🎥 Rollerball – 1975
The Story …
In 2018, Jonathan E. is the team captain and veteran star of the Houston Rollerball team.
Mr. Bartholomew, chairman of the Energy Corporation – one of a series of corporations that now govern society – and team sponsor, offers Jonathan a lavish retirement package if Jonathan will announce his retirement during an upcoming television special detailing his career.
Jonathan refuses, and requests to see his former wife Ella, who had been taken from him some years earlier by a corporate executive who wanted her for himself.
Jonathan goes to a library, where he finds that all books have been digitized and edited to suit the corporations, and are now stored on supercomputers at large protected corporate locations. Jonathan’s friend and former coach Cletus, now an Energy executive, warns him that the Executive Committee is afraid of him, though he cannot find out why.
Rollerball soon degrades into senseless violence as the rules are changed to force Jonathan out. The semi-final match between Houston and Tokyo is played with no penalties and limited substitutions in the hope Jonathan will be injured and forced out. The brutality of the match kills several players and leaves Jonathan’s best friend and teammate Moonpie in a coma, though Houston wins the game.
In a teleconference, the Executive Committee decides that the next game will be played with no penalties, no substitutions, and no time limit in the hope that Jonathan will be killed during the game. Jonathan’s popularity and longevity as a player threaten the underlying agenda of Rollerball: to demonstrate the futility of individualism.
Jonathan makes his way to Geneva to access the world’s repository of all human knowledge, a central supercomputer known as “Zero,” only to find its memory corrupted. Afterwards, Jonathan receives a visit from his former wife Ella, who has been sent to convince him to retire and to make it clear that the coming game will be “to the death”.
Jonathan realizes his wife’s visit was set up by the Executives, and erases a long-cherished movie of the two of them, stating, “I just wanted you on my side.” Jonathan decides that despite the dangers, he will play in the championship game against New York.
The final match devolves into a brutal gladiatorial fight. Jonathan is soon the only player left on the track for Houston, while a skater and a biker remain from New York. After a violent struggle in front of Mr. Bartholomew’s box, Jonathan kills the skater and takes the ball. The biker charges, and Jonathan knocks him off the bike and pins the biker down.
He raises the ball over his head, then pauses. Refusing to kill his fallen opponent, Jonathan gets to his feet and makes his way to the goal, slamming the ball home and scoring the game’s only point.
Jonathan then takes a victory lap as the crowd chants his name, first softly, then slowly rising to a roar while Mr. Bartholomew hastily exits the stands …
- Directed by Norman Jewison
- Screenplay by William Harrison
- Based on “Roller Ball Murder” by William Harrison
- Produced by Norman Jewison
- Cinematography : Douglas Slocombe
- Edited by Antony Gibbs
- Music by André Previn
- Production Company : Algonquin Films
- Distributed by United Artists
- Release Date : June 25, 1975
- James Caan as Jonathan E.
- John Houseman as Mr. Bartholomew
- Maud Adams as Ella
- John Beck as ‘Moonpie’
- Moses Gunn as Cletus
- Pamela Hensley as Mackie
- Barbara Trentham as Daphne
- John Normington as Ballard, Team Executive
- Shane Rimmer as Rusty, Houston Team Executive & Head Coach
- Burt Kwouk as Japanese Doctor
- Nancy Bleier as Girl In Library
- Richard LeParmentier as Bartholomew’s Aide
- Robert Ito as Connor, Strategy Coach For Houston Team
- Ralph Richardson as The Librarian
Film Information Source :
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