Wel­come to Mar­wen

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - CINEMA -

A World War II war­plane pi­loted by a doll-like fig­ure is hit by en­emy fire and forced to ditch. The pi­lot’s shoes are burned in the forced land­ing and he finds women’s shoes, which he wears in­stead. The pi­lot is con­fronted by doll-like Ger­man sol­diers, who taunt him for wear­ing women’s shoes. The Ger­mans threaten to emas­cu­late him, but are killed by a group of doll-like women who come to the pi­lot’s res­cue.

As told in flashback, it’s re­vealed that the doll-like fig­ures are ac­tu­ally mod­i­fied Bar­bie dolls pho­tographed by Mark Ho­gan­camp, who has cre­ated a model vil­lage named Mar­wen (later re­named Mar­wen­col) to help him deal with his di­ag­no­sis of post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der and mem­ory loss from an at­tack some time ear­lier by white su­prem­a­cists[6] af­ter he un­wisely told them about his fetish for wear­ing women’s shoes. Mark fan­ta­sizes that the dolls are alive and act out in scenes which he pho­to­graphs. The dolls cor­re­spond to peo­ple that he knows in real life: him­self as “Cap’n Ho­gie”, the pi­lot; fe­male friends as his pro­tec­tors; and his at­tack­ers as Nazi sol­diers. A green-haired doll named Deja Tho­ris is a witch who pre­vents Cap’n Ho­gie from be­com­ing too close to any woman, send­ing the women far into the fu­ture. Deja Tho­ris her­self rep­re­sents the pills which Mark takes to re­lieve his pain, to which he has be­come ad­dicted.

Mark has a court date to make a vic­tim im­pact state­ment at the sen­tenc­ing of the men who at­tacked him. Af­ter be­ing ini- tially re­luc­tant to ap­pear in court and con­front his at­tack­ers, he comes to the hear­ing but flees when he imag­ines the de­fen­dants be­com­ing Nazi sol­diers and shoot­ing at him. The judge resched­ules the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing for the same day that Mark’s pho­to­graphs will be shown to the pub­lic at an art gallery.

Mark falls in love with a woman named Ni­col who moves into the house across the road, and buys a doll named Ni­col to rep­re­sent her. The doll Ni­col is in love with Cap’n Ho­gie and they get mar­ried. In real life, Mark pro­poses mar­riage to Ni­col, who tells him that she just wants to be his friend and Mark takes this re­jec­tion very hard while con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide. Mark imag­ines Ni­col be­ing shot by a Nazi, who in turn is killed by Cap’n Ho­gie and brought back to life, along with other Nazi sol­diers, by Deja Tho­ris. Cap’n Ho­gie re­al­izes that Deja Tho­ris is a Nazi spy, and Mark re­al­izes that the pills that he thought were help­ing him were ac­tu­ally hurt­ing him. Mark pours the pills down the sink and vows to break his ad­dic­tion to them.

Mark goes to the resched­uled sen­tenc­ing hear­ing and de­liv­ers an in­spir­ing im­pact state­ment. That evening, Mark at­tends the ex­hi­bi­tion of his pho­to­graphs and makes a date with his friend Roberta, who is a sales clerk at the hobby store where he is a fre­quent cus­tomer. The film ends with a pho­to­graph of the real Mark Ho­gan­camp, who has a suc­cess­ful ca­reer as a pho­tog­ra­pher.

Clas­si­fi­ca­tion: 12A

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