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|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(Norman Jewison, 1975)
Review by Gary Tooze
NOTE: These Blu-rays are compared to the 4K UHD edition of Rollerball HERE.
Video: Twilight Time / Arrow Video
Region: FREE /Region 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player) /
Runtime: 2:05:03.537 / 2:05:03.954
Disc Size: 44,619,573,953 bytes / 48,651,860,546 bytes
Feature Size: 41,618,208,768 bytes / 42,370,409,856 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps / 34.91 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 13
Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: May, 2014 / March 24th, 2015
Video (same for both):
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3465 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3465 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -5dB)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1064 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1064 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps / 24-bit
/ DN -3dB
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1712 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1712 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -5dB)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3469 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3469 kbps / 24-bit (DTS
Core: 5.1 /
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
LPCM Audio 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles (same for both):
• English (SDH), None
•Audio Commentary with director Norman Jewison
• Audio Commentary with writer William Harrison
• Isolated Score
• From Rome to Rollerball: The Full Circle (7:54)
• Return to the Arena: The Making of Rollerball (25:05)
• TV Spots (1:32)
• Theatrical Trailer (2:58)
• Liner notes by Julie Kirgo
Audio Commentary with director Norman Jewison
Description: Rollerball (1975) posits a dystopian future (2018!) in which war has been replaced by the titular game, a gladiatorial spectacle of violence that helps keep the global populace entertained and anesthetized. Director Norman Jewison and writer William Harrison further give us an athletic champion, Jonathan E (the great James Caan), whose individual expertise defeats the worldwide corporate leadership’s design: to emphasize the futility of individual effort. Corporate bigwigs (icily incarnated by John Houseman) need Jonathan to retire, but Jonathan begins to have his own dangerous ideas.
In a corporate-controlled future, the world s nations have been disbanded and conflict is a thing of the past. But blood continues to be shed on the tracks of Rollerball a brutal contact sport which pits players in a battle of life and death. James Caan (The Godfather, Thief, Misery) plays Jonathan E., celebrated captain of the Houston Rollerball team whose prowess on the track has earned him renown across the globe. But this fame has also attracted the ire of the games corporate sponsors, who wish to suppress any displays of individual achievement fearing this could encourage the populace to revolt. With the powers-that-be pushing for his retirement, Jonathan is faced with a choice concede to the Corporation s will or take a stand, by continuing to compete in the increasingly deadly games. Shot in Munich to make use of the city s futuristic Olympic architecture, Rollerball is a classic slice of dystopian filmmaking, mixing high-octane action sequences with gripping (and thoroughly prescient) social commentary. The future is now the future is Rollerball!
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.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Behind the vision of a future society, where the corporate world state controls the bloodlust of the populace through lethal games of rollerball, lies the familiar theme of individual struggle: Caan's champ takes on the grey eminence who wants to force his retirement. The script grapples with notions of freedom and privilege, but finally remains too oblique to throw much light either on our own society or on our possible future. Occasionally, though, insight triumphs, and Caan's struggle towards articulation remains one of the film's strong points. Otherwise, its main interest lies in the tensions generated by the gap between the script's intellectual aspirations and the gut reaction appeal of the games, which are highly physical and brutal. Hence, a group of drunken revellers deliberately and callously burning down some old fir trees makes more impression than all the destruction of human meat in the games. Ultimately, Rollerball gets by on its sheer monolithic quality - an abundance of quantity. Despite indifferent direction and dire humour, it is well mounted and photographed.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
NOTE: These Blu-rays are compared to the 4K UHD edition of Rollerball HERE.
Rollerball - a longtime cult favorite - gets a Twilight Time Blu-ray release. Once again the distributor produces a very strong a/v. This is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. The vast improvement over past DVDs shows up in many areas - from the richness of the colors to the more layered contrast but, perhaps most notably - the high level of detail in close-ups. Much of the 'games' are with a very kinetic camera exemplifying the intense action. The futuristic world is clean and sanitized - and the high resolution image exemplifies that. The visuals are thick and fairly film-like with some pleasing textures. The Blu-ray provides a fabulous, authentic, video presentation. I image, this is a good as it will ever get for the film.
Only a very minor difference in the video appearance, slightly favoring, also dual-layered, max'ed out bitrate, Arrow. The grain structure seems marginally better supported via the UK transfer. Occasionally colors can show a richer hue in the Arrow, but for most viewers the image will be, essentially, duplicated on their systems.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More Blu-ray Captures
Twilight Time offer a DTS-HD Master 5.1 bump at 3465 kbps and an original mono in a DTS-HD Master at 1064 kbps. It is always appreciated to add the original. The bump sounds okay - some crisper separations buoy the sports-combative atmosphere. This is notable in the aggressive action and crowd noises but more so in the extensive use of classic pieces in the film, such as Adagio for Strings and Organ in G minor, memorable Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor as well as some Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. It sounds wonderfully rich and deep (especially the organ). There are optional English subtitles (sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.
Like the video, the audio is almost an exact duplicate to the Twilight Time release. I can hear no difference in the DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround but as opposed to a mono DTS-HD master on the Twilight Time, Arrow for for a linear PCM stereo. The classical music in the film sounds resounding. Arrow also add an isolated score in uncompressed and also include optional English (SDH) subtitles. Their Blu-ray package is region 'B'-locked.
Twilight Time add two, previously released, audio commentaries - the first with director Norman Jewison expanding on the futurism of the film as well as keen production details from his valued viewpoint and the second has screenplay writer and author William Harrison whose short story Roller Ball Murder - was the basis for the film. I believe this was originally on a Region 2 DVD. Twilight Time add their usual ability to access an isolated score - as well as vintage featurettes From Rome to Rollerball: The Full Circle and the lengthier, 2000, Return to the Arena: The Making of Rollerball directed by Jeffrey Schwarz. There are brief TV Spots, a theatrical trailer and the package contains liner notes by Julie Kirgo.
Duplicated on the Arrow (same as the Twilight Time) are the two audio commentaries (director Norman Jewison and the second with writer William Harrison. Arrow also include the same original featurettes: the 8-minute From Rome to Rollerball: The Full Circle EPK piece and the 25-minute Return to the Arena: The Making of Rollerball plus TV Spots and a theatrical trailer (Arrow also adds a teaser trailer.) But here is where the two editions differentiate. We get a new, 11-minute, interview with James Caan entitled Blood Sports, where the actor reflects on the film, its and its critical reaction. The UK distributor also add two (newer) of Robert Fischer's wonderful Fiction Factory documentaries. The Fourth City: Shooting Rollerball in Munich is almost 20-minutes and has Unit manager Dieter Meyer and others revisiting the Audi Dome and other original locations in Munich. The Bike Work has 17.5 minutes of Craig R. Baxley discussing the Motorcycle stunts used in Rollerball. Baxley describes the challenges and dangers of being one of the Rollerball bikers. Arrow's package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Paul Shipper and a collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film, illustrated with original archive stills and posters.
Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Since the Twilight Time is out-of-print, as we predicted, the Arrow is actually a superior replacement with the advanced supplements. You only need to be able to play Region 'B'. A must-own and complete Blu-ray package by Arrow.
May 26th, 2014
March 6th, 2015
NOTE: These Blu-rays are compared to
the 4K UHD edition of
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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