In this personal future, society isn't glitz & glamour. There's no flying cars or voice-activated refrigerators. Simple fabrics and uniforms breathe life in a game that very well could be with its thought out rule system and view on extreme violence in the media. Rollerball isn't that futuristic game of death to boost ratings - this game is to create a view of futility in individual effort. That is, until Jonathan E. becomes the first man since the halt of the corporate wars to spiral in popularity.
Jonathan E.'s character deals with some trials & tribulations and the theme of this film is his rebellion to an evil corporation. His defiance is not one of the explosive types where he - a single man - barges into HQ armed to the teeth with weapons. He has a gentle defiance to him. His unsatisfied smirk the entire movie reads "You're really an asshole...". He is just a man who has lost it all and chooses to fight back with the only way he knows how to.
Rollerball is a brave visioning of a new world based on a short story. It's regards towards the future and censorship feels awfully similar to that of Fahrenheit 451. Don't let the year 2018 fool you, this future could be highly possible. In a utopia where nobles are referred to as "Executives", this science-fiction monarchy phases me as being unsettling. I don't think I'd sacrifice much for endless luxury. One scene of drug-addled women taking a gun armed with explosives and destroying the last remnants of nature strikes me in too many senses. This masquerade of humanity is far too disquieting, even for my eyes.
Rhetorical female conversations sit upon this films masterpiece. When women aren't being used as spies or moles, they are viewed as lying and cheating whores. E.'s own wife got taken by an Executive but all the reasons for this personal tragedy do not make it acceptable. Females are often viewed in this film destroying beautiful things with a deranged look of sheer madness. Rollerball is a testament to that myth that women love "bad boys" as they themselves have a stark interest in violence.
Rollerball is a classic that fits within it's own confines. It is violent and unflinching and it is the anti-exploitation film to counter the likes of Death Race 2000. I miss the times when social commentary was the film and not a condiment on the side. James Caan plays an amazing performance as his restlessness and inner rage break through his calm exterior. Rollerball is a must-see dystopian piece of 70's cinema.