It was never meant to be a game...Jonathan E. meets the ultimate computer, "Zero". While Zero does not control men as in Alphaville but is the holder of all information and the "librarian" rambles on about them losing all the computers that held the information from the 1300s. All books were already transcribed into the computers and only corporate executives could access the information and are the deciders in the society. There were 5 corporations in control in this world. Zero was to indicate the beginning and the end-according to the director. Hal from 2001 was supposedly the inspiration for the computer Zero. Zero is the container of the "water of history".
The governing structure is so unrealistic and comical. I guess it is one big corporation that controls all aspects of life and for propaganda (control of the proletariat) they devised the game Rollerball. But like any propaganda, there is bond to be unexpected consequences or misinterpretation of the signals. Supposedly it was to show the futility of one man and only teamwork will win in the end. But any one watching the "FANS" of a game can see this behavior is more likely to instill a sense of violence than it is to squelch such actions. And we do get to see not only the outward actions of violence but fan on fan violence.
The person that praises the insights from this movie is "War"-ren so it understandable that such glorified violence would be the type of film he would so identify. But another aspect that goes against the "Liberal" mentality is that in this futuristic world everyone is provided for all their needs as in positive rights. This seems to be an Utopian world vision that Libs are always trying to achieve. Thus I have to wonder what this film really means for ren.
In the year 2018 violence has been outlawed and corporations have replaced government as the ruling party following the demise of politics. With the absence of war or conflict, a forcibly passive population's bloodlust is satisfied by a brutal new sport known as Rollerball. A high-octane melding of the outlawed sports of the past, the worldwide phenomenon of Rollerball has resulted in a corporate-backed sensation. The most popular athlete in the world, Jonathan E. (James Caan) has steadily risen through the ranks to become a legendary veteran of the sport. When the corporate backers of Rollerball begin to fear that Jonathan's popularity has instilled him with a potentially dangerous amount of power, a thunderous struggle between man's free will and the oppression of the masses threatens to shatter the fragile strings that the puppet masters use to manipulate mankind. His determination to remain with the sport flying in the face of the very reason Rollerball was conceived, the corporate rulers hatch a plot to abandon the rules in hopes that Jonathan will be killed and their grip of power will remain an unyielding chokehold on an increasingly bloodthirsty populace. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie GuideIf the director, writer, and producer were trying to not glorify violence, they failed miserably. Obscene violence attacking violence is a complete excuse for making the film. It was really nothing more than a snuff film with the excuse being that it was controlled by corporations. The whole game could have easily been written as a Great Socialist State as in 1984, or a Fascist State.
Running Time: 125 mins
The most ridiculous scene for me was the shotting of the trees. While the director thinks it portrays destruction of nature, every scene outside and Jonathan's ranch was a large spread with no environmental degradation. He claims the trees were 125 to 150 years old that the lusty individuals blow up with the gun, but by the rings of branches only shows about 20 years old and the diameter of the trees would indicate less than 30 years old also. Ultimately it was just a few rich people having fun blowing up a few trees, and that from the surrounding area indicates to me that they would quickly be replaced.
Note the commentator and director for the film's special features was Norman Jewison which was recorded in 1997, December.