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It’s easy to view Mudbloods as a joke. It’s a documentary about real world Quidditch (a fictional sport from the Harry Potter series, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last fifteen years) or as the players refer to it “Muggle Quidditch”. Perhaps not going for mass appeal, this documentary is very much about a sport most people won’t have seen before (except obviously the CGI enhanced Hollywood version).
Mudbloods follows the UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) team as they travel to New York to compete in the 2012 Quidditch World Cup V. If you take away the rather unusual nature of the sport this is a fairly standard sports documentary – honestly by the end I was rooting for UCLA. I even looked up the results of the 2013 and 2014 world cup after. I’m not planning on joining the Lancaster University Quidditch team anytime soon but if presented the opportunity I’d certainly try the sport, which is more than I could say before having watched Mudbloods.
The basic rules of the sport are as follows: Teams score ten points whenever they throw the quaffle (a volleyball) through one of the other teams’ hoops. If a player is hit with a bludger (a dodgeball), he must run back and touch one of his teams hoops. Just like the books each team has a seeker who must capture the snitch, a tennis ball in a sock worth thirty points that is attached to an independent player.
Many critics of Harry Potter book series have noted that the game of Quidditch has some large holes in it (mainly the seeker being completely pointless) and the real world variation has also carried over these problems. The game doesn’t flow particularly well and seems perhaps a little too luck based to ever become truly mainstream.
It’s a full contact sport, described as “a cross between rugby and dodgeball” and this shows in a serious injury during the course of the documentary. Despite Quidditch’s origins, this is tough sport that requires physical fitness. The sport is co-ed which is presented as a good thing in the documentary, but when a 200 pound male takes out a 110 pound female, I can’t help but question this decision…
Whilst the documentary may follow UCLA’s story it takes an even handed approach, not villainizing any of the other teams – even the four times champions Middlebury College are treated with respect. The documentary also takes some time to focus on “Harry Potter’s Number One Fan” which is enjoyable but feels tacked on, and perhaps takes away some creditability from the documentary which tries to sell Quidditch as not just some Harry Potter inspired gimmick.
Mudbloods is an interesting and surprisingly enjoyable look at Quidditch. The sport may never reach the ambitious level that its founders and ambassadors claim it will, but it has its niche following which this documentary celebrates in earnest.