Saw the Welcome to Marwen trailer yesterday. It was the second time I’ve seen it, but the first since my PTSD made my daily functioning chore. Needless to say, I’ve taken it off my “to see” list. But I don’t think you should. From the looks of the trailer, it might give a decent view of what living with PTSD is like.
While everyone comes to have PTSD in a different way, it is a universal mental health problem and there are some universal ways our minds deal with it. In the case of Marwen, he cannot tell his story in a straightforward way, it would be too painful, so he creates a toy village with toy characters that tell his story for him. This is not unusual. It’s a very normal way of dealing with the trauma. You’ll find in the list of people who suffer from PTSD writers, actors, comedians, and other artists. These people use their art to tell their story.
The other thing that is common is the mythical protector(s). In Marwen, these protectors in his fantasy world are all women in his real life. That latter part is a deviation from what most people with PTSD experience. Most of us often go it alone because most people cannot handle our reality. But I don’t mind that the film has this because 1) there are a few people like that, and 2) maybe it will encourage people to stop seeing us as freaks and try to be strong enough to stand with us.
There is one scene in the trailer that some might object to. Marwen is having a horrible flashback but his mind is using his fantasy to play it out. He is under attack and his protectors come but it doesn’t decrease the violence and, in his state, he screams for more ammo. A woman knocks on the door of his room and asks if he’s alright because she thought she heard him screaming for more gumbo. At first blush this seems a horrific use of the humor clause in dramatic writing. To quote Joss Whedon, “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of god, tell a joke.”
But, really, I think that it plays right into the explanation of what people with PTSD experience when dealing with “ordinary” people. We are saying one thing, but somewhere along the line it gets lost in translation and the “normal” person hears something else, sometimes because of communication issues, more often because “more gumbo” is something they can handle, while “more ammo” is not.
I hope that this movie will do what it appears to do, portray PTSD in a realistic and compassionate way. I hope a lot of people go see it. Maybe if they do people will see the reality of PTSD and that the people who suffer with it are not the Rambo’s Hollywood normally portray us as. Maybe…
PS I have not linked to any of the information regarding PTSD because I cannot look at those sites right now. It is just too much for me to handle. You are welcome to do your own research, however.