Known Johnson

August 15, 2005

Kill the guy with the ball

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:04 pm

Get off the computer, grab your newspaper and check your movie listings to see when Murderball is showing next. Go. Wait, read all of this first, then go grab the paper.

Alissa and I opted to see this instead of Bill Murray’s new film, Broken Flowers as a possibly “last movie theater outing for a looooong time” and I have to say I think we made an excellent choice. This might just be the best movie of the year, actually – documentary or not, cheap, grainy video or not. It simply blows away everything else that’s been out this year.

You would think that people who’ve had spinal injuries would want to take everything safe to ensure that nothing else threatens what little mobility they have left. But don’t tell that to the wheelchair-rugby players featured in this film. These guys are all-out, hardcore, hard-playing, and violent to the point of putting their non-paralyzed counterparts to shame. They’ve also been given a viewpoint of life that few of us will ever have – hopefully. They’ve lost so much that they can’t see how the threat of losing any more can be much worse than doing nothing at all. And so they do everything with an amazing gusto that made me feel very lazy. While violently playful at times, these guys are also deeply thoughtful about their lots in life in ways that might surprise someone who only saw them attacking each other on the court. They’re all well aware that they’re entitled to a life waited on hand and foot, but they’ve chosen instead to prove what the severely handicapped can do – and if you haven’t already figured it out, it’s pretty much everything.

I could say that the best thing about this movie is that I came away appreciating what I have, but that’s not entirely the way I felt. No, I feel guilty. I emerged from the theater wishing that I simply did more, because it’s not fair to have four perfectly good limbs that you don’t take advantage of when there are people like the one player for whom a blood disease took both his legs and his hands. Nothing stopped him – he learned to type with the stubs of his arms, he’s a vicious rugby player, and, as one kid at a game asked, he figured out how to pick up slices of pizza with what is left of his arms. Never once did any of these players sound like they were sorry for what had happened to them. Filled with determination, they simply made do with what they had, and in the case of the two teams profiled, went to Athens, Greece last year for the Paralympics. So, yeah, maybe it’s a “feel good” film in a way, but it’s not cheesy about it. How could you not feel good coming out of a film like this? Do not miss this.

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