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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mudbloods is a documentary about college students who play Quidditch, a sport originally created by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter books. It was fiction then; it's real now. The film covers one year in the life of the UCLA Quidditch team, the trials and tribulations of the sport's organizing force, and a portrait of one very devoted Harry Potter fan. The participants, as well as the life lessons they deliver, are wholesome, spirited, and passionate. A primary value is seeing young people who may not be thought of as members of the popular crowd evolving into a community of devoted friends, supporters, and colleagues; personal differences and idiosyncrasies are lauded rather than jeered. Since Quidditch is a contact sport and the film follows a number of matches, there is considerable on-camera action; athletes are hit, and they fall, bounce, and battle. One student is injured but fully recovers. Occasional swearing and expletives are heard, both in the lyrics of rap songs and amid the camaraderie of the competitors ("s--t," "damn," "hell," "getting laid," "bitch," and three instances of "f--k"). This engaging movie will appeal to fans of team sports and/or Harry Potter's Quidditch. Other than the intermittent profanity, there's nothing objectionable. The film delivers admirable values and strong messages for teens.
What's the story?
Filmmaker Farzad Sangari brings "real" Quidditch to the screen in MUDBLOODS, a documentary based on interviews, actual game footage, music, and drawings. Emanating from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, the sport of Hogwarts is now being played throughout the world. In 2011, 94 teams, mostly from U.S. colleges, competed in the Fifth Quidditch World Cup, held in New York City. Sangari follows the UCLA team in its preparations for that tournament, its camaraderie, its matches, its victories, and its disappointments. Central to that team is Tom Marks, coach, spokesperson, and cheerleader extraordinaire. Tom gets the most the screen time, followed closely by Alex Benepe, commissioner of IQA (the International Quidditch Association). Alex brings the drama of a frazzled event organizer to the party; he almost single-handedly coordinates the tourney (even drumming up credit cards to save the main venue). A third principal interviewee is Katie Aiani, voted No. 1 Harry Potter Fan by Box Office Magazine. Katie brings the "fan" perspective to the film, clearly illuminating what well-executed fandom can mean to one young woman's life.
Is it any good?
As in any exciting sporting event, the drama and quality of play increase as the team moves forward; this is true of Mudbloods and its filmmaking team. From its earliest moments explaining the game for those who may not be familiar with Harry and Ron and Gryffindor to the final moments of the World Cup, Sangari and his colleagues have built the excitement, nurtured respect for the players, and made fans of its viewers. The movie works. It engages, and it opens eyes to what happens when people commit to an activity, build it, thrive on it, and succeed in it, regardless of the actual outcome. Recommended for teens and up and for families who aren't put off by occasional language issues.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between real Quidditch and the game played in the fictional Harry Potter stories. What values from the books do you see translated to the current Quidditch fields? In what ways do the players carry on the traditions of Harry and his peers in Mudbloods?
One player said that the kids on campus most critical of Quidditch are members of other sports teams. Why do you think that's the case?
Think about the unusual transition of a fictional sport into a real one. What did it take to make it happen? Why did Alex Benepe equate the creation of Quidditch with his being a "scene designer"?
How does this film prove Dumbledore's statement that "[i]t does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."
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