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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Marwencol [Blu-ray]


(Jeff Malmberg, 2010)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Cinema Guild

Video: Cinema Guild



Region: FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:22:32.013

Disc Size: 18,002,700,868 bytes

Feature Size: 14,925,416,448 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.10 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 12th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080i / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1704 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1704 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)






• Eight Additional Marwencol Story Sequences (11:41)
• 17 Deleted Scenes (19:02)
Mark s Reaction to the Film (2:32)
Mark at the Red Carpet Premiere (1:01)
Stills Gallery (31 photos)
Theatrical Trailer (2:20)

8 Cinema Guild Preview/trailers
• 2-page liner notes introduction by film critic Elvis Mitchell
Collectible Marwencol mini-print by Mark Hogancamp





Description: 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 and Best Documentary of the Year from Boston Society of Film Critics.


See some of Hogencamp's photography HERE



The Film:

When Hogancamp's work is discovered and becomes the subject of a Manhattan gallery exhibition, complete with Marwencol on display, a question surfaces about whether Hogancamp will want to start regarding his work as art rather than therapy -- or whether he can find a way to reconcile the two.

The film offers a tentative answer to that central query, prompting Hogancamp to reveal what provoked his attack, a revelation that adds an entirely unexpected dimension to "Marwencol." One thing seems certain: Regardless of whatever path Hogancamp takes from now on, his life is unlikely to remain unchanged.

Excerpt from Kevin Thomas at the L.A. Times located HERE

Happily, Malmberg doesn't use his camera to gawk. Rather, he introduces the audience to Hogancamp and his eccentricities with unfailing sensitivity, etching a fine, delicately nuanced portrait of an artist compelled by mysterious forces to create something utterly unique. While it's obvious that Hogancamp's hobby allows him to engage in healthy fantasy and wish fulfillment (he's a character in his own right, in the form of the courageous, handsome Captain Hogancamp), there are practical implications as well, as the work helps him regain his fine motor skills.

Eventually Hogancamp began to photograph his project, and those pictures brought him to the attention of the New York art world. When "Marwencol" takes Hogancamp out of Kingston and into Soho, filmgoers may well find themselves wincing with apprehension (especially when the plot takes an utterly surprising, potentially disastrous turn). Malmberg's thoughtful, compassionate film is about many things - the mysteries of the brain and the creative spirit, the passions and motives of one idiosyncratic individual. But at its heart, it's about the communities we forge - real and imagined - to save our own lives..

Excerpt from Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Marwencol was shot on digital and is directly transferred to Blu-ray - hence using a 1080i transfer.  The film is filled with still photographs of the posed action figures that are often stunning in their quality showing some real depth and strong, true, colors. This is only single-layered with a small feature size but an acceptable bitrate. The interlaced combing in the live action sequences is not overly disturbing but the disparity between them and the static shots are noticeable. It kind of brings the war fantasy to a higher plain. This Blu-ray offers the best presentation for the limited budget film and there are plenty of visuals that are highly impressive - as I hope the screen captures below indicate.
















Audio :

The track is lossless but expectantly modest utilizing a DTS-HD Master stereo rendering at 1704 kbps. There is some nice WW2 music and an original score by Ash Black Bufflo but this is a documentary with narration and not much in the way of effects or separations necessary. There is a bit of expectedly scattered dialogue and no range of depth - authentic to the original production. There are no subtitles offered and my Momitsu has identified it as being region FREE.


Extras :

Cinema Guild have stacked the disc with plenty of extras including eight, short, additional Marwencol Story Sequences running under a dozen minutes - a hefty 17 Deleted Scenes and two sequences more directly related to Mark Hogancamp with 2.5 minutes showing his reaction to the film and at the Red Carpet Premiere. There are 31 impressive photos in a Stills Gallery and a theatrical trailer plus the package contains a 2-page liner notes introduction by film critic Elvis Mitchell and a collectible Marwencol mini-print (postcard size) by Hogancamp.



A totally unique film experience - Marwencol is wonderful - a kind of psychological adventure. I've definitely had my head turned by a healthy handful of documentaries this past year - more than ever before - and this fits perfectly in that category. With all the action-figure poses this works very well via Blu-ray, in my opinion. Technically we have a modest production of a stirring piece of cinema that benefits from the new format transfer. We endorse Marwencol very much... 

Gary Tooze

April 8th, 2011


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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