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The Extremely Rare Movie Review: Murderball

I don’t often recommend movies but a couple of months ago I saw Murderball at a film festival and I haven’t seen anything else this year that can touch it. It’s one of those documentaries you think must’ve been scripted because life just doesn’t play out that dramatically and cinematically, but in this case it did and some cameras were on hand to catch it.

Back up a minute. Before they showed Murderball, they ran this blankly awful “award winning” Polish film about these superstitious Catholics who drag the deformed, the retarded and the dying through the rain hundreds of miles on some pathetic quest to this statue of the Virgin Mary in France hoping for a miracle. The whole thing was a disgusting pity festival, and all I could think about was the fact that if I was developmentally challenged I would’ve been lightening rod pissed at the indignity of the whole exercise. I kept turning to MTV Melinda and miming gag motions (I’m not necessarily the person you want to sit next to in a crowded theater).

Man do they hand out awards for some shit in Poland.

Anyway, Murderball could have been conceived as the complete antithesis of that Polish dreck. Though the subjects of the film are quadriplegic, they are people who despite whatever physical limitations they may encounter have totally said “yes” to life, and there is no pity asked for and none given.

Wheelchair rugby is the game they play, and it is not a sport for sissies. They are amazing, world class athletes who get righteously angry when people think they play for the Special Olympics. “We’re not doing this for hugs,” one of them retorts. They all have hot girlfriends and really full lives, and if there was one point in the film I wanted to cry it was when one of the guys goes to visit a kid who used to race motocross who had recently become a quadriplegic. They strapped him into a custom made rugby chair and you could see in the kid’s eyes that it was the first time it occurred to him that his life wasn’t over.

The movie is really funny, extremely cinematic and deeply human. Now that it’s opened I’m gonna go see it again. I really can’t stay too much good stuff about it, but I hope it’s enough to get your ass into a theater seat because you won’t be sorry.

To quote a great man, you can thank me later.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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