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Rollerball (1975 film)

Rollerball (1975 film)

Overview
Rollerball is a 1975 American dystopian fiction
Utopian and dystopian fiction
The utopia and its offshoot, the dystopia, are genres of literature that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal world, or utopia, as the setting for a novel. Dystopian fiction is the opposite: creation of a nightmare world, or dystopia...

 film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 directed by Norman Jewison
Norman Jewison
Norman Frederick Jewison, CC, O.Ont is a Canadian film director, producer, actor and founder of the Canadian Film Centre. Highlights of his directing career include In the Heat of the Night , The Thomas Crown Affair , Fiddler on the Roof , Jesus Christ Superstar , Moonstruck , The Hurricane and The...

 from a screenplay by William Harrison
William Harrison (author)
William Neal Harrison is an American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter perhaps best known for writing the short story Roller Ball Murder which was made into the movie Rollerball in 1975....

, who adapted his own short story "Roller Ball Murder", which first appeared in 1973 in Esquire
Esquire (magazine)
Esquire is a men's magazine, published in the U.S. by the Hearst Corporation. Founded in 1932, it flourished during the Great Depression under the guidance of founder and editor Arnold Gingrich.-History:...

magazine.

In the film, the world of 2018 is a global corporate state, containing entities such as the Energy Corporation, a global energy monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 based in Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

 which deals with nominally-peer corporations controlling access to all transport, luxury, housing, communication, and food on a global basis.

The film's title is the name of a violent, globally popular sport around which the events of the film take place.
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Encyclopedia
Rollerball is a 1975 American dystopian fiction
Utopian and dystopian fiction
The utopia and its offshoot, the dystopia, are genres of literature that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal world, or utopia, as the setting for a novel. Dystopian fiction is the opposite: creation of a nightmare world, or dystopia...

 film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

 directed by Norman Jewison
Norman Jewison
Norman Frederick Jewison, CC, O.Ont is a Canadian film director, producer, actor and founder of the Canadian Film Centre. Highlights of his directing career include In the Heat of the Night , The Thomas Crown Affair , Fiddler on the Roof , Jesus Christ Superstar , Moonstruck , The Hurricane and The...

 from a screenplay by William Harrison
William Harrison (author)
William Neal Harrison is an American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter perhaps best known for writing the short story Roller Ball Murder which was made into the movie Rollerball in 1975....

, who adapted his own short story "Roller Ball Murder", which first appeared in 1973 in Esquire
Esquire (magazine)
Esquire is a men's magazine, published in the U.S. by the Hearst Corporation. Founded in 1932, it flourished during the Great Depression under the guidance of founder and editor Arnold Gingrich.-History:...

magazine.

The Game


In the film, the world of 2018 is a global corporate state, containing entities such as the Energy Corporation, a global energy monopoly
Monopoly
A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity...

 based in Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

 which deals with nominally-peer corporations controlling access to all transport, luxury, housing, communication, and food on a global basis.

The film's title is the name of a violent, globally popular sport around which the events of the film take place. It is similar to Roller Derby
Roller derby
Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short matchups in which both teams designate a scoring player who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team...

 in that two teams clad in body armor skate on roller skates
Roller skates
Roller skates are devices worn on the feet to enable the wearer to roll along on wheels. A first basic type of roller skate consists of a boot with four wheels with ball bearings, arranged in the same configuration as the wheels of a typical car.-History:...

 (some instead ride on motorcycles) around a banked, circular track. There, however, the similarity ends. The object of the game is to score points by the offensive team (the team in possession of the ball) throwing a softball
Softball
Softball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of 10 to 14 players. It is a direct descendant of baseball although there are some key differences: softballs are larger than baseballs, and the pitches are thrown underhand rather than overhand...

-sized steel ball into the goal, which is a magnetic, cone-shaped area inset into the wall of the arena. The team without possession of the ball is defensive and acts to prevent scoring. It is a full-contact sport in which players have considerable leeway to attack opposing players in order to take or maintain possession of the ball and to score points (in the overpopulated world of the original short story, the object of the game is to kill off the other players). In addition, each team has three players who ride motorcycles to which teammates can latch on and be towed. The player in possession of the ball must hold it in plain view at all times.

Rollerball teams, named after the cities in which they are based, are owned by the various global corporations. Energy Corporation sponsors the Houston team. The game is a substitute for all current team sport
Team sport
A team sport includes any sport which involves players working together towards a shared objective. A team sport is an activity in which a group of individuals, on the same team, work together to accomplish an ultimate goal which is usually to win. This can be done in a number of ways such as...

s and for warfare. While its ostensible purpose is entertainment, Mr. Bartholomew, a high-level executive of the Energy Corporation, describes it as a sport designed to show the futility of individual effort.

Plot


The film tells the story of Jonathan E (James Caan
James Caan
James Caan is an American actor. He is best known for his starring roles in The Godfather, Thief, Misery, A Bridge Too Far, Brian's Song, Rollerball, Kiss Me Goodbye, Elf, and El Dorado...

), the veteran star of the Energy Corporation's Houston team. By virtue of his stellar performance over the years, Jonathan has become the most recognizable Rollerballer in history; civilians all over the world recognize him on sight. This recognition is problematic for the hegemonic corporations. After another impressive performance in Houston's season-ending victory over the Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 team, Energy Corporation chairman Mr. Bartholomew (John Houseman
John Houseman
John Houseman was a Romanian-born British-American actor and film producer who became known for his highly publicized collaboration with director Orson Welles from their days in the Federal Theatre Project through to the production of Citizen Kane...

) congratulates the team and announces that the corporation, running out of ways to properly reward their champion, will feature Jonathan in a "multivision" special devoted to his career.

Mr. Bartholomew later reveals to Jonathan that the corporate executives want him to retire, and offers Jonathan a lavish retirement package including an incentive package featuring "privileges," the currency of the society, asking him to announce his retirement on his televised special. Mr. Bartholomew emphasizes the benefits of corporate-run society and the importance of respecting executive decisions, but does not reveal why the directorate wants Jonathan to retire. It is revealed that Jonathan was married to a woman, Ella (Maud Adams
Maud Adams
Maud Solveig Christina Wikström , known professionally as Maud Adams, is a Swedish actress, known for her roles as two different Bond girls: in The Man with the Golden Gun , and as the title character in Octopussy .-Early life:Adams was born Maud Solveig Christina Wikström in Luleå, Sweden, the...

), and that the marriage ended when she was promised to an executive.

The film revolves around the struggle of Jonathan to understand why he faces so much pressure to retire, which he ponders at his Texas ranch with his personal coach and his corporation-provided concubine. Jonathan gives advice to a group of up-and-coming Rollerball players, emphasizing the importance of skill and technique. He later tries to access some books from a library, but finds that the books have been classified, transcribed, and stored in one of the major corporate computer banks. Jonathan comforts himself at his ranch by watching video of his ex-wife, and finds that the corporation has sent him another concubine, Daphne.

For Jonathan, Rollerball soon degrades into senseless violence as the rules of upcoming games are made more dangerous in order to force Jonathan out one way or another. It is announced that the semi-final game versus the Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

 team will be played with no penalties and limited player substitutions, yet Jonathan refuses to yield and intends to play in the game. Summoned to the filming of his televised special, he struggles with Daphne and the host. An instructor insists on teaching the Houston team how to counter the Tokyo team's unorthodox martial arts skills, but the team, brimming with confidence, drowns him out with chants of "Houston!" The brutality of the match claims the lives of several players, including Houston's lead biker, Blue, and leaves Jonathan's best friend and teammate Moonpie (John Beck
John Beck (actor)
John Beck is an American actor. He grew up in Joliet, Illinois. Renowned as a gritty actor with plenty of presence on set, he is ultimately best-known worldwide for playing the role of Mark Graison in Dallas during the mid-1980s, but is also well-known for several other roles in which he...

) brain-dead. Jonathan defies a doctor in the Tokyo hospital, and insists on keeping Moonpie on life support and transporting him elsewhere to receive medical care.

The corporations hold an emergency meeting to discuss Jonathan's obstinate refusal to retire, and decide that the championship game against the New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 team will be played without penalties, player substitutions, or a time-limit, in the hope that Jonathan, if he decides to participate, will be killed during the course of the game. The executives' meeting reveals why they are demanding Jonathan's retirement: Rollerball was conceived not merely to slake bloodlust, but to demonstrate the futility of individualism. Jonathan's singular talent and longevity in the sport defeats the intended purpose of Rollerball.

After much personal introspection, and further delving into the true nature of the corporations that run the world, Jonathan decides he is going to play in the game despite the obvious dangers. Naturally, the final game quickly loses all semblance of order as players are crippled and/or killed in swift order. The crowd, raucous and energetic at the game's beginning, gradually become more and more subdued as the carnage builds and degrades to a gladiatorial "last man standing" event.

Towards the end, Jonathan is the last mobile member of the Houston team. Two players remain from New York. After a brief and violent struggle, Jonathan dispatches one of the players, then gets possession of the ball, grabs the last, helpless New York player by the collar and readies to fatally smite him as the crowd, both coaches and Mr. Bartholomew watch in complete silence.

With a moment's pause, Jonathan releases his opponent, slowly gets to his feet, and painfully makes his way to the goal, scoring for the last time.

Immediately following this Jonathan then starts to freely skate around the track in silent victory, and the coaches and fans of both teams start chanting "Jon-a-than!", first in a whisper and then gradually getting louder and louder as Jonathan continues to circle the track.

Seeing his worst fears unfolding Mr. Bartholomew hurries to exit the arena in blind panic, with the realization that Jonathan has essentially defeated the purpose of the game itself. As the cheering reaches a climax, the movie cuts to a sudden still of Jonathan, against the same music that opened the film, the Toccata from Bach's iconic Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

Cast

  • James Caan
    James Caan
    James Caan is an American actor. He is best known for his starring roles in The Godfather, Thief, Misery, A Bridge Too Far, Brian's Song, Rollerball, Kiss Me Goodbye, Elf, and El Dorado...

     as Jonathan E.
  • John Houseman
    John Houseman
    John Houseman was a Romanian-born British-American actor and film producer who became known for his highly publicized collaboration with director Orson Welles from their days in the Federal Theatre Project through to the production of Citizen Kane...

     as Bartholomew
  • Maud Adams
    Maud Adams
    Maud Solveig Christina Wikström , known professionally as Maud Adams, is a Swedish actress, known for her roles as two different Bond girls: in The Man with the Golden Gun , and as the title character in Octopussy .-Early life:Adams was born Maud Solveig Christina Wikström in Luleå, Sweden, the...

     as Ella
  • John Beck
    John Beck (actor)
    John Beck is an American actor. He grew up in Joliet, Illinois. Renowned as a gritty actor with plenty of presence on set, he is ultimately best-known worldwide for playing the role of Mark Graison in Dallas during the mid-1980s, but is also well-known for several other roles in which he...

     as Moonpie
  • Moses Gunn as Cletus
  • Pamela Hensley
    Pamela Hensley
    Pamela Gail Hensley is an American actress. She is best known for playing Princess Ardala on the 1979-1981 television series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and C.J...

     as Mackie
  • Barbara Trentham as Daphne
  • John Normington
    John Normington
    John Normington was an English actor who appeared widely on British television from the 1960s until the year of his death. Normington was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company performing in more than 20 RSC productions...

     as Executive
  • Shane Rimmer
    Shane Rimmer
    Shane Rimmer is a Canadian actor and voice actor, probably best known as the voice of Scott Tracy in Thunderbirds.He has mostly performed in supporting roles, frequently in films and television series filmed in the United Kingdom, having relocated to England in the late 1950s, initially performing...

     as Rusty, Team Executive
  • Burt Kwouk
    Burt Kwouk
    Burt Kwouk OBE , born Herbert Kwouk, is an English actor of Chinese descent, known for many television appearances and for his role as Cato in the Pink Panther films.-Career:...

     as Japanese Doctor
  • Nancy Bleier as Girl In Library
  • Richard LeParmentier
    Richard LeParmentier
    Richard LeParmentier is an American-born British actor, best known for his role as Admiral Motti in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and the acerbic police lieutenant Santino in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.-Life and career:...

     as Bartholomew's Aide
  • Robert Ito
    Robert Ito
    Robert Ito is a Canadian voice, television, and movie actor of Japanese decent.A Canadian actor of Japanese descent, Ito was, for many years, a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada before turning to acting in the mid-1960s...

     as Strategy Coach for Houston Team
  • Ralph Richardson
    Ralph Richardson
    Sir Ralph David Richardson was an English actor, one of a group of theatrical knights of the mid-20th century who, though more closely associated with the stage, also appeared in several classic films....

     as Librarian

Differences from the short story

Game rules differences
"Roller Ball Murder" Rollerball
The track is oval, with a long axis of 50 yards and a short axis of 30 yards The track is circular, approximately 50 yards in diameter
Teams consist of twenty players: ten roller skaters, five motorbike riders, and five runners (or clubbers) Teams are ten strong: three motorbike riders and seven skaters (five skaters + two catchers)
Points are scored when a team's runners manage to pass the opposing skaters, pick up a ball and pass it to one of their bikers Teams score by throwing or placing the ball into the goal, a small, conical, magnetic hole on the outer edge of the track
Balls are fired by several cannon (up to four will be in play at once in one game), in the same direction players skate, with the aim of hitting and disabling players from behind. In the last two games of the story, the balls are oblong, to increase the chance of hitting players There is apparently only one cannon, balls are fired in the opposite direction, are always spherical, and are used for scoring points
Games typically last two hours, with no rest periods Games have three periods of twenty minutes, with rest periods of two minutes in between
At the start, games with Jonathan E already have no substitutions and - in practice - no penalties. Other games, which he has heard about but not apparently seen, have no time limits or mixed sex teams No time limit, no penalties and no substitutions is only in place for the final game
Rule changes are presented as being made to satisfy the global audience's demand for more blood during games (Jonathan E dies at the end of the story) Rule changes are made to kill Jonathan E (Jonathan E lives at the end of the story)

Filming locations


Among the filming locations used was the Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle
Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle
Audi Dome is an arena in Sendling-Westpark, Munich, Germany. It is also known as Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle, named after the president of the Bavarian State Sport Association from 1955 to 1973...

 as arena, the then-new BMW Headquarters
BMW Headquarters
BMW Headquarters is a Munich landmark, which has been serving as world headquarters for the Bavarian automaker for over 30 years. It was declared a protected historic building in 1999. Extensive refurbishments commenced in 2004 and were completed in 2006....

 and Museum buildings in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, appearing as the headquarter buildings of Energy Corporation and at the Olympiapark, Munich
Olympiapark, Munich
The Olympiapark in Munich, Germany, is an Olympic Park which was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Found in the area of Munich known as the "Oberwiesenfeld" , the Park continues to serve as a venue for cultural, social, and religious events such as events of worship...

.

Music


The film is noteworthy for its use of classical music
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

 for establishing atmosphere, particularly the Toccata
Toccata
Toccata is a virtuoso piece of music typically for a keyboard or plucked string instrument featuring fast-moving, lightly fingered or otherwise virtuosic passages or sections, with or without imitative or fugal interludes, generally emphasizing the dexterity of the performer's fingers...

 from Bach
Bạch
Bạch is a Vietnamese surname. The name is transliterated as Bai in Chinese and Baek, in Korean.Bach is the anglicized variation of the surname Bạch.-Notable people with the surname Bạch:* Bạch Liêu...

's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, which is heard during the opening sequence and again during the film's climax, the Adagio in G minor
Adagio in G minor
The Adagio in G minor for violin, strings and organ continuo, is a neo-Baroque composition popularly attributed to the 18th-century Venetian master Tomaso Albinoni, but composed by the 20th-century musicologist and Albinoni biographer Remo Giazotto and based on the disputed discovery of a...

 by Albinoni/Giazotto, and the Largo from Shostakovich's
Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century....

 Symphony No. 5
Symphony No. 5 (Shostakovich)
The Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47, by Dmitri Shostakovich is a work for orchestra composed between April and July 1937. Its first performance was on November 21, 1937, in Leningrad by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra under Yevgeny Mravinsky...

.

Reception


Reviews for the film have been mostly positive. Variety
Variety (magazine)
Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

praised the film, calling the lead performances "uniformly tops." TV Guide
TV Guide
TV Guide is a weekly American magazine with listings of TV shows.In addition to TV listings, the publication features television-related news, celebrity interviews, gossip and film reviews and crossword puzzles...

gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, saying that "the performances of Caan and Richardson are excellent, and the rollerball sequences are fast-paced and interesting." James Rocchi of Netflix
Netflix
Netflix, Inc., is an American provider of on-demand internet streaming media in the United States, Canada, and Latin America and flat rate DVD-by-mail in the United States. The company was established in 1997 and is headquartered in Los Gatos, California...

 said in his review that "the combination of Roman Empire-styled decadence and violence mixed with a vision of a bizarre, loveless corporate future is evocative and unsettling."

On the other hand, Jay Cocks of Time Magazine
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

posted a negative review of the film, saying that Caan looked "unconvinced and uncomfortable" as Jonathan E.

The film currently has a 68% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

. A remake
Rollerball (2002 film)
Rollerball is a 2002 remake of the 1975 science-fiction film of the same name. This updated version stars Chris Klein, LL Cool J, Rebecca Romijn and Jean Reno, was directed by John McTiernan and has a much greater concentration on action with more muted social and political overtones...

 was released in 2002, directed by John McTiernan
John McTiernan
John Campbell McTiernan, Jr. is an American film director and producer, best known for his action films and most identifiable with the three films he directed back-to-back: Predator, Die Hard, and The Hunt for Red October, along with later movies such as Last Action Hero, Die Hard with a...

, the director of Die Hard
Die Hard
Die Hard is a 1988 American action film and the first in the Die Hard film series. The film was directed by John McTiernan and written by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza. It is based on a 1979 novel by Roderick Thorp titled Nothing Lasts Forever, itself a sequel to the book The Detective, which...

, and starring L.L. Cool J, Chris Klein
Chris Klein (actor)
Frederick Christopher "Chris" Klein is an American movie actor. He is perhaps best known for playing Chris "Oz" Ostreicher in the 1999 film American Pie and its sequel American Pie 2.-Early life:...

, and Jean Reno
Jean Reno
Jean Reno is a French actor. Working in French, English, Spanish and Italian, he has appeared not only in numerous successful Hollywood productions such as The Pink Panther, Godzilla, The Da Vinci Code, Mission: Impossible, Ronin and Couples Retreat, but also in European productions such as the...

. The remake received universally negative responses from critics; its approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes
Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films—widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at a poor stage performance...

 is 3%.

American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

 Lists
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills - Nominated
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers - Nominated
  • AFI's 10 Top 10
    AFI's 10 Top 10
    AFI's 10 Top 10 honors the ten greatest American films in ten classic film genres. Presented by the American Film Institute , the lists were unveiled on a television special broadcast by CBS on June 17, 2008....

     - Nominated Science Fiction Film

In popular culture

  • The short story was presented in audio form on the '70s American Sci-Fi radio program called Mindwebs.
  • IJK Software based its Commodore 64
    Commodore 64
    The Commodore 64 is an 8-bit home computer introduced by Commodore International in January 1982.Volume production started in the spring of 1982, with machines being released on to the market in August at a price of US$595...

     game Rocketball
    Rocketball (computer game)
    Rocketball is a Commodore 64 computer game released by IJK Software in 1985. Rocketball was coded by John Sinclair and has music by L Pilling.-Summary:...

    (1985) on Rollerball.
  • Speedball
    Speedball (video game)
    Speedball is a video game series based on a violent futuristic cyberpunk sport that draws on elements of handball and ice hockey, and rewards violent play as well as goals. Three games were developed by the Bitmap Brothers, and a fourth by Kylotonn...

    (1988), developed by the Bitmap Brothers
    Bitmap Brothers
    The Bitmap Brothers were a UK based video game developer founded in 1987. The company entered the industry in 1988 with the scrolling shooter Xenon. They quickly followed with the classic Speedball...

     for the Amiga
    Amiga
    The Amiga is a family of personal computers that was sold by Commodore in the 1980s and 1990s. The first model was launched in 1985 as a high-end home computer and became popular for its graphical, audio and multi-tasking abilities...

     and later ported to other systems, bears many similarities to Rollerball and includes specific references to the film, such as Jonathan E tapping his knuckles before the start of a game.
  • In the videogame Rocky Legends, close to the arena in Times Square
    Times Square
    Times Square is a major commercial intersection in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets...

     there is a theater with a large Rollerball billboard
    Billboard (advertising)
    A billboard is a large outdoor advertising structure , typically found in high traffic areas such as alongside busy roads. Billboards present large advertisements to passing pedestrians and drivers...

     with the tagline (In the future...).
  • In the cyberpunk manga Battle Angel Alita
    Battle Angel Alita
    Battle Angel Alita, known in Japan as , is a manga series created by Yukito Kishiro in 1990 and originally published in Shueisha's Business Jump magazine. Two of the nine-volume comics were adapted into two anime original video animation episodes titled Battle Angel for North American release by...

    , Motorball
    Motorball
    Motorball, a fictional sport played in Battle Angel Alita and Ashen Victor, and the favorite pastime of the citizens of the Scrapyard. Functionally, it serves an important role in society as it allows viewers to temporarily forget the despair of their situation...

     is a popular, bloody sport based on Rollerball.
  • The music video for Rock the House
    Rock the House
    "Rock the House" is a song from the Gorillaz self-titled debut album, Gorillaz. It was released as the third single from the album in October 2001. It peaked at #18 on the UK Singles Chart. The song is one of the more hip hop-oriented songs on the album, along with "Clint Eastwood"...

    by the Gorillaz
    Gorillaz
    Gorillaz is an English musical project created in 1998 by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett. This project consists of Gorillaz music itself and an extensive fictional universe depicting a "virtual band" of cartoon characters...

     is based on a combination of the films Mr. Freedom
    Mr. Freedom
    Mr. Freedom is a 1969 film by American expatriate photographer and filmmaker William Klein. In addition to starring popular French actor Delphine Seyrig, this anti-imperialist satirical farce features cameos by well-known actors Donald Pleasence and Philippe Noiret, as well as musician Serge...

    and Rollerball
  • The Devo Corporate Anthem
    Duty Now for the Future
    -Compact disc releases:* The 1993 UK CD issue on Virgin paired this album with New Traditionalists and included Devo's cover of Allen Toussaint's "Working in the Coal Mine" from the movie Heavy Metal that was included in the original LP album release of New Traditionalists.* The 1995 US CD issue...

    music and video are a nod to the film.
  • In episode 4 "Now You Coliseum, Now You Don't" of the 2008 British Animated television series the Chop Socky Chooks
    Chop Socky Chooks
    Chop Socky Chooks is a British animated television series produced by Aardman Animations and DHX Media that debuted on 7 March 2008. It was created by animator Sergio Delfino, a prominent animator at Aardman. It currently airs only on Teletoon . For now, it airs on Cartoon Network, previously aired...

    features the villain Dr. Wasabi capturing the story's protagonists, forcing them to play a game similar to Rollerball. The episode's plot is similar to the plot of the original Rollerball movie.
  • The board game Blood Bowl
    Blood Bowl
    Blood Bowl is a Fantasy Football game created by Jervis Johnson for the British games company Games Workshop as a parody of American Football. The game was first released in 1987 and has been re-released in new editions since...

    and derivative video games combines the action of American football
    American football
    American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

     with the violent aspects of this film.
  • The UK comedy show "The Goodies
    The Goodies (TV series)
    The Goodies is a British television comedy series of the 1970s and early 1980s. The series, which combines surreal sketches and situation comedy, was broadcast by BBC 2 from 1970 until 1980 — and was then broadcast by the ITV company LWT for a year, between 1981 to 1982.The show was...

    ", used Rollerball as a premise for the episode "2001 & A Bit". As Rollerball was not exciting to the audience, they created a new version, called Rolleregg, a mix between Rollerball and an egg-and-spoon race.
  • In the 1984 movie The Ice Pirates
    The Ice Pirates
    The Ice Pirates is a 1984 comedy/science-fiction film. It was directed by Stewart Raffill , who co-wrote the screenplay with Krull author Stanford Sherman. The movie stars Robert Urich and Mary Crosby...

    the characters are seen watching Rollerball (match sequences) as if a real sport.
  • In the 2000 episode of The Simpsons
    The Simpsons
    The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

    , Bart to the Future
    Bart to the Future
    "Bart to the Future" is the seventeenth episode of the eleventh season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 19, 2000. In the episode, after their vacation in the woods is cut short due to a mosquito infestation, the...

    , President Lisa Simpson
    Lisa Simpson
    Lisa Marie Simpson is a fictional main character in the animated television series The Simpsons. She is the middle child of the Simpson family. Voiced by Yeardley Smith, Lisa first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening...

     is seen honoring the players of the Negro Leagues of Rollerball.
  • In the episode "The Red Ball" of The Boondocks
    The Boondocks (TV series)
    The Boondocks is an American animated series created by Aaron McGruder on Cartoon Network's late night programing block, Adult Swim, based on McGruder's comic strip of the same name...

    , the final scene of the kickball match is a nod to the final scene of Rollerball.

See also

  • Death Race 2000
    Death Race 2000
    Death Race 2000 is a 1975 cult action film directed by Paul Bartel, and starring David Carradine, Simone Griffeth and Sylvester Stallone. The film takes place in a dystopian American society in the year 2000, where the murderous Transcontinental Road Race has become a form of national entertainment...

    , a dystopian science-fiction sports film released two months before Rollerball
  • Futuresport
    Futuresport
    Futuresport is a made-for-TV movie directed by Ernest Dickerson, starring Dean Cain, Vanessa Williams, and Wesley Snipes. It originally aired on ABC in October 1998, and released on DVD in March 1999....

    , a 1998 TV-movie with a similar premise.
  • Rollerball
    Rollerball (2002 film)
    Rollerball is a 2002 remake of the 1975 science-fiction film of the same name. This updated version stars Chris Klein, LL Cool J, Rebecca Romijn and Jean Reno, was directed by John McTiernan and has a much greater concentration on action with more muted social and political overtones...

    , a 2002 remake.

External links