Are stories all we really have in the end?
WHEN MARK HOGANCAMP WAS BEATEN to within an inch of his life outside a bar, he lost many of his memories of his life and himself. As a form of therapy, he created Marwencol, a fictitious Belgian village during World War II. Mark’s story, and that of Marwencol, has since become a documentary with the same name.
What began as a process of creative healing branches into a much richer universe. Marwencol comes to straddle the boundary between what is real, and the stories we weave in such detail that they might as well be.
Friends and family become alternate characters in Mark’s continuously developing storyline. The cast of Marwencol includes both a time-travelling witch and Nazi SS officers, and in this world, Mark’s alter ego is a former US pilot who finds himself drawn into various plots as they unfold.
As a documentary of Mark’s journey, Marwencol looks bloody fascinating. As an artistic exploration, it asks profound questions about the role of stories in constructing meaning, memory, and identity.
The very act of remembering, for all of us, is a complex weave of what was, and what it meant. Stories are intimately involved in tying together events in our lives, in making sense of who we are, where we are, and why any of it matters.
The world cannot mean anything to us except through stories. Through a gently applied weave of fiction passing through everything we do and think. Occasionally, those stories can become the foundation for whole lives. Or second lives – where the memories of one have been lost.
To varying degrees, we all have a foot, a toe, or a mind, in a place called Marwencol.