Film writing competition: Rollerball


Electric Sheep Film Club

Venue: Prince Charles Cinema, London

Every first Wednesday of the month

In connection with the Electric Sheep Film Club at the Prince Charles Cinema every first Wednesday of the month, we run a film writing competition: film students and aspiring film writers are invited to write a 200-word review of the film on show that month. The best review is picked by a film professional, and Louis Savy of Sci-Fi London was the judge of our October competition for Norman Jewison’s Rollerball (1975). The prize for the best review is publication on the Electric Sheep website. We are pleased to announce that the winner of the October competition is Sophie Brown. Louis Savy said: ‘It was a tough decision with so many varying approaches to the
review – but Sophie’s stood out. Well done.’ Here is her review:

‘Does he dream?’ enquires celebrated player of the Houston Rollerball team Jonathan E of his unconscious teammate, left brain-damaged from a game. Norman Jewison’s Rollerball imagines a numbed dystopia, where all decisions are made by higher authorities. The ferocity of Rollerball is cocooned in hypnotic reverie, in a future where this game has replaced wars and corporate aggression. The camera floats, a disembodied consciousness that at times anchors itself to Jonathan’s perception, cynically and resiliently played by James Caan. He faces The Corporation’s menacing scrutiny for undermining the message of rollerball – the futility of individual effort – but stoically refuses to surrender his identity to their faceless destructiveness. Obscure forces of control lurk behind the cool darkness of the corporate spectators. Purring with smooth reassurance and assertive calm is corporate head Mr Bartholomew, evoking the dubious forces of power in early 1970s America. The steel ball thunders around the edge of the arena like a game of roulette in Jewison’s powerful vision of expedient brutality; teams engage in cyclical combat, bloodied men drop, registered by a flickering red light on the scoreboard, while the foreboding imagery of skeletally looming, senselessly scorched trees echoes the bleak dangers of a passive existence.

Sophie Brown

Next screening: Repulsion, Wednesday 4 November. For details on how to enter the competition, visit our Film Club page.