IN THE FUTURE! Sport has evolved; they’re not just kicking balls over goals and slapping pucks into nets! They’ve now got ROLLERBALL! It’s like Mad Max meets Roller Derby inside a pinball machine! The face of Rollerball comes in the form of John E. (James Caan), a season pro who leads the Houston team to Tokyo for the Semi-Finals. Or so he thinks…
Rollerball seems to have some shady background politics, the man behind Rollerball Mr. Bartholomew (John Houseman) believes Johns retirement from the sport is best for business. It will also be the edge that they’re looking for with an upcoming television special on John’s career. When John shows resistance against Bartholomew’s master plan people around him suffer…
Rollerball is a great look into the life of a star player becoming a broken man by the increasing pressure of the company that made him famous. James Caan is excellent, he’s got that great look on him, he knows something shady is going on, but he can’t help but think about the people missing from his life and who took them from him.
The seventies interruption of the future wasn’t as horrific as you can image, yes we’ve got plenty of very brightly coloured corridors (the colour orange must have been on offer) and even Mr. Bartholomew’s office, white as snow and surrounded by long icicle like sheets of glass hung from the ceiling.
The actual Rollerball matches are superbly choreographed, these poor stuntmen having to weave in and about men on motorbikes, but the bikers aren’t any safer – you get to see some great shots of players delivering dropkicks to the men on bikes! They take some nasty spills, but it’s totally engrossing to watch. Over the course of the film we witness three Rollerball matches and as you can expect the finale when Houston take on New York turns into utter chaos! It’s ace!
One of the best quotes that should have been over all of the marketing materials comes from the final match as they’re dragging bodies off the track; “Game? This wasn’t meant to be a game. NEVER.”
For the Arrow Blu-Ray release of Rollerball (almost 40 years later) we’re given an excellent selection of special features. There’s half a dozen featurettes that date back from interviews filmed on set comparing rollerball to the Roman gladiators. There’s original Making of Rollerball feature from 2001 – where a majority of the crew tells tales of the production, casting etc.
More recent features include; Blood Sports with James Caan – a ten minute interview on James experiences working on Rollerball, his thoughts on the films message and how he trained for the role. The Fourth City is another near ten minute feature which was filmed for this release of the movie, production scouts returned to the original filming locations in Munich and give you a history of the building and how they adapted the building to create their arena and the lengths they had to go to fill the building! How many Asians do you expect were in Munich during the seventies?
Of course we’re given original theatrical trailer and television spots. Both lackered with J.S. Bach’s; Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.
We’re given two audio commentaries, one from the director Norman Jewison and a second commentary from the films writer William Harrison.
Overall, a excellent release of a stand out futuristic sci-fi classic, ranked amongst the greats!