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Wed August 3, 2005
Everyone should see it.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
I doubt anyone seeing the documentary Murderball will ever again offer assistance to a paraplegic, much less these quadraplegic Rugby players. They compete in Paralympics like special forces itching for a fight, want no sympathy, need no help, and are better human beings than they might have been without their disabilities. As one player puts it, "We're not going for a hug - we're going for a fucking gold medal."
Sympathy has no seat for watching the preparations from 2002 and 2004 for the battle between the US and Canada. For the documentary, who wins seems like an afterthought to their being winners before the games. Each Olympian is clearly defined: For 2 instances, Mark Zupan, arguably the best player in the world, lay in a ditch for 13 hours after being tossed from the bed of a pickup truck; the older Joe Soares, being dropped from the US team, becomes obsessed with beating his former team by coaching the rival Canadiens. There is barely a stereotype among all of them
And if you thought these gladiators might be left out of the lovemaking game, think again: They and their chariots are chick magnets, for whom their personalities and determination are aphrodisiac enough.
Murderball is not about Rugby, of which there is too little in the film. One of the production companies involved, MTV, had an obvious influence on the quick cut game sequences; there's too much editing and not enough exposition about the intricacies of the game these exceptional athletes became famous for.
Murderball is about human beings doing fate in by doing all they can with what they're given. It won the documentary audience award at the Sundance Film Festival.
This is the ultimate reality show. Everyone should see it.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com