Rollerball (1975) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • 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.

  • The year is 2018. There is no crime and there are no more wars. Corporations are now the leaders of the world, as well as the controllers of the people. A violent futuristic game known as Rollerball is now the recreational sport of the world, with teams representing various areas competing for the title of champion. The defending championship team, the Houston team led by the determined ten-year veteran Johnathan E., is looking to repeat as champions. However, Bartholomew, the sinister corporate head, wants Johnathan to retire, even though he is the most respected athlete of his time. Johnathan's rebellious quest will not come out with complications, both for him and his teammates, after he decides to continue playing despite Bartholomew's threats.

  • 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.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • It is the year 2018. There are no wars, poverty, or violence on the entire planet Earth. People get their frustrations out by watching and attending Rollerball games.

    The Houston team plays against Madrid and wins, with their star player Jonathan E doing most of the scoring. It's an extremely violent game, but the players thoroughly enjoy it. After the game, the men shower and the corporate executives, led by the pompous Mr. Bartholomew are congratulated. Jonathan E is requested by Bartholomew to come visit him the next day

    Houston, Texas in the future resembles a prosperous western European city from the late 20th century. Jonathan comes to visit Barthlomew and is informed he needs to retire, per Energy Corporation executives, but Jonathan resists

    Jonathan comes home by helicopter just outside of Houston in the piney woods of East Texas to a young lady provided to him by the corporation and his friend/trainer Clete. The lady leaves for Indianapolis on a whim.

    Jonathan is training the Rollerball team players, plus some newbies introduced.

    Jonathan and Moonpie visit a library hub in downtown Houston, because he's wanting to get information about the Energy Corporation. A library clerk reveals she cannot issue the books he's wanting because they are classified.

    Jonathan is back on his ranch and meets another young lady Daphne, also issued to him by the corporation.

    The Rollerball team is informed of the changes of the rules to the game of no penalties. Despite their objections, they are all reminded they are bound to a contract. All this is mainly due to the fact Jonathan refuses to quit.

    Jonathan is in a television studio being interviewed by a computer over the upcoming Rollerball game and his history of playing it. He is supposed to be following a script and the show is about his announced retirement. It is revealed that Bartholomew has been behind this interview

    The Rollerball team is exercising in a fitness room with a coach from the Tokyo team there to warn them about the karate and hapkido techniques they use, but the players shrug him off and declare their team as number one.

    Jonathan and Daphne attend a lavish cocktail party at a mansion in the piney woods of East Texas. No longer an area of hick towns and backwoodsmen, but a prosperous area catered to the wealthy. The guests are beautifully dressed and slightly drunk and strung out on aphrodisiac pills. Some guests overheard that the players are actually robots. Jonathan is warned once again by Bartholomew to quit and he still resists. Some of the party guests are outside shooting pine trees with a laser gun for fun.

    Jonathan is back at his ranch packed and ready to go. He wants Daphne to come along, but the Energy Corporation wants her back and she tells him he won't be back. Jonathan threatens her with his spiked glove that she better leave and not come back

    The players are now in Tokyo. The Tokyo team is beating all of them half to death. Moonpie takes a blow to the head by a spiked glove by one of the team members and is in a coma. A Japanese doctor tries to persuade Jonathan to sign for Moonpie to be removed from life support, but Jonathan refuses

    Bartholomew is on a televised video conference with various executives from the Energy Corporation about having Jonathan E removed from the game and for Rollerball to go back to its intended meaning and effort. All the men concur

    Jonathan is now in Geneva, Switzerland at the worlds largest computer bank to get information about the corporate wars and the decisions made by corporate executives. The computer malfunctions and fails to give him any straight answers.

    Jonathan's ex-wife Ella, whom the corporation removed from him, comes to visit him at his ranch. Ella tries to reassure Jonathan that the corporation took her away for a good reason and it was all over the game. She also tries to convince him to quit and that he'll die if he doesn't, with the new set of rules. Jonathan erases all video footage of he and Ella together and Ella leaves.

    The Rollerball team is now playing New York City. No substitutions, penalties, or time limits. Half the players end up knocked out or dead and Jonathan scores. The crowd chants his name and Mr. Bartholomew is furious. Jonathan skates endlessly, then the frame freezes and the credits roll.

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