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Rollerball [1975] - Special Edition [DVD]

4.4 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn
  • Directors: Norman Jewison
  • Writers: William Harrison
  • Producers: Norman Jewison, Patrick J. Palmer
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 24 Jun. 2002
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005KISO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,780 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

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

From Amazon.co.uk

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

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Science fiction films date quicker than any other genre, not because the technology becomes obsolete per se, but because the storylines reflect the politics and attitudes of the time in which they are made. For example, The Day the Earth Stood Still, however watchable, is a clumsy effort to warn against the perils of nuclear warfare following the splitting of the atom and the bombing of Hiroshima during WWII.
Rollerball is a statement about freedom according to the Capitalist philosophies of the USA. Jonathan E is asked to retire by his controlling bosses because he has become too popular. Corporate Executive Bartholomew states that ‘the game was created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort’. This is quite clearly a metaphor for Communism.
Jonathan E is not a natural rebel. His beloved wife is taken from him by a Corporate Executive, a situation that he begrudgingly accepts but never forgets. This leaves him with an empty life of material comforts and courtesans provided by the Corporation for recreational sex. His only reason for living is the adulation he receives as the champion of Rollerball. When he is pressured into retiring from the game he starts to question why.
Jonathan E’s triumph as an individual says more about American ideology than simple material wealth or corporate success. For that reason alone it is an important film 40 years after its release. More importantly, it is a very watchable film, not least because of the well-executed action sequences within the arena. Forget the pointless remake and treat yourself to the unmatched original. In so many ways it is as relevant now as it was in 1975.
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Format: DVD
"Rollerball" is a superb film, possibly one of the best I have ever seen. Not only does it portray a futuristic dystopia where tyrannical global corporations have replaced nation-states as the sources of economic and political power(a 1970's vision which is now a reality), but it is also a compelling action movie and a poignant parable about tyranny versus free will; the collective versus the individual.
James Caan puts in a memorable performance as Jonathan E , the ageing Rollerball champion, whose cult of personality eventually becomes too much of a threat to the shadowy corporate directors' social engineering schemes. Rollerball, a vicious indoor combination of Speedway, Gridiron and Ice Hockey ,is supposed not only to distract and brutalise the masses , but to highlight the importance of the collective and the insignificance of individual effort. It is whenever Jonathan E starts to defy the Corporation that he begins to face serious danger.
"Rollerball" has a similar theme to the films "Network" and "Soylent Green" and of course Orwell's novel "1984" . In all of them ,an heroic ,messianic male individual fights an impersonal, omnipotent corporate tyranny in the name of free will and humanity. "Rollerball"'s triumph is its combination of this morality theme with as much visceral ,dramatic action as you could hope for, as rule changes make Rollerball progressively more violent. The action scenes as Jonathan E's Houston team play Tokyo and New York are right up there with the best in cinema and the ending is both emotional and uplifting.
I have never watched the remake of "Rollerball", nor do I intend to. How could they possibly improve on this original ?
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Format: VHS Tape
It is not often that one can look back at a film considered violent when it first came out and still agree with that opinion. Today we are so desensitivised by the constant violence in film and television that most old, 'controversial' films seem laughable. Rollerball, however, still packs a considerable punch.
The film is visually stunning. Although many 70s views of the future now seem tawdry, Rollerball still manages to convey a good sense of the future by keeping it simple and, therefore, believable. The acting is superb, with an especially strong performance from John Beck as Jonathan's anarchic colleague Moonpie. The moral dilemma of Jonathan is intruiging, and is contrasted with the society's moral decline by a series of unnerving visual sequences.
My one problem with the film is that it sometimes does not go far enough. Certainly the implications of a society controlled by a few 'executives' could have been explored more fully. But this is a small quibble. The film is all about Rollerball, and as a film about Rollerball it works fantastically well. The game sequences are relentlessley edited, even by todays standards, and by the end of the final game you really feel that you have been watching something truly special. A real gem, and even today, one woth looking at.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
A definite 70's cult classic finally gets a wide Bluray release at a reasonable price unlike the previous Twilight edition via screen archives. This release by Arrow Films builds on the previous Twilight release, essentially porting the transfer and content but adding on the following documentaries;

Blood Sports with James Caan - A brand-new interview with the Rollerball star
The Fourth City: Shooting Rollerball in Munich Unit manager Dieter Meyer and others revisit the Audi Dome and other original locations
The Bike Work: Craig R. Baxley on the Motorcycle Stunts in Rollerball Stunt artist Baxley on the challenges and dangers of being one of the Rollerball bikers

There is also a new booklet for this 'Collectors Edition' which makes for a good read.

Unlike the Twilight time release, this is region B locked so a multi region bluray player would be required for non-uk or Australia buyers.

I hope this review helped you. If so, I would appreciate it if you clicked on the Yes button for a helpful review. If you have any questions, please ask. I am pretty responsive to comments
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