6.6/10
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175 user 109 critic

Rollerball (1975)

In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.

Director:

Norman Jewison

Writer:

William Harrison (screenplay)
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Caan ... Jonathan E.
John Houseman ... Bartholomew
Maud Adams ... Ella
John Beck ... Moonpie
Moses Gunn ... Cletus
Pamela Hensley ... Mackie
Barbara Trentham ... Daphne
John Normington ... Executive
Shane Rimmer ... Rusty, Team Executive
Burt Kwouk ... Japanese Doctor
Nancy Bleier ... Girl in Library
Richard LeParmentier ... Bartholomew's Aide (as Rick LeParmentier)
Robert Ito ... Strategy Coach for Houston Team
Ralph Richardson ... Librarian
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Storyline

In a futuristic society where corporations have replaced countries, the violent game of Rollerball is used to control the populace by demonstrating the futility of individuality. However, one player, Jonathan E., rises to the top, fights for his personal freedom, and threatens the corporate control. Written by Jeff Hansen <jmh@umich.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The next World War will not be fought. It will be PLAYED. See more »

Genres:

Action | Sci-Fi | Sport

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 June 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Роллербол See more »

Filming Locations:

Frankfurt, Germany See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$30,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Algonquin See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The rollerball game sequences were filmed in the Basketballhalle (now known as the Audi Dome) at Olympiapark in Munich, West Germany. This was the only sports arena in the world with a nearly circular profile, which the production could take over and redress for shooting. See more »

Goofs

In the New York game, #9 is left off Houston's board supposedly out of respect for Moonpie. However, another player is seen on the track wearing the Houston #9 shirt during the game. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Pregame announcer: Good evening everyone! And welcome to Houston, the energy city, home of the defending Rollerball World Champions. This key international battle pits the divisional champions, visiting Madrid, against powerful Houston. - - And here they come to a standing ovation. On the track comes Houston! Houston, lead by captain Jonathan E, again their leading scorer this year.
See more »

Connections

Featured in I Love the '70s: Volume 2: 1975 (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Waltz
(uncredited)
from ballet "Sleeping Beauty"
Composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Genius is energy
8 October 2006 | by krorieSee all my reviews

This much neglected futuristic film from the 70's deserves a second look. Like "A Clockwork Orange" the amoral violent future "Rollerball" showcases is in reality a projection of the amoral violent present at the time of its creation. The movie lampoons the dress, fashion, and look of the 70's decade, spoofs the Texas cowboy ethos of the period, and takes jibes at the deification of athletics, in particular football, which dominates American culture and to some extent world culture. Comparisons can be made between Rollerball mores and the mores of the hedonistic Romans where humans were gnawed to death by hungry animals in the arenas and gladiators fought to their deaths in the Colosseum as crazed spectators cheered and slobbered as they ate their daily bread. "Rollerball" even foreshadowed the political correctness of the 1990's with the generic Bach-like Corporate Anthem played before each game.

When the film was produced, roller derbies were hot items on TV and attended by large gatherings of blood-thirsty fans who egged on the pugilistic elements participating. Jim Croce even had a hit record parodying the game, "Roller Derby Queen." Add bikes, spike-studded gloves, the roller ball, change a few rules and there's Rollerball.

One of the more interesting elements of "Rollerball" is how it differs from the futuristic societies depicted in the two classics, "1984" and "Brave New World." Rather than Big Brother watching you, an anonymous board of directors who run a corporate global conglomeration rule the world. No one, apparently not even their spokesperson, who is also the manager of the Rollerball team, Bartholomew (John Houseman), even knows who the directors are. The vote is taken via closed circuit TV. A soma-like substance is taken to induce dreams and visions but is used sparingly, unlike in Brave New World. And instead of book burning utilized by traditional totalitarian governments, books are hidden away. The only way to read one is to view a summarized and sanitized version, à la "Reader's Digest," on a computer.

Acting honors go to the consummate Thespian John Houseman as the corporate spokesperson. His facial expressions alone convey what few actors can communicate with all their skills. James Caan as superstar of Rollerball, Jonathan E., gives one of his best performances on the big screen. John Beck incarnates a Houston redneck appropriately named Moonpie with all his pride and prejudices. The weakest part of "Rollerball" is the lame attempt at romance in a nondescript relationship involving husbands and lovers. Therefore, the women roles are ill defined and not well written. The only important part for a woman in "Rollerball" is when a pistol is used to set trees ablaze making the depletion of the rain forests seem like child's play.

The story concerns Rollerball idol of millions, Jonathan E., who for some unknown reason the corporate ladder orders to retire at the height of his career. The big game between Jonathan's Houston and Tokyo is coming up to determine the world championship. The global conglomerate suspends the penalty rule and limits the substitutions making it a fight to the finish. Disobeying the command to leave the game, Jonathan E. puts total effort into winning, even causing a small riot of the Japanese fans. Will Jonathan survive his assault on city hall (the Conglomeration), or will he die in the quest?

The dazzling camera work by Douglas Slocombe with emphasis on icy white interiors and cold shades of white exterior structures delivers the images director Norman Jewison intended. The angles and movements during the games as well as the closeup shots enhance the viewers enjoyment of the action scenes.

Oh, and Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor is as mesmerizing as ever.


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