So, we at Nerdgeist, were offered the opportunity to review a documentary (Mudbloods) following a college team’s journey to the 5th annual Quidditch World Cup. Of course, being the democratic bunch we are, it was put to the floor as to who would like to watch and review this and, quite frankly, I think I nearly tore something in my enthusiasm to get my hand up first.
Any of you who have read my previous articles will be more than aware that I’m a bit of a DC enthusiast. What I have managed to keep under wraps, however., is that I’m also a lover of anything ‘Harry Potter’. I’ve read all the books and watched the movies (more times than I’d care to share). I’ve played all the games (God I miss my Gamecube..) and have been (virtually) sorted into ‘Ravenclaw’ by the ‘Sorting Hat’ itself.. Hell, I even take offence to being called a ‘Muggle’ (I could be a ‘Squib’ God-dammit!) So yeah, case in point, I was more than happy to put a few words together in honour of a group of people who could put, even my, ‘Potter’ love, to shame.
Firstly, ‘Mudblood’ is a term that many will recognise as an insult. It suggests a tainting of the blood, a sign that you are something lesser and a suggestion that you are far from pure. In J K Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ Universe it is a term used by the (self appointed) elite, for those whose lineage contains ‘Muggles’ (one with no magical blood). In our Universe, however, ‘Mudbloods’ is a term that unifies. It creates a sense that, although fictional, there may be some magic in our veins or, at the very least, a spark to achieve something great. It also resonates with those who have been ostracised for their heritage, beliefs and even their passions and, it is this assumption, where I’m sure Farzad Sangari decided upon the title for his feature.
It has always been evident (at least in social standing) that those who dare to be different are the most likely to suffer for it. Not adhering to what is perceived to be the social-norm is what can really mark a person out as being different or, in society’s book, a ‘nerd’. Now, these days being a ‘nerd’ is ‘cool’ (though why this assumption had to wait until my school days and college years were over is anyone’s guess…) However, this documentary was filmed in the lead up to the 2011 World Cup and, in those days, broomsticks and nerd-isims were still best kept in the closet (or under the stairs), lest you mark yourself for the wrong sort of attention.
This documentary is almost a homage to a group of individuals who dared to defy this sense of ‘normality’ and showcase their (unusual) passion to anyone who cared to watch or, most likely, judge. The documentary, as mentioned, follows the journey of a group of college students (attending UCLA) from training to the ‘Quidditch World Cup’ itself. Now this concept of ‘real-life’ ‘Quidditch’ may confuse a number of you as, one of the main premises of this, once fictional, game is that it involves a whole lot of flying… However two incredibly inventive individuals found a way around this and developed, what is now, one of the fastest growing college sports. Alex Benepe was one of these individuals and is now the Commissioner of the International Quidditch Association and is, understandably, a major focal point of this documentary.
So yeah, at this point, I’m sure that any Potter fan, worth their salt, will be more than happy to give this documentary a whirl. However, I would like to point out that this is a documentary that will appeal to many, even those without a basic understanding of ‘Quidditch’ itself.
Sangari has managed to put together what can be perceived as an age-old underdog story. A tale where those who are down-trodden, ridiculed and heckled fight against the odds in order to prove their worth. In the case of this documentary its main focal point (the UCLA team) are the ‘underdogs’ in a number of ways. They admit to being a point of ridicule for their peers, whilst preparing to come against the odds on favourites, Middlebury College, who are both the founders and four time winners of the cup. So, the scene is deliciously set up, as the audience waits on tenter hooks to find out if these brave souls are able to overcome adversity and win against all odds.
On the more techincal side of things, the cinematography used in the documentary enables the viewer to feel as though they are part of the team. You’re there for every inspiring team-talk, shaken by every fall and jubilant at every score. Like a number of great underdog stories, such as ‘The Mighty Ducks’ and ‘Little Giants’ you’ll find yourself rooting for these players and I’ll even admit to shouting “PLAY THE FLYING V” at the screen on more than one occasion. The choice of music, which rises and falls with the game itself, adds an often inspiring touch to what is, truly, a triumphant documentary.
In all, this documentary has really struck a chord with me. As a fan of both sport and nerd culture I never thought I would see the day where the two could be combined. Sangari’s documentary caters to both these sects and is one that I hope can bridge the gap between ‘Jocks’ and ‘Nerds’ as it is clear that this sport is almost as high impact as some of the top professional sports out there. To end I feel that the premise and lifeblood of this documentary can be summed up by a quote from the ‘Harry Potter’ books themselves (as cited by the number one ‘Harry Potter’ fan in the documentary):
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Rating 9/10 or (in ‘Harry Potter’ terms) O for Outstanding!
Mudbloods is available to download on iTunes
For more information and to download the documentary you can visit the official website at Mudbloodsmovie.com