious assaults from the small-scale Nazis but survived, thanks to the help of his female action figure heroines.
Hogancamp’s photographs are so detailed and realistic that one was mistaken for an actual combat scene and shared on social media as an example of “bravery.”
After his photos were displayed in an art gallery, the story received national attention, eventually inspiring a 2010 documentary, Marwencol, and a 2015 book, Welcome to Marwencol, co-authored by Chris Shellen.
Zemeckis first began planning his feature film version in 2013 after seeing Jeff Malmberg’s award-winning documentary. Due to debut on December 21, 2018, Marwen will have a different focus than the documentary. The film also stars Janelle Monae, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger and Eiza Gonzalez.