Rollerball (1975) (1975)
November 10, 2022 10:38 AM - Subscribe

In the distant future of 2018 there are no nations, only monopolistic corporations. An ultra-violent arena sport known as Rollerball keeps the masses entertained. After ten years of smashing faces for Houston, star player Jonathan E begins to suspect there might be something unfair about the whole thing.

Rollerball (1975) director Norman Jewison slams "violent" 2001 remake

Roller Ball Murder (.pdf) by William Neal Harrison, originally published in Esquire magazine, 1973

When the shooting ended, they arranged a full, no holds barred match and separated into two teams. "It never lasted more than 25 or 30 seconds," says Caan. "It was just one fight after another." - The Guardian, 1999

A librarian's critique of the scenes set, not on the blood-soaked inclined track, but in the libraries of the future. "So I’m pausing in the middle of their conversation to have a moment of silence for the “poor old 13th century” that just got wiped out. RIP, 13th century, RIP."

Your soundtrack for reading the above links: Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Where to watch: US, UK
posted by Molesome (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
$5 more to MeFi. More info here. More than half the slots are gone!
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:43 AM on November 10, 2022

Fuuuuuuuuuck that story rules
posted by infinitewindow at 1:04 PM on November 10, 2022

As a kid, I probably watched this a dozen times without ever actually internalizing the story. The matches were a blast to watch. John Beck's "Moonpie" is a lot of unassuming fun. Wasn't a huge fan of Caan's laconic line delivery, but I feel like I understand that acting choice better now than I did at 13.
posted by hanov3r at 1:38 PM on November 10, 2022

Same. Though when I watched it recently as an adult the whole individual vs the world story didn't hold up nearly as well for me. Jonathan's pride gets everyone on his team and the other finals team badly injured. Though I do love this moment.
posted by kokaku at 4:36 PM on November 10, 2022

Gladiator comes along later and does a better job at a smaller scale, albeit with similar results.

Rollerball just leaves it ambiguous as to whether Jonathan E's efforts even move the societal dial or if everyone just sits back and goes "whoa, crazy final this season, eh? What'll they do for next year?"
posted by Molesome at 1:08 AM on November 11, 2022

There was a whole stage in near-future SF movies where the power structure would provide assigned sex worker companions to powerful men, with varying levels of consent for the sex workers in question. This is one of them; Soylent Green is another. I don't know if it's some fallout from response to the women's liberation movement and the more openly-sexually-active times or what.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:59 AM on November 14, 2022

I think it was just regular old sexism, rmd. Women were sexy props more than people in a lot of early SF.
posted by emjaybee at 9:32 AM on November 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

It was the New Hollywood era, and the sexist filmmakers wanted to show that they were edgy.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:48 AM on November 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Science fiction often tells you a whole lot about the culture it comes from.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:18 PM on November 14, 2022

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