Review of Marwencol (2010)

Moving picture, 83 minutes

Seen in 2017.

An extremely violent hate crime against a depressed drunk makes the victim a really nice artist.

It works on a lot of levels. Hogancamp giving up alcohol and leading a gentler, more constructive life, without giving up the harmless inclination to crossdress that exposed him to hate in the first place, makes him seem very sympathetic. This impression is so powerful that it calls into question whether Hogancamp might personally be happier than he would have been without the horrible assault. His art is itself appealing on many levels: As miniature craft, as therapy, and most prominently as pure fantasy.

The basic motif of a lone American who ends up as the male center of a little Belgian town full of hot women and good friends who battle the SS is all so deeply selfish and obviously simplistic that it can have no application towards improving the world. Like crossdressing, it is also harmless. Hogancamp engages in it with a sincerity and fearlessness healthier nerds normally reserve for unpublished digital projects and daydreams. The Marwencol character of Dejah Thoris is named after A Princess of Mars (1912/1917), a similar project from a time when they were difficult for technological and economic reasons. Hogancamp had obvious artistic talent long before the attack, but his devotion is not very unusual. His example is fascinating for its implication that similar self-centered universes could become commonplace and that it wouldn’t be too bad.

References here: “I huvudet på en filmskapare” (2019).

moving picture non-fiction