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Rollerball-Special Edition [VHS] 
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In the year 2018, the world is ruled by corporate powers and one of the principle forms of entertainment is Rollerball, a fast paced sport played around a circular track. When the reigning champion (James Caan) becomes too popular, and refuses the corporation's request that he retire, the rules of the sport are changed in a deliberate attempt to get rid of him - the contestants now find themselves engaged in a game where the main objective is to kill your opponent.
In the year 2018, violence and crime have been totally eliminated from society and given outlet in the brutal blood sport of rollerball, a high-velocity blend of football, hockey, and motor-cross racing sponsored by the multinational corporations that now control the world following the collapse of traditional politics. James Caan plays Jonathan ., the reigning superstar of rollerball, whose corporate controllers fear that Jonathan's popularity has endowed him with too much power. They begin to pressure him according to their own ruthless set of rules, but Jonathan has rules of his own--ones for a man determined to retain his soul in a world gone mad. As directed by Norman Jewison (who was enjoying a peak of success during the early and mid-1970s), Rollerball creates a believable society that's been rendered passive and compliant by the homogenisation of corporate dictatorships, where the control and flow of information is the only currency of any importance. It's a world in which natural human aggressions have been sublimated and vented through the religious fervour toward rollerball and its players. Rollerball now looks like one of those 1970s science fiction films (another example being Logan's Run) that seems a bit dated and quaint, but its ideas are still provocative and fascinating, and the production is visually impressive. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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 ?
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.
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Saw this film when it first came out. It really has not dated the music score really
10 minutes are missing from the original film.
UK company wanted to lower the rate so they just simply cut the 10 minutes away just like that!!
I remember Rollerball as Seventies violence. I watched it last night as social enlightenment. “They buy you off with their Privilege Card,” says the challenging James Caan. Read morePublished 4 months ago by ...
Ghastly, ponderous, hollow, self-important tosh. This is one of the worst 'classic sci-fi' films I've ever seen. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Bagpuss
was well ahead of its time, now the present starts to make you think what the future holdsPublished 4 months ago by Mr. Keith Cowen