TV & Film
The Bloody Pit #64 - ROLLERBALL (1975)
Randy Fox returns to the podcast and we resume our discussion of the science fiction films of the 1970's. It's been over a year since the two of us sat down for a long talk about the incredible SF movies made before STAR WARS warped the genre out of shape but it felt like it was just last week. One reason for that is our topic in this episode is an under sung classic that appeals to the more mature in the audience than to the under twenty set. As people who first encountered ROLLERBALL as kids we can attest that our younger selves enjoyed the action set-pieces but that many of the more adult concepts flew over our heads. But watching this film in middle age certainly brings home just how profound and thoughtful it is. The best science fiction often holds up a dark mirror to our lives and asks question about the human condition that resonate because of their timelessness. The bloody violence on display has much to say about who we are in the real 2018 as it does about the movie's fiction 21st century.
Our discussion of the film touches on the career of director Norman Jewison and the script's fidelity to the source material. Credit has to go to Jewison for bringing in the original short story author William Harrison to craft the screenplay. We talk about the actors' performances with attention paid to lead James Caan's ability to convey the depths of a man without the words to express himself clearly. We dig into the future society of the movie and how it's structure resembles other literary dystopian visions from Brave New World, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 while marveling at the detailed game system set up to make Rollerball a sport that feels realistic. Plus, any film with Ralph Richardson complaining that the planet's computer system has misplaced the whole history of the 13th century is worth seeing!
Join us for this return to smart science fiction where ideas are presented in intelligent ways even as heads get busted and people are set on fire! Send any comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org where we'll be happy to learn your thoughts on the SF films made before Star Wars. Thank you for downloading and listening.
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