Norman Jewison’s sensational futuristic drama about a world of Corporate States stars James Caan in an excellent performance as a famed athlete who fights for his identity and free will. The $5 million film was made in Munich and London.
The year is 2018, and the world has been regrouped politically to a hegemony of six conglomerate cartels. There is total material tranquility: no wars, no poverty, no unrest – and no personal free will and no God.
The ingenious way of ventilating human nature’s animal-violence residual content is the world sport of rollerball, a combination of roller derby, motorcycle racing and basketball where violent death is part of the entertainment. Caan is a long-standing hero of the sport, becoming dangerously popular. He is ordered to retire. He refuses. Tilt.
The very fine music track was supervised and conducted by Andre Previn, utilizing excerpts from Bach, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Albinoni/Giazotto, plus original Previn work which included the corporate anthems which begin each game.
The performances of the principals are uniformly tops. Besides the great work of Caan, John Houseman and Ralph Richardson (as head of the corporation), John Beck is excellent as the model yahoo jock. As the women in Caan’s life, Maud Adams, Pamela Hensley and Barbara Trentham step right out of today’s deodorant and cosmetics teleblurbs – just the way they’re supposed to be when life imitates consumer advertising imagery.