Robert Zemeckis is returning to live action filmmaking with a planned fictional feature based on the amazing documentary ‘Marwencol’ his next project, according to Collider.com. This is good news for fans of the man’s main body of work.
There was a time, not too long ago, when it looked like we’d lose Zemeckis to that irritating technological fad gadget known as motion capture CG animation. Requiring actors to wear specialized and often criticized for creating “soulless” version of otherwise realistic characters, the ‘Back to the Future‘ filmmaker used the technique to great advantage in ‘The Polar Express,’ ‘Beowulf,’ and ‘A Christmas Carol.’ With plans to continue on with the process (including a remake of The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’), it seemed like Zemeckis would continue cartooning for the rest of his career.
Then came ‘Flight,’ his first live action film in over 12 years (‘Cast Away’ being the last). The story of a plane crash and an alcoholic, drug addicted pilot (Denzel Washington) who inadvertently saves the day, it was a major player during the 2012 Awards Season. Now it looks like Zemeckis will delve into equally difficult material with ‘Marwencol.’ For those who haven’t seen it, this amazing movie centers around Mark Hogancamp, a New York State man who was nearly beaten to death by five men outside a bar. He spent nine days in a coma and a total of 40 in the hospital.
Upon release, Hogancamp couldn’t remember who he was or his previous life, and couldn’t afford the therapy to help him cope. So he used dolls and model miniatures to create “Marwencol,” a fictional Belgium town where a downed US pilot is catered to by a collection of women. He would then craft elaborate stories and personalities for his “characters” and photographed their “adventures” as a means of soothing his internalized pain. Eventually, these images ended up in art galleries and Hogancamp has become famous for his outsider expressions of loss and confusion.
All of this is perfect material for Zemeckis, whose gone from Spielberg like blockbusters to smaller stories about human frailty and flaws. With the right actor in the lead, the potential plot has it all – a horrific crime, a compelling recovery, the imaginary village with its variables, and as we end up learning in the documentary – Hogancamp’s own colorful and complex past. If he can avoid turning everything into something cloying and cutesy (cue: ‘Forrest Gump’), this should be a worthy entry into his already intriguing oeuvre.