Welcome to Marwen: The True Story Behind the Film

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The film Welcome to Marwen caught my attention, with the first preview that I saw. It looked artsy and creative. However, the clincher for me was the fact that the movie is based on a true story. These movies, grounded in reality, always intrigue me.

Because of its based-on-a-true-story status, this post is more than a movie review. Join me in exploring the truth behind the film, Welcome to Marwen.

Welcome to Marwen

Welcome to Marwen Cast

This biographical drama/fantasy stars Steve Carell, Leslie Zemeckis, Merritt Weaver, Gwendoline Christie, Stefanie von Pfetten, Janelle Monae, Eiza Gonzalez and Leslie Mann. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Welcome to Marwen carries a PG-13 rating, for language, violence and adult situations, and has a run time of 1 hour and 56 minutes.

Welcome to Marwen Film Summary

Viciously beaten because he is different, and left for dead, Mark Hogancamp (Carell) miraculously survives and slowly recovers. He discovers that the attack left him with no memories of his previous life. Back at home, he creates a world in 1:6 scale, populated with 12 inch dolls. In the made up village of Marwen, Mark works through his trauma with the help of an alter-ego action figure, Captain Hoagie, and the dolls of Marwen, all based on kind women he knows in the real world.

Having lost his ability to draw, due to his injuries, Mark learns to capture Marwen through photography. As the court date approaches, when he will have to face his five attackers, Mark needs Marwen and its inhabitants to help him find courage and strength.

Welcome to Marwen

The True Story Behind Marwen

Mark Hogancamp, a former Navy man, was attacked on April 8, 2000, by five young men who waited for him outside a bar. Witnesses reported that Mark had too much to drink, and while chatting with the men, revealed a secret. He occasionally enjoyed wearing women’s shoes. Mark appreciated women, and felt attracted to them. He found that wearing high heels made him feel connected to that amazing feminine energy.

The men taunted him and called him a wide range of derogatory names. And then waited for him to emerge from the bar. Their horrendous actions were determined to be a hate crime and they were arrested. As recounted in the film, Mark nearly died, having been kicked repeatedly in the head by all five men. He was in a coma for nine days, and suffered brain damage that robbed him of his memories when he awoke.

After 40 days in the hospital, and a year in physical therapy, Mark learned to walk, talk and feed himself again. A man with artistic abilities before the attack, afterward he could not sketch. However, he owned an old Pentax camera and discovered he possessed an eye for photography. Completely adrift, in a hostile world, Mark created a tiny alternate reality of his own, crafted from scraps of plywood and repurposed materials. Marwencol emerged, named after himself and two women he had crushes on, Wendy and Collette. Wendy is portrayed in the movie, both as the woman and a doll in Marwen. Collette becomes Nicol in the film, his new neighbor who moves in across the street. By the end of the movie, the name of the village changes to Marwencol, just like the actual tiny town.

Welcome to Marwen

Women Rule the World

Mark populates Marwencol with 12 inch Barbie and Glamour dolls, and WWII action figures. He creates elaborate stories involving an American fighter pilot, Captain Hoagie, who is rescued and cared for by the all female population in Marwencol. The village is frequently attacked by fictional Nazis. In the movie, these “tormentors” will not stay dead. Representing his attackers, they return again and again, to terrorize him. Mark shares that he built an army of women to protect him because they have never attacked him. He says,

“Women rule the world. We’re just here to keep them company.”

The women in his life, after the attack, expressed kindness to him, helped him, kept him sane. In his village of Marwencol, he captured scenes and vignettes with his camera daily, and slowly worked his way through the trauma. Mark admits that in Marwencol, those five men have been killed over and over. In reality, the five were convicted of their crime. Only three did any jail time.

Welcome to Marwen; The True Story Behind the Film

Healing in Marwencol

Although Mark created Marwencol as a way to heal, and never intended to share it, people began to notice the growing small scale village in the yard. Three years after its creation, a neighbor named David Naugle saw him walking along the road, pulling a scale model military jeep and photographing it. Naugle, who was a photographer himself, asked if Mark had any photos to share. When he saw Mark’s work, he was amazed and sent the photos to a New York art magazine, Esopus. The publication ran a spread, and art shows followed. A 2011 documentary called Marwencol captured Mark’s life and his unique art therapy. That documentary became the spark that led to the current filmIn 2015, a book was released, titled Welcome to Marwencol, containing 600 of Mark’s photos.

In the movie, David isn’t portrayed. However, Mark’s work does get noticed locally and a gallery show opens, featuring his work. Part of Mark’s healing process includes feeling safe enough to leave his home, and Marwen, and appear in person at the gallery shows.

Welcome to Marwen: The True Story Behind the Film

My Thoughts on Welcome to Marwen

I deeply appreciate this film. While Mark sets up scenes with his figures, and captures them with a camera, we get to see the dolls “come to life” in the movie. The CGI is great, turning Steve Carell and the ladies into dolls that resemble them and yet, look like, move like Barbies and action figures.

It is heart breaking to me, the intolerance people have for those who are different. Who gets to say who is different, anyway? Why are we so quick to judge another and then take matters further and punish him or her, for being unique? The film and the true story are about a man’s search for healing, on so many levels. His memories may have disappeared, as a protective measure. However, his art surfaced when he needed a way to work through trauma. I love that. I love that he found his way back into life, through his creativity.

How is Mark doing today? He’s been positively impacted by people who have cared enough to tell his story, through the documentary, book and now the film. He gets out more, attends gallery shows, sometimes wearing heels. He says,

“Things have gotten better, they have gotten as good as they’re going to get. Except my imagination. That keeps expanding.”

Beautiful, Mark. I think you are amazing.

Welcome to Marwen The True Story Behind the FilmThe real Mark Hogancamp. Photo by Tim Knox

 

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Small Enchantments

Small enchantments are those things that bring us joy or make us smile or inspire a surge of creativity. As a small child, my attention was constantly caught by small enchantments. The puddle of water called to me. Crawling beneath the bush in the backyard, into the hollow space between the trunk and the canopy of leaves, encouraged me to daydream. Ladybugs, crickets and spiders all enchanted me with their intricate designs.

The world was magical to me, and as a result, ever full of mysteries and wonders to explore. I’ve never outgrown that sense of enchantment.

Recently I came across a marvelous quote by author and marketing specialist, Guy Kawasaki. His words reminded me that the greatest enchantments are often found in the smallest and simplest of treasures.

“Let yourself be enchanted in small ways.”     Guy Kawasaki

Small Enchantments

Let Yourself Be Enchanted

Enchantment is a feeling of pleasure or delight, the state of being under a magical spell. To be enchanted by someone, or something, is to be charmed. There are big events, places and encounters that definitely qualify as enchanting. Those impact us in unmistakable ways. Seeing the Sistine Chapel, in the Vatican wowed me, as did walking along the Grand Canal in Venice. I won’t forget those experiences.

Equally enchanting to me, however, were the simple plant based meals that I enjoyed while in Italy and exploring the narrow winding streets through  the villages. Allowing myself to be enchanted in small ways reconnects me to my childhood and deepens the mysterious wonder found in life’s tiniest treasures.

Allowing ourselves to be enchanted means opening to possibilities, slowing down and seeing with child-like eyes. I took my children for walks in the neighborhood, when they were toddlers. We never made it very far from home. Every twig, rock, leaf or squirrel fascinated them, requiring frequent stops to check out each amazing find. That’s the kind of enchantment that awaits us, if we have the eyes to see.

Small Enchantments

Small Enchantments

Small Enchantments

The small, simple things from my childhood still attract me. My backyard garden exists because colorful flowers, sprawling plants, tasseled grasses and fragrant herbs enchant me. Water, whether it is bubbling in a fountain or still within a small container, ignites my imagination.

I appreciate small, intimate spaces and candlelight, crackling fires and cups of hot tea. Wholesome, simply prepared food enchants me as does the beauty of a leaf lying in the snow or a double rainbow arching across the sky. Nature abounds with enchantments from butterflies flitting from flower to flower to the solitary tree that stands tall in a meadow. The spider weaves her magic, ensnaring me, and the narrow opening into a cave fires my curiosity about what lives within.

Small Enchantments

Small Enchantments

The Key to Wonder

Enchantment is a key. Being enchanted, as Guy suggests, in small ways, is taking that key in hand and opening doors to bigger vistas and larger enchantments. When we connect with the wonder found everywhere in the world, and our sense of “Oh Wow…”, we notice more things to be enchanted by. We can’t help it.

Have you ever noticed that when you buy a new car, you suddenly see that make of vehicle everywhere? Before purchasing a silver Toyota Camry, I never spotted them. Now, I see them everywhere. They didn’t suddenly appear. My awareness of them shifted.

When I notice the little enchanting things in my life, and feel joy because of them, I begin to see more and more small enchantments. I feel wonder. I’m inspired. My creativity ramps up. I sense how beautiful and mysterious life is. The connection I have with the Divine deepens.

This is where I dwell currently. I live in enchantment. The small amazements  open my eyes and my heart so that I can receive even more enchanting wonders. I love that openness and the delight I find in life and in the world.

What small enchantments are right there, in your life, waiting for you to notice them? Trust me, they are there and they will continue to show up. What tiny treasures make you smile and bring you joy? And even more importantly, what shifts and breaks apart in the heart and what opens up in the soul? That’s where enchantment works its greatest magic.

Small Enchantments

 

 

Enchanted Birthday

Today is my birthday, the 61st anniversary of my birth. Perhaps because it occurs so close to the beginning of the year, my birthday is always an opportunity to reflect. I think on personal accomplishments and areas of growth, and also evaluate how far I traveled on the journey since my last birthday. I’m prone to casting forward as well, dreaming of what may become reality and setting wild intentions free to go before me.

Join me in the highlights of an enchanted birthday.

Enchanted Birthday

Happy Birthday to Me

This day has been full of greetings, texts, messages and social media posts…and included a cup of hot tea with a friend. I’m grateful for each message and I’m thankful for the senders. I know how busy the days are, for everyone. For people to take a few moments to send a Happy Birthday wish warms my heart. It is my custom to take a few moments in return, and personally thank each person. I send out waves of joyful energy, with the thank yous.

Enchanted BirthdayThis clever birthday greeting, from my friend Grace, incorporated my symbol for 2019, the Queen chess piece.

Enchanted BirthdayThe perfect shirt for today, made by MiliLou Styles, features the Queen chess piece and the words, “Queen of My Kingdom”.

Enchanted Birthday

In keeping with my theme for the year, Enchantment, I was very mindful today of the magical qualities in life. Singer Mark Donnelly says,

“The enchanted day is only enchanted if we ourselves believe that anything is possible.”

I believe! Anything IS possible, especially on birthdays, right? I appreciate my friend, Garen, who met me for a birthday tea this morning. He is an amazing listener who encouraged me to dream out loud during our time together, and weave magic. Possibilities are what we talked about and that chat fueled my energy this afternoon as I worked on writing and upgrading my blogs. Momentum is building in that area of my life and I am enjoying the surge of activity and the foundation I am building for future projects.

Enchanted BirthdayGreg surprised me with birthday candles in a Veggie Roll from Han, the Sushi Man!

Aging Versus Growing Older

While I’ve been re-reading The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life, by Thomas Moore, Greg has been reading through another of his books, Ageless Soul. This book is next on my reading list.

A quote that Greg shared recently seems appropriate for today:

“Aging is an activity. It is something you do, not something that happens. When you age…active verb…you are proactive. If you really age, you become a better person. If you simply grow old, passively, you get worse. Chances are, you will be unhappy as you continue the fruitless fight against time.”

Moore goes on to say that aging makes us more of a person, more who we are supposed to be. The soul gets to peek out more and more, as life unfolds and we journey along. if we allow experiences to make us richer, more interesting.

I love the idea of aging, as proactive, rather than resisting the process and becoming old. Aging is beautiful. It is the soul growing and expanding and gathering wisdom. Young people can have aged souls. And adults may not have aged much at all, appearing to be stuck in immaturity. The difference is allowing life lessons to teach us and move us to a higher plane.

I am aging. My soul continues to expand and gather wisdom. On this day, my Enchanted Birthday, my desire is to keep learning and growing and keep trying new experiences. Another birthday, another milestone in aging, helps me to decide what’s important to focus on right now…and what can be let go. There are so many good things in my life to focus on and enjoy.

Happy Enchanted Birthday, Happy Aging, to me.

Enchanted Birthday

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Enchanted Gold – 76th Golden Globe Awards

It’s enchanted gold time this evening, as the 76th Golden Globe Awards are presented. While some are excited about football playoffs and super bowls, for me January launches the award season for films and television. The Golden Globes foreshadow what’s to come during the Academy Awards, presented next month. However, the Globes are more than a preview. They are unique in that they honor television as well as movies, and they expand the number of categories, which means more winners tonight.

Join me for a recap of an enchanted evening indeed.

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

Golden Globe Hosts

Tonight’s hosts of this three hour party are Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg. Oh  currently stars in the BBC America drama series, “Killing Eve”. And Samberg is the star of NBC’s comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”.

For a full list of nominees and winners, check out Golden Globes.  As I have the last couple of years, I’m watching the Globes with my laptop perched, literally, on my lap, blogging as the show unfolds. I feel official. Best of all, I will be ready to post, shortly after the program finishes. Read on for my favorite highlights from the show.

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

Introductions

This was the first hosting stint for Oh and Samberg. The snappy duo set the tone for a fun-filled evening by opening with humor and some light roasting of audience members such as Spike Lee, Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams, and hilarious intros to nominated films and television shows.

On a serious note, Oh and Samberg pointed out how diverse the nominations were this year and how powerfully change is rippling through the film and television industry. Sandra Oh teared up as she spoke…and so did I.

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

Golden Globe Highlights

Animated Film – Spiderman Into the Spiderverse

TV Series, Drama  – The Americans

TV Series, Comedy – The Kaminsky Method

Carol Burnett Award – “Funny, gracious and kind…the incomparable Carol Burnett.” She’s ruled comedy for 60 years, creating an amazing legacy. Her first love, as a child, was film. Later, she appreciated how the stars in movies and on television could make people laugh…or cry. What a bright and inspirational light Carol has cast into the world in her lifetime and mine.

Cecil B. DeMille Award – “Brings passion and brilliance to every moment…Jeff Bridges.” Such an impressive body of work this actor has, from appearing in Sea Hunt, as a young boy, with his father Lloyd, to recent films such as Hell or High Water. He looks at life through the filter of movies, and he desires to make a difference. Jeff is, truly, The Dude.

Original Score – First Man

Foreign Language Film – Roma, from Mexico

Original Song – Shallow, from A Star is Born

Screenplay – Green Book

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

The Best of Categories

Actor, Musical/Comedy – Christian Bale, Vice

Actress, Musical/Comedy – Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Actor, Drama – Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Actress, Drama – Glenn Close, The Wife

Director – Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Movie, Musical/Comedy – Green Book

Movie, Drama – Bohemian Rhapsody

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

My Closing Thoughts About the Golden Globes

I love watching this award show. There were surprise wins, as there always are. I was beyond thrilled to see Rami Malek pick up the Best Actor Golden Globe for Bohemian Rhapsody… really for Freddie Mercury…and ecstatic that the film won Best Drama.

And there were touching, moving moments. Dick Van Dyke introduced the film Mary Poppins Returns. Glenn Close gave a tearful acceptance speech after winning for her role in The Wife.

By the end of the Golden Globes I had a list of “must watch” movies and tv series. Tonight I wrote down titles such as:

  • The Favourite
  • A Very English Scandal
  • First Man
  • Green Book
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Roma
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • The Wife

The main reason I watch, however, is to cheer on and enjoy seeing people who love what they do, and do what they love. Whatever one chooses to do in life, inspiration and encouragement can be soaked up, watching these men and women shine. I know many people do not like acceptance speeches. For me their emotional stories are testaments, of how they got from where they were…to where they are.

I am inspired to be who I am and pursue that which brings me joy, as I observe others following their passions. It’s equivalent to being handed a huge permission slip. I’m grateful. And I’m mindful of offering the same to others, as I do what I love, and love what I do.

Congratulations to tonight’s Golden Globe winners!

Enchanted Gold 76th Golden Globe Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review Aquaman

How fun, to kick off a new year with the new movie, Aquaman. Films have impacted my life in huge ways. Many a story, played out on the big screen, has enchanted me and revealed deep truths about who I am.

In particular, hero or superhero movies occupy an important place in my heart. I grew up as one of those nerdy kids who bought a new DC or Marvel comic book every Saturday. The tales of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman inspired me as a wee girl.

Because of that long, and dearly held connection, as an adult I see every superhero film that releases at the theater. Aquaman is part of the DC Universe, and a member of the Justice League. His comrades include Superman, Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Cyborg. Aquaman, also known as Arthur Curry, appeared in the 2017 movie Justice League. This is his feature film, that fleshes out his story.

Movie Review Aquaman

Aquaman Cast

This fantasy adventure film stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Temuera Morrison and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Directed by James Wan, Aquaman carries a PG-13 rating, for intense action sequences and mild language, and has a run time of 2 hours and 23 minutes.

Movie Review Aquaman

Origins

Aquaman (Momoa) begins life as Arthur Curry, the son of lighthouse keeper Tom Curry (Morrison) and Atlanna (Kidman), queen of the underwater kingdom of Atlanta. Fleeing an arranged marriage, Atlanna chooses a life on the surface with the human, Tom. They are happy together, raising their young son, until the past catches up with Atlanna. To protect Tom and Arthur, she agrees to return to the sea.

Arthur grows up with an awareness that he is different. He has unique gifts, including the ability to communicate with marine animals and adaptability that allows him to breathe and speak underwater, and he possesses superhuman strength. Arthur misses his mother, as he matures, however Vulko (Dafoe), an Atlantean, secretly teaches the young man how to develop his abilities.

Arthur hesitantly steps into the role of hero, rescuing those in peril as they travel the seas. Freeing a submarine from pirates, Aquaman angers one of the attackers, who vows revenge. This pirate morphs into Manta (Abdul-Mateen II).

Movie Review Aquaman

Return to Atlanta

Life develops a rhythm, until Mera (Heard) emerges from the sea, looking for Arthur. Atlanta needs a king. Arthur’s half brother, Orm (Wilson) threatens to wage war with the surface, uniting all the kingdoms beneath the sea against the earth dwellers.

Arthur is a reluctant hero. He’s adamant about not being a king. He dwells in both worlds, feeling inadequate to rule in either.

Aquaman’s challenge is to discover who he is, and his place in both worlds. As he journeys, beneath the sea and on land, he gathers around him a group of people who see his potential. And he alarms those who seek power for themselves.

Arthur: I’m no leader. I’m not a king.

Mera: Atlantis has always had a king. Now it needs something more.

Arthur: Well, what could be greater than a king?

Mera: A hero.

This is my favorite quote from the film. My whispered answer, to what could be greater than a king, was a queen! I’ll accept hero, however.

Movie Review Aquaman

My Thoughts About Aquaman

I enjoyed this action packed movie. Jason Momoa caught my attention as Aquaman in The Justice League. He did not disappoint as the star and focus of this feature film.

In fact, I can’t imagine anyone else playing this superhero. The Hawaiian born actor has a larger than life personality, perfect for portraying a big screen hero, even a reluctant one.

I appreciated the cinematography, the flow of the story and the development of the characters. Most of all, I loved watching Arthur become Aquaman. I loved how he accepted himself as the man who inhabits both worlds. His gifts make him the right person to bring those two worlds together. His wisdom and perspective make him Aquaman. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

“My father was a lighthouse keeper. My mother was a queen. They were never meant to meet. But their love saved the world. They made me what I am: a son of the land, a king of the seas. I am the protector of the deep. I am… Aquaman.”

Movie Review Aquaman

It’s an Enchanted World

With this fresh new year, a fresh new adventure begins. I dearly love beginnings and blank canvases to create upon.

It is my practice to choose a different theme for each year, with a word, symbol, song or quote to guide me. In reality, those markers for the journey are given to me, Divinely so, a map of sorts to direct my journey. As I have shared previously, these elements begin to show up, by way of synchronicities, signs and repetitions, about three quarters of the way through the year, well before the beginning of the next adventure. I don’t do anything to begin the process, I just start receiving information that is, without doubt, intended for me.

The Word for 2019

My word showed up first. Enchantment is defined as the state of being delighted or feeling great pleasure. It can also mean that one is under a magical spell.

The word enchant comes from the Latin words “in” and “cantare”, which literally mean “to sing”. Images of Snow White or Cinderella come to mind, as they sang to animals who then helped them with chores. Or I imagine the Sirens of mythology, whose songs drew sailors to their doom.

Singing or speaking enchantments reminds me that the voice is remarkably powerful. This has been an important lesson for me, the last decade, learning to speak up or “sing out”, and use my voice. I have been silent for far too long.

When I realized my word for 2019 was enchantment, I dug out my copy of Thomas Moore’s book, The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life. I read this non-fiction book several years ago and loved it. I’m enjoying reading through it again. The book will be important to my journey this year, as I see the world as magical and enchanted, one that speaks to my soul in a variety of ways.

Moore writes,

“An enchanted world is one that speaks to the soul, to the mysterious depths of the heart and imagination where we find value, love and union with the world around us.”

I already feel the pull of the mysterious. This enchanted journey will, indeed, be magical and soul expanding.

A Symbol for the New Year

My symbol for 2019 is the queen chess piece. This element arrived shortly after I received my word for the year. I confess I hoped my symbol would be the tree. An enchanted forest or an ancient enchanted oak seemed fitting.

But no. I don’t choose the symbols for the year either. They too are given to me. At first I resisted the queen image, in the form of a queen chess piece. Why? I didn’t want people to wonder, “Who does she think she is?”

And yet, as I was bombarded by images of the queen chess piece and the word queen, I accepted that this symbol carries meaning and significance for me. It does not matter what anyone else thinks or wonders. This is for me, and it is given to me for a specific reason.

I am still learning the reasons, and I am undone by them. I’ll be sharing more, as the year unfolds. However, there are strong connections between this symbol and my life, on many levels. My journey the last few years has led me here, to this place in time, and I am stepping up into a role I am invited to occupy. More than occupy, I am invited to become. I am invited to BE. This year, I am the Queen of Enchantment and I will be using my voice to create and inspire.

Join me on this unique journey, as I venture into unknown and uncharted territory. Let me show you an enchanted world, that is big and beautiful and mysterious.

Blog Updates

Both of my blogs, this one and Journey With Healthy Me, are evolving. I will be making changes to their theme designs this month. And after five years of posting daily in this blog, I am making a change here too. In 2014 I created Cindy Goes Beyond with the intention of writing daily. I found blogging to be an excellent way to birth that desire into reality. I’ve continued the practice. Last year, I posted 10 posts a week, every week, between the two blogs. I set a lofty goal for myself, and incredibly, I met that intention.

This year, as I work diligently to take both blogs to a new level, I am setting the intention of posting in each two to three times a week. I’ll continue the habit of writing daily, I just won’t be posting every day. That frees up blocks of time to explore wonderful opportunities that are arriving, and allows me to grow, as a person and a blogger.

And growth is always a wonderful thing. I’m excited to see what this Year of Enchantment offers.

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