culture,  Politics,  Review

Welcome to Marwen’s ugly distortion of the truth

A new trailer has recently been released for the movie “Welcome to Marwen” starring Steve Carrel. This movie is based on a true story of Mark Hogancamp who was beaten severely by several men in 2000 to the point of memory loss. His beating came after Hogancamp told the group of men late at a bar that he was a cross-dresser. In order to cope with all this Hogancamp made realistic photos of World War 2 scenes using 1:6 models. Such as the photo below.

The movie trailer however, has deviated largely from what actually happened to Hogancamp for political purposes. Take a look at the picture of how the trailer portrays Hogancamp’s attackers.

Lets just ignore the discrepancy of 5 people in the first scene and 6 in the second and focus on the race. In the movie they are all portrayed as white. We even get a look at this weird Swastika tattoo that one of the attacker is shown as having.

The narrative the movie is trying to push about this event is that a bunch of neo-nazi’s beat up Hogancamp because he told them he liked to dress up as a woman. No matter who beat him up it’s wrong and they should be tried with legal and due process. However, this movie takes ‘artistic license’ to the very extreme. The trailer advertisers that this movie is “based on a true story”, but that’s like saying you put hubcaps on a car made entirely in Mexico and labeling it “Made in the USA”.

First we can look at news reports of the time the attack actually happened and afterwards about the attackers. In Collectors Weekly there is no mention of the attackers being Nazi’s at all. Nor did the New York Times despite them reporting at the time the documentary came out 16 years after the attack. None of the reports say anything about the attackers having anything to do with Nazism, or having any Swastika tattoos.

In the book written by Hogancamp and his wife Chris Shellen called Welcome to Marwencol  we can see who the attackers were better. On page 36 the books says the following

Purcell later claimed that Hommel [one of the attackers] was taunting Mark [Hogancamp], trying to get him to say something offensive, something about hating black people, like Black Freddy [one of the attackers]. But Mark didn’t take the bait … While Mead and Rand kicked at Mark’s legs, Black Freddy later told detectives that he, Hommel, and Purcell stomped repeatedly on Mark’s head and chest with their boots.

Oh, so one of the attackers was black. Interesting that the movie didn’t show that at all. Maybe because that wouldn’t go too well with the narrative that a bunch of Nazis attacked him. The reason why they call him ‘Black Freddy’ is because he was 16,a minor, at the time and another of the attackers first name’s is Freddy.

They portrayal of Hogancamp is that he saw the German’s as absolutely evil and the Allies as the good guys. There’s a scene in the trailer where Hogancamp is showing a model he made of German soldiers whipping another doll named ‘Hogie’ ‘…because he’s different’. However, that’s not how Hogancamp saw the war.

His wife is quoted in Collectors Weekly saying,

“When Mark was growing up, he was fascinated by Papi’s amputated leg and World War II stories, which gave him a unique view of the conflict that isn’t just about good versus evil,” Shellen says. “To him, it’s more of a gray story.”

This movie could’ve been made into a movie about someone who has to deal with his trauma of being beaten so badly he had to relearn how to do basic things like to eat. Instead we get a politicized movie about “Nazi’s and the Axis morally evil and everyone else good”. We get not the slightest humanization of German soldiers despite that being Hogancamp’s real belief.

I try not to trash movies too much because I realize that a lot of work goes into these things, however this appears to be just a butchering of the truth to push a political agenda.



  • Spencer Hill

    So you think there were good people on both sides.. that’s what I’m hearing and my friend is getting the same thing. Haven’t watched the movie but let me tell you I appreciate there agenda against nazi’s.

    • Efrain Velez

      Good people on both sides in World War II? Yes that’s what I’m saying and what Hogancamp (the victim) says too. Sure fine you can apreciate the ‘agenda against Nazi’s’, but they’re doing it through lies. None of the attackers had Swastika tattoos. One of the attackers was literally black!

      But if you want to have the truth distorted to push a political agenda and further dehumanize Germans and remove any historical nuance form World War II then go ahead.

    • Jesse

      Efrain, I agree with you and your point is as clear as cellophane. However, most of the people commenting on this are not deep thinkers, they are typical in that they hear something, internalize it, and then repeat it. There is no reasoning with them, and it’s not entirely their fault. Most people aren’t inclined to analyze anything beyond their sphere of thought, and of course there is the inclination to go with the wave, which ironically is what helped create Nazi Germany in the first place. Good piece, keep thinking outside the box.

    • nick K.

      yea there were good people on the German side. you ever heard of the german pilot who escorted and flew right under an american pilot all the way back to his base to the german AA guns wouldnt shoot him down? to say all germans were bad is plain idiotic. they followed what they were forced to follow. If you didnt you were a traitor and put to death most of the time. they followed out of fear and love for their country. don’t be a moron of course there were good and bad on both sides of the fence. the guy isn’t defending neo-nazis he putting the point across that they didn’t follow the true story

  • Jeff

    Yes, there were good Germans in WWII and bad Americans in WWII. However, there are no good Neo-Nazis, yet it seems like you’re suggesting the movie is sullying their otherwise good reputation. There’s no legitimate defense of Nazism.

    • Efrain Velez

      Okay, the fundamental problem I am trying to attack is that it’s not a smear against Neo Nazism, but a smear against white people. They are going out of their way to 1) Make WW II into a event of the beloved allies against the evil Nazi’s 2) To make it seem like racism still exists at such a widespread level which reinforces a left wing world view and empowers people to vote democrat over fake events 3) It makes it seem like any group that can be interpreted to be pro-white or at least not explicitly anti-white is one of the neo-nazi’s who screwed up the life of the poor guy.

      This is the type of movie that people will watch not for the cinematography but for the political message and will arouse them to vote for people who complain about racism and say they’ll solve the problem (ie. Democratic politicians). This movie will only tell people that people who have different views than them can’t be argued with because they’re violent and just like those evil Germans in WWII.

    • John

      Jeff don’t bother reasoning with this dude he’s off his rocker.

      Hey buddy how about you educate us on what ww2 was “really about”. While you’re at it please explain how racism no longer exists.

      • Efrain Velez

        I never said racism didn’t exist. I said it’s exaggerated.

        WWII was about a lot of things, and a simple world view that sees it as “Allies = Good and Nazi = Evil” is the wrong way to look at it. Sure WWII defeated fascism but it spread communism to almost all of eastern Europe and to China. At least people had food under National Socialism.

  • JellyLee

    I find it completely plausible to represent those thugs as nazi since neo-nazi thugs are completely capable of such heinous crimes just as bigots of any ethnicity who act out their rage against an innocent individual. I don’t have any problem demonizing neo-nazi on the big screen as they are an evil all on its own. But thanks for pointing out the facts that there are bigots in every race.

  • Maggie Vliet

    Good piece! I agree with you that the movie should have stuck with the facts better and not pushed this “neo-nazi” angle.
    Not defending neo-nazis, but it seems like the supply of far-right racists doesn’t meet the demand hollywood has, so they have to exaggerate it’s existence

      • Jesse

        Efrain, I agree with you and your point is as clear as cellophane. However, most of the people commenting on this are not deep thinkers, they are typical in that they hear something, internalize it, and then repeat it. There is no reasoning with them, and it’s not entirely their fault. Most people aren’t inclined to analyze anything beyond their sphere of thought, and of course there is the inclination to go with the wave, which ironically is what helped create Nazi Germany in the first place. Good piece, keep thinking outside the box.

    • Truth

      Exactly! Because hate crimes by neo nazis are basically nonexistent they have to make up lies to keep the hatred against those who they perceive as “nazis” , which would be anyone who doesnt agree with their political views going. Qhat really bugs me is how people cannot see that this is nothing more then dividing the people…and the people should be outraged over the daily bombardment of these kids of lies and race baiting tactics which has caused much chaos and destruction but yet they seem to be okay with it. Smh!

    • Z

      Efrain, these people are insane. There is no nuance and reasoning with them. They don’t understand your point because they do not want to. These people are not curious, they do not read, they do not care to see the world as shades of grey. They dont care that the Nazi’s were a political party and many of the German soldiers were just poor kids (yes kids) thrown into the frontline of battle.

  • David Pollok

    Your claim that an attack on neo-Nazis is an attack on all white people proves that you are deeply deeply sympathetic to Nazism

    • Efrain Velez

      You don’t understand my argument it seems like. Not saying that Nazi’s = good. I’m saying that this movie is using an attack on Nazism as an attack on white people (which the media does through calling groups like the Proud Boys Nazis).

      I doubt that the people behind this movie even know the National Socialist platform. It’s one thing to say/imply “The policies of the National Socialists in Germany were wrong and should never be repeated”, but it’s another to say/imply “Things white people believe in Nazism, Nazism is bad therefore whatever a majority of white people believe in is bad”

      • Ellie Richburg

        First of all, isn’t the protagonist, the goody guy, white? So clearly they aren’t saying all white people are bad if they are portraying all white people as bad. Second of all, these men, no matter there race, were still beating a man inches of death for cord dressing. That is true and that was documented in newspapers. So while they may not have been Nazis they were still violent, closed minded individuals, and for storytelling purposes it may just be easier to portray them as neo Nazis, since it makes for an easier, straight forward antagonist to Marlow’s WHITE protagonist character. Thirdly, you even admitted that the men were trying to get Marlow to say racist things. Even if there was ONE black man out of five, that does not completely rule out the fact that they were bigots, or possibly Nazis. As you explained the black kid was a minor and may have just been trying to fit in with these other men (this does happen once in awhile even if it means the betrayal of values that are in one’s own self interest). The reason the bigots may not have hurt him is possibly because he was a minor or it may have been that he was willing to give up his own beliefs, unlike Marlow reportedly did. Fourthly I am not saying they were nessicarily neo Nazis, but just because none of the press documented it does not mean it was not true. Who knows if Marlow knew something they did not or the press may not have gotten the entire story due to certain laws surrounding the trial (New York does not have laws like Florida does that allows the press to get all records on a crime and trial). Finally you claimed this was a political thing but as I stated before they may have just made them Nazis for storytelling purposes. It is far easier for the audience to sympathize fully with Marlow and highlight the “good guy” in the story. And if the story wants to make neo Nazis the bad guys why is that such a horrible thing- even if they are all white. The story makes it clear that Nazis and hate crimes can effect white people also. People see Nazis as bad, and there probably were and are a few good people who are Nazis, people who are swept up in what those around them believe (Dereck Black is a strong example of this) however I do not beleive it is a problem that Neo Nazis, a movement based on anti-semitism, racism, religious discrimination, homophobia, etc. Is morally wrong.

        • Michelle

          Ellie you said that it didn’t matter how they portrayed his attackers as neo Nazis and the fact they strayed from the true facts. Well if it were a story of a black man getting beat by white men, do you think they would change that narrative. No they wouldn’t they would say it was a racist beating. The point that Efrain is trying to make is that this had nothing to do with race. It had to do with a lifestyle choice. And I’m pretty sure that neo Nazis aren’t letting black kids hang around just because they’re minors or they claim they don’t like black people. I have watched documentaries where they have stated they don’t accept anyone that isn’t white. Also they were probably telling him to say he hated black people do they could claim their beating was justified.

    • Truth

      If racism weren’t exaggerated then why do they have to lie in order to push that agenda CONSTANTLY and CONSISTENTLY just like in this movie…there was no need to do it rather then to just represent the real facts of what actually happened! This is done on a daily basis by politicians, Hollywood, MSM, and even individuals like Jesie Smollett, which he had 16 felonies against him on an air tight case and was cleared of all charges!! So why do they/so many have to MAKE UP cases of racism if it REALLY is so “bad”??? How about just be truthful as well accept nothing less and this world then would truly be a 100 times better! But now the movers and shakers are stirring things up and those who do these things are all part of the division we are seeing! May God have mercy on their souls and set them free from their deceptions and lies!

  • Jane

    It would appear that you are the one with the political agenda. If you’re going to dispute a “based on a true story” film’s validity, and want to be taken seriously, get your facts straight:
    1) He did not tell a “group of men” – He told one man he enjoyed dressing like a woman.
    2) The documentary did not come out 16 years after the attack – The attack occurred in 2000, the doc in 2010
    3) Chris Shellen is NOT Hogancamp’s wife as you mention twice – Shellen co-wrote the book “Welcome to Marwencol” with Hogancamp in 2015 and is the wife of Jeff Malmberg, director of the 2010 documentary “Marwencol”.
    4) The quote from JEFF MALMBERG’S wife from Collectors Weekly is taken out of context to fit your narrative – Hogancamp did see the Nazis as villains and Allies as heroes. The “gray story” is referring to the fact that Papi was German and forced to fight on behalf of Hitler, the alternative being viewed as a traitor to the regime and potentially executed.
    The only artistic license I see is the use of the neo-nazi image to portray the attackers. This is a good way to explain to the audience why Marwen (col left off probably because it rolls off the tongue better) is set in WWII with the Nazis as villains and the Allies as heroes without having to go into so much backstory that you end up with a 4hr long film.
    So bottom line, your argument is that you take offense to the use of neo-nazis as attackers and Nazis as villains. That’s messed up bro.

    • Efrain Velez

      I haven’t looked into this issue since I first posted this post. But the first three things critiques you made of me are right, but don’t change or affect my argument at all.

      You contradict yourself in the last one. If he saw the Nazis are pure evil then he would have to count his grandpa as pure evil which he doesn’t therefore he doesn’t see the Nazis as pure evil. He understands that their is nuance to the war other than a childish rendition of good vs evil.

      I’m defending against the political choice of changing the race of his attackers into all white and making the attackers into Neo Nazi’s for political convenience which they subsequently use as a way to show that ALL German Soldiers were evil totally leaving out any historical nuance. Like how Germans were denied the right to self determination (ie German areas being under non German governments), and how Germany had to agree that they are solely responsible for the war even though they were just going into war because of they ally and how the treaty of Versailles screwed up their economy and reparations weren’t paid off until just a couple years ago.

      I’m tired of people having a simplistic view of the world and this movie through worsens that. So yes I do take offense as seeing the Nazis (which means German soldiers in this context) as villains and I take offense at using Neo-nazis as the attackers because it distorts the truth.

  • James Houston

    If I understand Efrain Velez’ viewpoint from this thread, it is essentially that Hollywood finds something that the target audience can easily relate to (in this case, skinhead Neo-Nazis). They’re easy to demonize because of the very nature of their particular beast. Again–If I comprehend this carefully–Velez is simply questioning why the Hollywood powers-that-be is not being historically accurate and include the fact that one of the Hogancamp attackers was an African-American. My answer to you, Efrain Velez, is this: Neo-Nazis being maligned is tolerated universally (excepting, of course, by the Neo-Nazis). However, if it’s just simply a bunch of lowlife integrated jagoffs that could be interpreted as portraying an African-American negatively. And ONE thing that Hollywood, Inc. does NOT want to do is court perceived prejudice. They make enough of a gamble as it is producing a motion picture without tainting it further with racial controversy. Call it: Politically convenient and acceptable artistic license. There are many examples of it throughout the history of movies if you look closely enough.

  • Cody

    I love Steve but he needs to stick to comedy’s, I’ve seen this with everything true story movie he does, either him or someone just butchers the truth way beyond artistic license; which if you’re going to make a fictional movie just make it, don’t say it’s a true story just to push this stupid narrative that Nazi’s beat him up.

  • Dan P

    There is NO defense for LYING about the facts of a story. Converting generic scumbags into Neo-Nazis just because the director has some unrelated obsession with the subject.

    And it actually does more damage to anti-Nazism than it helps. It then gives Nazis a legitimate claim that they’re just random boogey men falsely inserted into events they have nothing to do with. It actually gives THEM sympathy.

    Plus, it creates a LIE that there are NO evil thugs out there who act WITHOUT any ideological motivations. This hate was viceral, not intellectual. THAT is just as dangerous, and more prevalent, than any Nazis.

    If the authors of Marwen want to bash Nazis they should go make an anti-Nazi movie based on FACTS. There are plenty of TRUE material to use against them.

    • Kork

      Exactly. I’m half-expecting anyone who dislikes the movie to be labeled a neo-nazi. Let’s say someone makes a movie about all the Catholic priests who bugger little boys. Would it be ok to portray the priests as neo-nazis with swastika tatoos? And anyone who protests gets labeled as either a neo-nazi or a child molestor or both? So many ignoramuses in the world.

  • M

    Folks, I see all your points. HOWEVER most movies distort the story. Rarely does a movie mirror the book or the original story.

    Ok, so the story was distorted. Political agenda or not, it’s common. If we don’t see movies because of distortion, Theater will be empty. After all, documentaries usually play that role.

    I for one don’t think it was political. 5he Neo N angle seems it makes more of an impact and 5ies into the World War characters.

    Good luck finding movies that are truthful to the story, book, etc.

  • A

    First off, did you watch the movie yet?
    If not, here’s the big spoiler as to why they changed facts about the thugs in this movie…

    As already mentioned by another poster, it’s for story telling purposes more so than having a political agenda. As it’s also been pointed out, adaptations “based on a true story” always take liberties. You’re looking for a Documentary if you want a movie that’s more focused on facts.

    So what’s the narrative reason for that factual change?

    There’s two stories being told in this movie…
    There’s the World War II fantasy plot that’s told through the dolls. The other story is about real life Mark, who suffers from the results of being beaten up by neo-nazi thugs.
    The World War II fantasy plot involves Hogie (Mark as the doll) who has to fight against evil Nazi. The real life Mark plot involves him trying to find the courage to face the neo-nazi thugs in court.
    So one story is about Hogie vs Nazi. The other story is about Mark vs Neo-Nazi. Parallel stories.

    Do you now see why they made the change?

    • Efrain Velez

      No I still don’t because in 2010 there was an award winning documentary on the subject that didn’t change the subject matter. And even if I accept that they did it for the narrative you proposed, they are STILL showing World War II as a black and white event.

  • Goober

    The various practical, artistic reasons for making the attackers neo-nazis may be valid.
    However, when audiences see it, they think of the hard right supremacists-the people that the media and Democrats have tried very hard to associate Trump and Republicans with. Republicans deny any sympathies or affiliations with such groups but the linking nevertheless continues.
    To me, it is just a dog whistle designed to have today’s polarized, politicized society see white vicious scum and have Trump pop into their minds.

  • Fred Gorp

    Take a moment to, first, try to see things through his eyes, second, remember we are talking about artistic expression. Should the story of a guy beaten within an inch of his life, left permanently disabled, and desperately trying to rebuild his life through art, treat his attackers delicately? Taking issue with a, possibly invented, depiction of one of the attackers with a swastika tattoo, is really splitting hairs. To me there is a vanishingly small distance between what they did to him and what the Nazi thugs did to Jews, gays, and gypsies. It is irrelevant whether or not the attackers are card carrying members of the American Nazi party, or the whether or not the German foot soldiers were members of the Nazi party. I’m fine with the depiction, without consideration that it might rile people up. And, when did “political agenda” become a negative term? Life Is Politics.

  • Jesse

    Efrain, I agree with you and your point is as clear as cellophane. However, most of the people commenting on this are not deep thinkers, they are typical in that they hear something, internalize it, and then repeat it. There is no reasoning with them, and it’s not entirely their fault. Most people aren’t inclined to analyze anything beyond their sphere of thought, and of course there is the inclination to go with the wave, which ironically is what helped create Nazi Germany in the first place. Good piece, keep thinking outside the box.

  • Joe De La Vida

    Same with the movie “Bad Ass”, which is based on an altercation in a bus where Thomas Bruso, a European American, was attacked by an African American.
    Once Hollywood took it, the good guy became Hispanic and the bad guy became a duo of neo-Nazis, because it would have been too politically incorrect otherwise (even if reflecting the truth : ratios of “races” in prisons speak for themselves…)

  • Anthony Hindman

    Or….maybe people just want to go to a movie and be entertained by an inspirational story. Not EVERYTHING is political. Good God!

  • Jason

    Do white people really get upset about this sort of thing? I’m from Alabama and white af and am entirely ok with it. It’s actually a good idea for the sake of storytelling because of Mark’s obsession of WWII. Zemeckis said it was a recreation, not a biography. How lame to be triggered by a movie trailer. Thoughts and prayers to the offended nazis.

  • Anonymous

    This Movie Based on True story!!!
    “BASED” Which means they can change some of story due to whatever they need.
    But the story line is similar like that.

    Who cares they black, White , Asian or Latino whatever race. They beat people to brain Damage. Do you have to show the guys exactly same as the real person? what the point ? I don’t get what is your point for arguing.
    This movie is not about racism, what the hell you guys talk about
    This story is not about em, its about his Art and his inner World after the unfortunate happened.

  • Marcus T Jolivette

    Are you stupid? That Nazis were poor little white boys and girls made to fight. Do you read at all? Bc apparently, they all went alone with Hitler racism towards Jews. I guess you and your supporters are Holocaust deniers. I am also guessing that you and your followers believe that Africans just want a free boat ride to this country. It’s amazing how white men act. An attack on white people. That has to be the funniest shit I have ever heard in my damn life. Poor little white guys are being denied jobs, get longer prison sentences, police brutality against them, and had a civil war to stop the slavery of the white man. What a joke. The sad part about this is some of the people who support your argument call themselves Christians. Believe that Jesus was the only blue eye white guy in a region where ever Hebrew was a person of color

    • Truth

      Uhhh… I think you may need to go brush up on your history as well STATS! because whites ARE brutally attacked by police more then blacks. And it was WHITES who shed their blood to STOP SLAVERY against the black man. And blacks get “higher prison sentences” because the part about their PAST CRIMINAL HISTORY is left out of that lie you want to push as well. So try and go pull something REAL that might actually HELP your point instead of hurt it…I know it’s hard to do since so many will ignorantly accept these lies without looking up the info and or researching for themselves bit I’m sure you can find SOMETHING!!! NEARLY ANYTHING you can list about blacks has happened to whites and usually on a much larger scale! You need to go study how many white slave owners there actually even were, the massive disproportionate crime in black communities like in Chicago, you should go research on how many WHITES are unjustly and brutally beaten and or KILLED by police as well and there is much much more! But keep believing the lies your EMOTIONS wish to hear and keep ignoring the FACTS and or the other side of things! Racism was not a problem in this country until all of this nonsense started being spewed out after and right before the election of Trump!

    • Bobo Jones

      Wow…… Maybe smoke less crack and read more books;

      Only about 30% of Germans were Nazis.
      Most of the soldiers were, in fact, decent people as chronicled by General Patton, General Montgomery, General Jugou and many other members of the allied brass.
      They treated POWs well, were not overly cruel and respected the rules of engagement….

      The Holocaust didn’t start untill the war was nearly over and was kept a secret by Himmler and Icheman and the SS.
      Goering didn’t even know about it untill eight months before the war was almost over and by then the Russians were coming (transcripts at Noremburg) and the Varmecht was in full retreat.

      The average German citizens had no idea what was going on.
      This is why the death camps were located in isolated rural areas in eastern Europe….

      Of course that didn’t stop Russian soldiers from murdering and raping tens of thousands of German citizens….. And blacks were also rape happy and loot happy too.
      A special committee had to be conviened to contend with the frequency of black GIs robbing and raping people after Germanies surrender.

      And before you try to play victim and justify it…. No. Nazis didn’t persecute blacks. There were whole black Nazi regiments in Rommels Africa core and even black kids in the Hitler Youth as well as black Nazi Americans like Sufi Mohammed Amid the notorious “Black Hitler of Harlem”.
      And despite bullshit stories Hitler didn’t snub Jessie Owens.
      In fact Owens and his fellow black Olypians reported being made to feel more at home in Germany than in the US. (Owens in his own words)

      Read history before you act the big mouth, bruh.

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