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Rollerball
Rollerball
Actors: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn
Director: Norman Jewison
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
R     1998     2hr 5min

The year is 2018. There are no wars. There is no crime. There is only...the Game. In a world where ruthless corporations reign supreme, this vicious and barbaric 'sport is the only outlet for the pent-up anger and frustra...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn
Director: Norman Jewison
Creators: Douglas Slocombe, Norman Jewison, Antony Gibbs, Patrick J. Palmer, William Harrison
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Futuristic, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/10/1998
Original Release Date: 06/25/1975
Theatrical Release Date: 06/25/1975
Release Year: 1998
Run Time: 2hr 5min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Letterboxed
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

Bob M. from HOUSTON, TX
Reviewed on 2/18/2015...
good story, excellent acting
Eric C. from SLIPPERY ROCK, PA
Reviewed on 8/12/2010...
This movie is great. It bogs down a little in the middle, gets a bit muddled at the party scene, but the movie is still great.
The ending is one of the best in film.

Movie Reviews

"This was never meant to be a game! Never!"
Paul Kyriazi | Los Angeles,, CA. United States | 12/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The rollerball game of the future was created for a special reason. "To show the futility of individual effort." To make anyone that wants to go his own way, bow dowm to the powers that be. James Cann, in one of his best roles, is Johnathan E, rollerball's super star. He's relaxed and friendly off the track, and a determined gladiator on. The action is great and strangly hypnotizing as skaters and motorcyclists race around a large circular track, trying to throw a steel metal ball into a basket.John Housman makes one of the best establishment heavys as he hints, demands, and threatens Johnathan to retire. For people that like gladiator movies, sports action, or the lone man trying to survive, Rollerball will excite you. You'll be shouting Johnathan's name along with the crowd. And after it's over, you'll feel like taking on the world. Yes, a great motivational movie as well. Pay no attention to remake. This is the one and only "Rollerball"."
Highly Underrated, Highly Accurate Look Forward
Conno | Melbourne, Australia | 06/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A friend came over the other night and poped the "Rollerball" DVD into the player - for a moment or two I grimaced, imagining some sort of .. poor 1970s version of "The Running Man" - little did I know it would be MUCH BETTER!Was I surprised when the movie that unfolded was more like a cross between the stories of "1984", the computer game "Syndicate", and the court case against Bill Gates.The story is about the fact that the world has evolved into a place where six major companies run everything, with very basic names: "Energy Corporation", "Leisure Corporation", "Food Corporation" etc., where each company has its own anthem and logo/colour scheme.The corporations control EVERYTHING, including the main pastime for the people of Earth, "The Game", Rollerball.Are you still with me? While it sounds very totalitarian, it is very realistic, with much of what goes on today reflected into this film...Anyway, the plot revolves around a champion of "The Game", Jonothan E., who is so great, so popular that the Corporations Committee becomes scared and decides to force him to quit. But Jonothan has other ideas - the Committee has already taken his wife away, now his career... It is all too much for him, and the film develops into a battle (both violent and covert) against the Committee of Corporations.A brilliant film which is about to be remade - directed by John McTiernan, the guy who did Die Hard, Predator, Hunt for Red October, 13th Warrior etc... But watch the original and be able to see what maes it a great film.The story is truly imaginative and clever, James Caan is brilliant, the art direction is great (winning a BAFTA). Watch this film, BUY IT!"
It's a better social commentary than science fiction film.
Brent A. Anthonisen | Alpharetta, GA, USA | 10/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Rollerball" (judged one of the best sports movies of all time by Sports Illustrated) is more than a sports movie (although in 1975 Norman Jewison was only guessing at the thrall in which superstar athletes such as James Caan's Jonathan E could hold the public; fans carry pictures of him to matches as though he were Chairman Mao or Yasser Arafat), more than an action movie (though the stunt sequences during the games rival those of "Mad Max"), and much more than Orwellian science fiction.
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The strengths of the movie lie in the way a society that is run from cradle to grave by corporations (rather than governments) is effectively portrayed as being both class-driven (director Norman Jewison uses the time-honored Hollywood trick of using actors with English accents to play the ruling corporate class, while the Rollerball players have working-class Southern U.S. drawls when they speak at all) as well as completely desensitized from all of humanity's pains through the creature comforts (including those of the recreational pharmaceutical variety) provided by the corporations.
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The public channels what remaining passion for violence that exists in their world through the game of Rollerball, allowing themselves to be deluded into thinking that the carnage going on in their arenas and on their Multivision sets is perfectly excusable becasue it is not perpetrated by men but by machines ("Don't be silly, they're made in Detroit"). There is some question to the validity of the game itself; after the first match shown on film (the quarterfinal game of the season, it seems), the coach of Jonathan's team remarks that they will play New York in the Final. Knowing that they still have a game to play before reaching the Final, this seems not in itself anything more than a coach inspiring the confidence of his team. But by indicating that New York will be the opponent (when presumably New York also has a semifinal match to play) would seem to indicate that the season is pre-scripted, not unlike WWE wrestling or the soccer seasons in the former East Germany.
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And no one, save Jonathan E (the sports greatest and by default most violent player), ever questions the idea that no one is allowed to make even the most basic decision for themselves (men and women don't seem to meet and fall in love; rather, couples are "assigned" to each other).
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In a telling moment, Jonathan and his ex-wife (Maud Adams; in the future all women are models) are talking about the "benefits" of corporate society; she remarks that civilization has always been a crusade against poverty. Jonathan makes the most Libertarian remark I've ever heard in a major motion picture when he believes that the luxuries of corporate society have succeeded in "buying off" its citizens, that the last decision society ever made was to be comfortable rather than free, which then enabled the corporations to take over everything.
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This has always been one of my favorite movies; when I was a kid I enjoyed it because of the action (American audiences have always ben more riveted by the game itself rather than the deeper philosophical meanings to the film), but as I've gotten older and more politically aware I have come to appreciate the underlying nefarious themes behind the game and have thus gained an even greater enjoyment of an already terrific film."