Welcome to Marwen
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 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.