Murderball

An absolutely fascinating documentary about the sport now known as wheelchair rugby and about the life experience of the participants who end up wheelchair-bound in the first place. You will learn about the sport, and about the nature of the impairments from which the players suffer, which include paraplegia and quadriplegia but also amputation and neuro-muscular disorders.

The game is like rugby (racing back and forth across the field to score), but the field is actually a hard-floor court, since the players are rolling on wheels. The ball is a hefty volleyball sized number, with a tacky coating on it so that players with limited hand use can grab it more easily. The really interesting aspect of the game is that the players are rated according to degree of impairment, with a lower number indicating higher impairment. In a game, a team is allowed to field a variable number of players, so long as their ratings total to 8.

In addition to footage of the athletes in action, extensive interviews and life stories, and an ongoing storyline of competition between two particular teams, there is a side-story about a young man who is recently paralyzed in a motorbike accident. The film follows his journey through hospital care and physical rehabilitation. Vicariously sharing this learning experience will open your mind.

This film does an excellent job of educating the viewer on the subject matter and addressing the issue of disabilities in both a compassionate and frank manner. I highly recommend it.

An interesting note:

It occurred to me while watching this film that all of the wheelchair rugby teams mentioned were from Barnett's Core countries. So one indicator of whether a country is Core or Gap could be whether or not it has a wheelchair rugby league. Then the film mentioned where the next world paralympics event was being hosted - it was China!

Year: 2005
Directors: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro


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