The very serious subject of post-traumatic stress disorder gets a fanciful recovery story in Robert Zemeckis’ ‘Welcome to Marwen’, based on a true story. Steve Carell plays real-life artist Mark Hogancamp, who makes his name illustrating patriotic drawings. Unfortunately, this makes him the target of neo-Nazi thugs who ambush him and beat him within an inch of his life, leaving him unable to draw or even write his own name. Instead, he channels his creativity into photography, using G.I. Joe and Barbie dolls to replace the hand-drawn figures he once rendered. He constructs an entire German doll village called Marwen in his back yard into which to channel his fear and frustration as well as his creativity. This outlet helps him to gradually recover from his assault, but there’s only so much art can accomplish as he struggles to return to normal, both physically and mentally.
Check out this trailer, which mixes live action with animation:
Director Zemeckis has delivered some of the most beloved films of all time, including the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy, ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Cast Away’, and ‘The Polar Express’ as well as the recent true life biopic ‘Flight’. ‘Welcome to Marwen’ seems tailor made for him, mixing dramatic real events with a whimsical, fantasy conceit.
Carell is best known for playing the oblivious boss Michael Scott on NBC’s long-running sitcom ‘The Office’, but has turned in some truly memorable and touching performances in more serious fare like ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, ‘Crazy, Stupid Love’ and ‘The Big Short’.
Joining Carell in ‘Welcome to Marwen’ is an all-star cast including Leslie Mann, Janelle Monáe, Gwendoline Christie, Eiza González, Falk Hentschel, Neil Jackson, Diane Kruger, Merritt Wever and Leslie Zemeckis.
Mark Hogancamp’s story was first brought to life in the 2010 documentary ‘Marwencol’ directed by Jeff Malmberg. It has the distinction of being named the “Best Reviewed Documentary of the Year” according to Rotten Tomatoes and also made numerous “Best of…” lists for that year in various publications and won various awards. Zemeckis’ interpretation is obviously a fictionalized account, but hopefully, the hopeful message will remain intact.
‘Welcome to Marwen’ opens on November 21, 2018.