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Marwencol
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DTS-HD 2.0 Surround
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Eight additional Marwencol story sequences
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Mark's reaction to the film
  • Mark's "Red Carpet" premiere
  • Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical trailer

Marwencol

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jeff Malmberg
2010 | 82 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $34.95 | Series: Cinema Guild
Cinema Guild

Release Date: April 12, 2011
Review Date: September 3, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

Outside a small bar in Kingston, NY, Mark Hogancamp was beaten nearly to death, his memories wiped away. Seeking recovery, he builds Marwencol, a miniature World War II-era town filled with doll versions of his friends, fantasies, and even his attackers. As he documents the town's dramas with his camera, the dolls become living characters in an epic tale of love, adventure, resurrection and revenge. When his photos are discovered by the art world, Mark is suddenly forced to choose between the safety of his imaginary world and the real world he's avoided since the attack.

Winner of over a dozen awards, including two Independent Spirit Awards & Best Documentary of the Year from Boston Society of Film Critics.


PICTURE

The Cinema Guild presents the 2010 documentary Marwencol on a single-layer Blu-ray disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in a 1080i/60hz transfer.

Marwencol is a bit of an odd bird on Blu-ray. The film was primarily shot on standard-def digital with some splashes of 16mm thrown in. The brief film footage we get looks to be rendered nicely, despite the fact it’s been “roughed up” a bit, purposely mind you, but the standard definition footage doesn’t hold up entirely well. Because of the space on the disc the footage gets room to breathe, and digital artifacts are actually quite minimal and the image remains fairly sharp, but in the end it still lacks the detail and definition you would expect from high-def video and we still get some jagged edges and the occasional moiré pattern. These problems can probably be blamed more on the fact the transfer is interlaced, though this probably inherent in the source anyways.

Where the high-definition aspect pays off, though, is in the high-def photos that are displayed throughout the film. Mark’s photos of his “work” are presented in full high-definition and they do indeed look sharp here. The amount of detail present is striking, with clear, distinguishable blades of grass, gravel, and striking details on Mark’s models and figures. Colours are also bright and vibrant, and these photos really do pop off the screen.

It’s a documentary so I admittedly wasn’t expecting much but was thrown at first when I realized the footage was primarily standard-definition and couldn’t figure out why this would get a Blu-ray release to begin with. But since Mark’s photos do really showcase well on the format I’m thankful Cinema Guild saw fit to release it on Blu-ray as the details in those photos make it worthwhile.

6/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The film gets a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 track and it’s adequate for the film. The music sounds clean, and the dialogue is articulate but can be a little muffled depending on conditions of the shoot. Considering the nature of the film it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that the audio is really just average, but it doesn’t have any distinguishable problems holding it back and it’s at least clear and easy to hear.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

We only get a few supplements but they’re enjoyable enough, with all but one presented in standard-definition. We first get eight more stories from Marwencol, which can be viewed separately or all at once. In total they run 11-minutes. Presented in high-def we see more scenarios which includes many near-death experiences for Mark’s alter ego. Following this we then get 17 deleted scenes from the film running about 19-minutes. In these scenes we basically get more interview bits with Mark, including one where he actually talks about his surgery after the beating, and he also offers more details about his models and some of the items he’s rigged up. We see him putting together his one model at the art gallery, and there’s even a 2-minute clip where he meets up with the woman who found him after his beating. While I can see why the clips were cut (they would either bring the film to a stop or didn’t cleanly fit into the film) it’s great having them on their own here because they offer some more fascinating material.

Director Jeff Malmberg then recorded Mark watching the completed documentary Marwencol to get his reaction. The 2-and-a-half minute clip features Mark talking about his thoughts on the film and then praising it up to his mother who happens to call him while Malmberg was filming. There’s also a 1-minute clip of Mark setting up his own ”Red Carpet” premiere for the film using his dolls and models.

Finally the disc closes with a small photo gallery which presents 31 high-def photos of Mark’s storylines, and then a theatrical trailer for the film.

The release then comes with a “collectible” Marwencol mini-print, which represents “Mark’s” wedding. Film critic Elvis Mitchell then offers a super brief introduction where he tries-but-not-tries to explain the film (instead he chooses to just write about how Malmberg works.)

Slim but they’re enjoyable enough, and in all honesty I’m not sure what else could have been included that would have added to the film.

6/10

CLOSING

Mark Hogancamp is easily one of the more interesting subjects I’ve come across in a documentary and the film handles the subject matter rather brilliantly, creating a rather intimate but non-judgmental look at a man who uses the world he created to exercise his demons (it’s almost too telling how he thinks of his old self before the beating: an alcoholic in his previous life he now makes all the Nazis in his miniature world a bunch of drunks.)

The Blu-ray presentation isn’t great since a chunk of the film was shot in standard-definition digital, but it at least gets room to breathe on the disc, allowing for a very clean SD presentation, and the high-definition photos presented really do pop off the screen.




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