I’ve been meaning to watch the documentary Marwencol forever. Though I am late to the party, stepping over spilled beer, chip crumbs, and unrecognizable refuse, I can still say it was memorable. I’ll simply offer Marwencol praise, recommend it to you, dear reader, and whet your appetite:
On April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked outside of a bar by five men who beat him nearly to death. After nine days in a coma and forty days in the hospital, Mark was discharged with brain damage that left him little memory of his previous life. Unable to afford therapy, Mark creates his own by building a 1/6-scale World War II-era Belgian town in his yard and populating it with dolls representing himself, his friends, and even his attackers. He calls that town “Marwencol,” a portmanteau of the names “Mark,” “Wendy” and “Colleen.” He rehabilitates his physical wounds by manipulating the small dolls and props — and his mental ones by having the figures act out various battles and stories.
Once in awhile there are movies that come out that you *have* to watch. For the most part they are cinematic achievements and a testament to creative film-making and story-telling. The Interrupters is a must see documentary and doesn’t necessarily fit into the same category as regular ol’ blockbusters. It’s educational, heart-wrenching, scary, human, etc., offering raw events taking place in our own country and often largely ignored. It is hard to imagine the kinds of lives lived in Chicago’s (if not America’s) most violent and impoverished neighborhoods. In high school I knew two kids who were shot, one killed outright, and the other survived- barely. The kid who survived was a co-worker, class-mate, and friend of mine. And this was in a supposed middle-class setting. In contrast to this are the kids in lower-class Chicago who know countless victims, and not just friends, but multiple family members too.
The Interrupters are a group trying to change history. Criminal behavior, drug use, abuse, etc. are handed down and taught to children. This film offers an honest attempt to stop the cycle and finally push Sisyphus’ rock to the top, employing scientific/social studies and human compassion. For most of us what this film offers is unimaginable but living in ignorance of it may be the worst aspect of the human condition.