Tuesday, November 23, 2004

rollerball [november 22, 2004]

Rollerball, the original version directed by Norman Jewison starring James Caan, not the Stallone remake, presents us with yet another view of the future. Like The Running Man (the Bachman/King book, and the core of the screen adaptation starring Arnold Schwarzenegger), the main attraction of the future is a deathly sport called Rollerball, which combines ice hockey, motor-cross racing and American football. The game is designed so that the individual cannot possibly succeed. The current champion, and our protagonist, is Jonathan E, who is pushed to rebellion when he comes face-to-face with the prevalent corporate mechanics of the game. That last aspect rings so true when you consider the world of sport today, where it seems so much less about the game (hardly at all, in fact) and more about the products and brands endorsed, the breaks and timeouts that are coordinated for running commercials, and the associated marketing, memorabilia and gimmickry. It all ceases to be about the sport and the coordination of mind and body. This is one of the things that still give the film a certain viability despite the passing years. The other aspect is the extent to which corporates have grown and assumed more control in the future. While we have different cities associated with resources (Houston is the Energy City and Chicago is the Food City), we have the Energy Corporation, we also have the corporate anthem and the corporate hymn. We note that classified books are transcribed (by librarians at computer centres) and summarised. Then there's the detail about people firing at trees and blowing them up. Insanity rules at the conceptual and social level. Life has become a piece of controlled entertainment. And the entertainment is a giddy bike ride along the perimeter of the well of death.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.