This chapter discusses the origins of Rollerball (1975) in the context of science-fiction cinema in the late 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, when the genre began a move to the centre of the commercial film business. It also took a distinctly dark turn as the impact of the Vietnam War, economic recession, the OPEC oil crisis, debates about overpopulation, environmental destruction, and, in the US, urban decay, and the political corruption revealed by the Watergate scandal worked their way into public consciousness. These concerns were all reflected in 1970s science fiction, and particularly percolated up in the decade's dystopian offerings. They also gave rise to the paranoia cycle of Hollywood thrillers that appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s, in the context of which aspects of Rollerball can be viewed. The chapter then outlines some of the broader cultural debates William Harrison and Norman Jewison found themselves part of during the same period, principally concerns over increasing violence in professional American sport and society more generally, technological change, and growing corporate power.
Keywords: Rollerball, science-fiction cinema, 1970s science fiction, dystopian films, paranoia films, William Harrison, Norman Jewison, professional American sport, technological change, corporate power
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