The other day I was writing a brief article about tags — the folksonomy kind as found in Flickr and Deli.cio.us and the like. To create an example I searched on the word ‘wheelchair’ and was intrigued by the movie trailer for Murderball, a documentary that appeared among the listings.
Today my partner and I were looking at movie listings for an end-of-the-week film to see and there was Murderball, so off we went.
The movie takes as its subject the US and Canadian wheelchair rugby teams as they compete for various awards. It’s not a sports movie though: games are mercifully shown only in part — a few quick action shots here and there, sufficient to demonstrate the fairly brutal nature of this sport. Competitors are strapped in to armoured wheelchairs and are at liberty to crash into others to prevent a team from scoring goals.
The real action and drama though is in the lives of these people. Watch for the practical joke involving the team member with no arms and legs. Watch the father soften his hard-line attitude to his son. Watch the newly disabled guy light up at the notion of wheeling around at high speed crashing into others — and see how his hospital guardians hover anxiously as he tries out the armoured wheelchair. They’re terrified he’ll injure himself on hospital property, presumably a fear of being sued.
One thing particularly intrigued me in this excellent movie: before a game the American team would use a (feeble) morale boosting chant, where they shouted “One, two, three, USA!”. This pathetic effort was surprising enough for a country with all those cheerleaders who do the complex and imaginative cheers we see in movies and on TV. At one point we caught a glimpse of the New Zealand team doing a haka. Now I know there’s all kinds of cultural stuff around our able bodied rugby team doing the haka before a match, but on a scale from 1 to 100 for power and effectiveness I think anyone would have to rank the USA team’s cheer as a 1 and the haka as 100.
So, even though I care less about any sport, I have to admit I felt a certain pride that ‘our’ team (yes, the team I’d never heard of before tonight), produced a blood-curdling haka before their game, even if we saw only a couple of seconds of it in the movie.
[Meanwhile, it seems the All Blacks are in trouble for their latest variation of the pre-match haka in which they drew their fingers across their throats. Apparently some of the other competing rugby teams found it all too intimidating.]