Sunday, July 13, 2008


I caught Murderball, the 2005 doc about wheelchair rugby, over the past week. I have to say, I haven't been so disappointed in a film in a while. The praise it earned seems baffling.

First, the film is too strung-together. It doesn't flow. It seems like the filmmakers are doing what journalists call "emptying the notebook," i.e. getting 12 inches any way that you can by unloading every single fact and quote. Did we really need five minutes on the sexual practices of paraplegics? No.

But the killer: A number of the emotional high points seem staged. Not scripted. I trust the emotions are genuine. But after a while, I wondered exactly how much the filmmakers interfered to set up dramatic situations. That sort of lingering suspicion is deadly to a documentary.


Alexander Coleman said...

Yes!!! Finally, finally, finally, I've found someone who agrees with me on this one. I remember being completely disappointed with this one after seeing so much praise being heaped on it. And you're right, the big emotional moments do all suspiciously feel as though they were all (rather meticulously) scripted. Definitely let me down hugely.

Craig Kennedy said...

Saw it and absolutely nothing about it stands out. That's kind of saying something, isn't it?

Daniel G. said...

Hmm, well I should say that I was initially impressed with it in the theater, but since then I've cooled to the point that I can hardly remember it. As such, I don't have much to say against your arguments here.

K. Bowen said...

AC: Scripted might be a little bit more than what I would say. Staged is the word I choose. As if things are happening in the movie because of the presence of the camera, and as if the filmmakers are at minimum suggesting that the subjects do things.

Do I really think that Mark Zupan woke up one morning and decided out of the blue to invite the driver in the crash to the Paralympics? Or do I think one of the filmmakers suggested that he do it in order to create an emotional reunion? I don't know. But you can probably guess which one would be my guess.

K. Bowen said...

Craig, same feeling exactly.

Daniel, thanks for the acquiesence to my genius. :)