The real-world adaptation of the Harry Potter sport quidditch is the subject of the sports documentary Mudbloods. Inspired by the sport played in the books and films, ‘Muggle Quidditch’ was created in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont, and the sport quickly grew, resulting in the beginning of the annual Quidditch World Cup in 2007. In the Mudbloods documentary the quidditch team from UCLA travel to the fifth annual World Cup in New York, with the hopes of making it all the way.
Played primarily by university and college students, the real-world game of quidditch is a co-ed full-contact sport, described as a mix between rugby and dodgeball. With the exception of the requirement that the players hold a broom between their legs, this version of quidditch is treated as a serious game with little of the fantastical elements from the Harry Potter universe. In fact, the most fantastical quidditch element, the magical flying ball known as The Snitch, is represented by a guy dressed in yellow, with a tennis ball-filled sock tucked in his pants.
Mudbloods plays out like any other inspirational sport documentary, except for the fact that it centres on what started out as a fictional sport. The film’s goal is to show how quidditch has become a very real thing and that it should be allowed to develop as a proper sport. Even though many of those playing are accused of being nerds and geeks, quidditch can be just as grueling and physical as any other contact sport.
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 scenes – explaining the game for those who may not be familiar with Harry, Ron and Gryffindor – to the final moments of the World Cup, Sangari and his colleagues have built excitement and nurtured respect for the players. The movie works; it engages and it opens eyes to what happens when people commit to an activity, when they build it, thrive upon it, and succeed in it, regardless of the actual outcome.
Since Mudbloods depicts quidditch as a straight sport, the weakest moments of the film ironically come when it connects back to Harry Potter. The film features Katie Aiani, who is considered to be the world’s number one Potter fan, but despite the fact that she’s seen attending the Quidditch World Cup, her inclusion seems out of place. While it’s impossible to ignore qudditch’s origins as a game played in the Harry Potter universe, the inclusion of a Harry Potter super fan seems to be going against the film’s goal of showing quidditch as a legitimate sport that wants to be appreciated on its own merits.
Whilst the film could’ve featured more about the continued growth of quidditch, particularly in the three years since it was filmed, it still works pretty well as an inspirational sports story. If you’ve ever dreamed of playing quidditch, you’ll want to give this film a watch.