Sci-Fi film released in 1975. Directed by Norman Jewison, adapted from The Rollerball Murders, a book by William Harrison.

The film is set in the early part of the 21st Century. After a gigantic series of world wars, there are no more countries or governments, only Corporations. To replace the public's lust for war, and to release intercorporate aggression, the Corporations have got together and created The Game: Rollerball. See Rules of Rollerball for an explanation of the game.

The film focuses around Jonathan E (played by James Caan, with exactly the right mixture of practical intelligence and brutality), a star Rollerball player for the Houston Power City corporation. He has been in Rollerball for ten years without a fatal or permanently crippling injury, a record, and has led his team to countless victories. The public love him, and therein lies the problem.

The game was created to show that individual effort was futile; only through cooperation and self-sacrifice can success be obtained. In a team, individuals come and go, live and die, but the team continues. Through his longevity and popularity, Jonathan E has become a hero, something not seen since before the corporate age. The corporations find this threatening, but as Jonathan is too high profile to just bunk off, they try to force him to retire.

For various reasons, mostly involving the corporation 'taking' his wife away to be married to a top executive years earlier, Jonathan refuses to retire. The corporation then plunge his team into increasingly lethal games, removing all the rules in the hope that Jonathan will die during a game. The final game has no fouls, no time limit; the only way it can end is through the death of all players on one team. The ending is like a moment frozen in time.

The sequences of film showing the game are phenomenal; it's fast, brutal and suprisingly believable and well thought out (see rules). The non-game sequences suffer by comparison, seeming overly quiet and slow paced. A subplot sees Jonathan trying to find out anything about life before the corporate age, and invariably reaching a dead end, with echoes of 1984. The future is shown very much as an illusarily utopic dystopia, with a large class divide between the citizens and the executives, who can basically do and have whatever they want.

I first game across this film due to a childhood love of Speedball and Speedball 2 on the Amiga, both of which owe Rollerball their existence.

The film is currently being remade by John McTiernan, who also remade (well, I should add) Jewison's classic The Thomas Crown Affair. Chris Klein is cast as Jonathan Cross, with supporting roles from Jean Reno, LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. Early leaked photos made the whole thing look hideously like Ice Warriors, but more recent ones recapture the feel of the original game, although rollerskates have made the natural progression to rollerblades. It may even be good, here's hoping.