DVD Special features:
Audio commentary by Norman Jewison
Audio commentary by William Harrison
2 theatrical trailers
UK featurette "The making of Rollerball"
3 TV spots
Return to the arena The making of Rollerball
Trailer of re-make
Still gallery of production design and production photographs
Soundtrack: English Subtitles: English, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Polish, Hungarian, Turkish, Hebrew, Greek, Czech, Hard of hearing English
Widescreen version 16:9
Norman Jewison's dystopian Rollerball
portrays a near-future in the aftermath of the Corporate Wars, in which nations have crumbled and conglomerates rule. In place of freedom the people are given bread and circuses: material comfort and rollerball itself. Played on a circular, slanted track by men on skates and motorbikes, this extreme sport is the ultimate extrapolation of the primitive blood lust implicit in many team sports. James Caan is outstanding as Jonathan E, star player with the Houston team.
In the elegant detachment of Jewison's direction, emphasised by the stark, alienating use of classical music, there are echoes of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Notwithstanding the brilliantly staged arena sequences, Rollerball is essentially about freedom versus conformity and the corruption of unfettered capitalism, with Caan leading an existential rebellion in the tradition of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 which leads to a chilling, apocalyptic finale. Certainly the most prophetic film of the 1970s, Rollerball has an intelligence and power overlooked by those who simply denounce its brutal violence.
On the DVD: Rollerball arrives on DVD with clear three-channel Dolby Digital sound, although obviously it lacks the impact of a more modern 5.1 soundtrack. The 1.77:1 transfer is anamorphically enhanced and is generally very sharp and detailed with excellent colour. Some scenes show a lot of grain, but this is presumably a consequence of having to shoot with very fast lenses to capture the swift and dramatic action under indoor lighting conditions.
"Return to the Arena--The Making of Rollerball" is a new 25-minute documentary (4:3 with letterboxed film clips) that features Jewison, Harrison and various other personnel reminiscing about the making of the film. The highlight of the extras are commentary tacks from the Jewison and Harrison, and while there is inevitably some overlap of information, and some quite lengthy gaps in Harrison's track, there is also much to interest the serious film buff. Also included is an original seven-minute promotional featurette "From Rome to Rollerball: The Full Circle", the chilling original trailer, the teaser trailer and a trailer for the remake.--Gary S Dalkin