It looks like Wreck-It Ralph 2 won’t be the only major animation project released on November 21. Universal Pictures is counter-programming with the true-life-inspired drama Welcome To Marwen, which features an intriguing mix of live action and animation.

A trailer for the film was released this week:

The film is directed by Robert Zemeckis, whose cg projects like A Christmas Carol, Beowulf, and The Polar Express have often been accused of slipping into the uncanny valley. This might be the first instance where, even if that effect does occur, it would be perfectly appropriate to the story.

Welcome to Marwen is a fictionalized version of the true story of Mark Hogancamp (portrayed by Steve Carell) who, after being nearly beaten to death, found therapeutic relief by building a 1/6th-scale model of a Belgian town during World War II. The studio describes the film as follows:

Welcome to Marwen tells the miraculous true story of one broken man’s fight as he discovers how artistic imagination can restore the human spirit. When a devastating attack shatters Mark Hogancamp and wipes away all memories, no one expected recovery. Putting together pieces from his old and new life, Mark meticulously creates a wondrous town where he can heal and be heroic. As he builds an astonishing art installation — a testament to the most powerful women he knows — through his fantasy world, he draws strength to triumph in the real one.

Zemeckis wrote the screenplay, from a story that he developed with Caroline Thompson. Zemeckis also produced, along with Steve Starkey (Forrest Gump, Flight), Jack Rapke (Cast Away, Flight), and Cherylanne Martin (The Pacific, Flight) of his Universal-based Imagemovers banner. It is executive produced by Jackie Levine, as well as Jeff Malmberg, who directed the 2010 documentary Marwencol which inspired the film.

It’s hard to gauge how this film will turn out, but you have to give credit to Zemeckis for using animation and vfx in an intimate, personal drama rather than the typical action-adventure/monster/sci-fi blockbuster-style projects.

Atomic Fiction and Framestore are producing the animation and visual effects under vfx supervisor Kevin Baillie.

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