Published on January 1st, 2017 | by Chris O'Connor
Rollerball Blu-Ray Review
Summary: If war has been eradicated surely things are good... maybe not, if there's Rollerball.
I’ll be honest… I got a bit frustrated at the start of Rollerball… I like Toccata and Fugue… but the organ work can be a bit overpowering and when it’s the main focus for a protracted period of time in a movie… for me at least it can be a bit off putting. But I’m glad I persevered because there is a lot more to Rollerball than first meets the eye. The general premise is that wars and crime have been abolished, in their place is Rollerball, a game that is watched the world over and acts like the Gladiators in the Colosseum of old, a distraction for the masses. Rollerball and society in general is run by corporations and “Executives” make the decisions.
Rollerball ended up being one of those movies that were a bit closer to the mark with their imaginings of a future world than perhaps would be desired. Sure the clothes and general aesthetic may not be quite on the money… but the notions of big corporations taking control over decision making and practically replacing elected politicians is all too close to the bone. Give the people a show they can tune out to and you can pacify the masses with ease.
In Rollerball the grand scheme starts to come undone when the “Executives” want the world’s most popular Rollerball player Jonathan E. (Played by James Caan) to retire. Jonathan is offered basically all he could possibly want and it seems like a good deal. But Jonathan can’t forget that his former wife was given to an executive… and he wonders why he needs to retire. So the seeds of curiousity are sown and Jonathan sets out to learn more than most citizens dare… attempting to find books he learns they have all been classified and transcribed and stored in a corporate computer banks. Looking behind the glossy veneer of everyday life causes Jonathan to learn that while things may seem ideal… they are in fact, far from it.
It is all to easy to see the parallels between this telling of a possible future and the future we are in (compared to when this was made in the 1970’s). When the next president of the United States is more known for his business activities than anything else, when competition between rival companies is reduced because big companies purchase smaller ones… are we really that far off the world of Rollerball?
Watching the making off documentary it’s interesting to learn that other than the original story their really wasn’t much to go on about how the sport would be played… in fact they explain that they kind of filmed a whole lot of footage and then when looking back over it they started to put it together and develop the rules. Clearly Roller Derby was a big influence on the basic game… much like Rollerball was clearly a huge influence on The Bitmap Brothers classic game Speedball and Speedball 2 Brutal Deluxe (a great game that I remember quite fondly).
The violence is really not as bad as you may have heard… certainly by today’s cinematic standards, but the movie is worth watching… and once you get past the opening blare of the organ… it becomes quite the intriguing tale.