Not sure when this worst-thought first came to worst-moi, dear worst-reader. It’s a recent thought though, within the past year or three I’m sure. This thought has been percolating in a corner of my worst-mind as though it were a distant memory suppressed. It’s certainly been magnified since last summer. Indeed. Last summer is when I lost Mother. Oh don’t worry. She’s still alive. But lost she is all the same. And so. This morning. While walking Beckett, the killer pug, I happened across my favourite dog walking friend and I inquired as to his thoughts on the film Rollerball (1975). The reason for my inquiry–beyond the fact that he’s quite the film buff–has to do with the wife of Jonathan in the movie. With that in worst-mind, how bout a quick summary.
Jonathan (played by James Caan) is the world’s most famous Rollerball player. Rollerball is a violent, Roman gladiator-like sport that involves a ball that is ejected out of cannon onto a circular roller skating rink. The object of the game is to catch the cannon ball and then score a goal with it. As its champion, Jonathan is facing both his retirement and the reality of (his) life that evolves around this game. The movie is pretty abrupt in telling us from the beginning that Rollerball is more than just a game, though. For example. The players of the game and the audience represent the working class. The ruling class, on the other hand, is made up of those who own and control the game. In this dystopian world there is nothing but Rollerball–except a reference or three to some extreme bourgeois, elitist behaviour, i.e. the tree burning scene, which I’ll get to in a sec. There’s also a bit of this-that regarding the up-n-coming computer age. But before I get too bogged down with all that…
Because of Jonathan’s popularity the ruling elite want to martyr him. As the story progresses, each game results in Jonathan resorting to not only winning (at all costs) but also fighting-the-man at all costs, even as each game becomes more and more violent. Hence the drama and suspense that Hollywood does best. In the end, the corporate elites fail to kill Jonathan. Instead his symbolism has been raised to the highest level which may or may not represents fighting-the-man. I guess. As the credits roll Jonathan skates around the Rollerball rink as the ultimate champion. Who wins what? I have no idear. Luckily there was never a sequel to this movie.
With that worst-summary behind us, what’s going on with this movie and worst-writer’s worst-thoughts about Mother? Well, don’t you know, dear worst-reader, it’s a lot. For you see. The thought that stirred me the other night as I was thinking about my youth, rollerskating, my mother and, most important, how wives become mothers, I also started thinking about Jonathan’s wife, Ella (played by Maud Adams). Although I’m not sure what the original intention of Ella is/was in this story–keep in mind I’m writing all this based on my memory of having seen the movie in the late seventies at a drive-in–along with a few recent views of web posted vid-snippets. Anywho.
There is one very subtle and extremely important issue regarding Jonathan’s wife. First. Ella is now someone else’s wife even though through out the movie Jonathan clings to her. She is the protaganist love-interest, if you will. And even though she’s with someone else, there’s no jealousy or bitterness between her and Jonathan. In fact. I don’t recall there being a divorce. But I could be wrong on that one. But that doesn’t matter. There does seem to be lots of compassion and understanding between these two working class adults. Also. Guess who her new husband is? No. It’s not a rival Rollerball player. No. It’s not a famous and rich doctor. Oh wait. Did you say that she probably left the world’s greatest athlete for a movie star? Ok. That’s a good thought. But no. It’s wrong.
Ella’s new husband is no less than the owner of Jonathan’s Rollerball team. And he’s a really old, elitist white guy. Could this old elitist white guy be the answer to a woman wanting to marry a grown up man instead of haphazardly marrying a man-child that never grows up and out of (his) game-play? Wait. Scratch that. Move on.
This thing is, dear worst-reader, this old white guy isn’t just any Rollerball team owner. If I’m not mistaken, all the owners of all Rollerball teams are also CEOs of the worlds biggest corporations. But don’t worry, dear worst-reader. That’s not even the reason I found myself worst-thinking about Ella. Or is it?
As I posted in this worst-blog-post some time ago, there is a fight being fought for the world at large. This fight, don’t you know, isn’t a traditional fight. Nor is it a gladiatorial Rollerball game. For you see, dear worst-reader, there are fights being fought each day, every second of each day, and that fight involves Mother. Which begs this worst-question:
What came first, Mother or…?
Forgive me, dear worst-reader, if I’m treading on your chicken & egg answer-question. For we all know by now how and what the answer is to that one. Or? Indeed. That’s right. The egg came first! (There! Worst-writer said it.) But to the question of whether or not Mother came first and if she didn’t what did… Now we’re getting somewhere, aren’t we? Which brings me to the whole idear of Nature. Or it brings me to humanity’s hate of nature–especially nature as Mother. And how is this hate personified? If you haven’t seen it then go ahead and have a look on the #interwebnets at the tree burning scene from Rollerball. Here’s a link that may get your started. During this scene, in worst-writer’s humble opinion, something extremely important takes place. Here’s what goes down.
An elegantly clad group of elites exit a mansion’s garden terrace with champagne glasses in hand. They cross the patio and walk over a field of grass. When the camera finds them all together in the middle of green we see a woman in a red dress convincing a man in a tuxedo, with a gun, to let her have that gun. When she finally gets the gun she proceeds to shoot at a tree. After initially missing the tree she fights off those who would say they can shoot better. She then proceeds to shoot again and hits the tree. The tree immediately goes poof and burns bright orange and red and smokes. Immediately the camera focuses on a different woman who now has the gun and she proceeds to shoot another tree, this time hitting it with her first shot. Then another woman gets the gun and does the same thing to another tree. I can’t remember exactly how many shots were fired but I can remember that they were all fired by women, surrounded by cheering elitist men, and all the trees were set ablaze. There is a brief moment during this scene where the first woman who shot the tree seems to regret or question what’s she’s just done–but that scene passes toot-sweet.
Now. I’m sure there are a few things worst-written about this movie and the tree burning scene and that’s fine & good. I also think this is a very profound moment in the movie–even though it doesn’t really have any connection to the drama of Jonathan, Ella, Rollerball or worst-writer’s Mother. But. Then again. Here’s where it all might come together.
Has there ever been a clearer moment in time where the obviousness of humanity’s ill-ways was more apparent? (Than now?) Ill-ways being man’s fight against not only other men but nature itself? Hence the likes of Putin, #Trump and the lust of constitutionally ordained FREEDOM TO BE STUPID? Again. If I recall from the movie Rollerball–as it’s been so long since I’ve seen it–Ella is taken away from Jonathan in order to control him and hence his popularity, his game play, his effect on the lower classes. But Ella didn’t leave him by her own accord. She left him because she was coerced by the corporate elites who had threatened Jonathan’s life. She loved him so much that she gave herself, if you will, to the biblical. She gave herself willingly to be coveted by a brother’s keeper. Is this the true fate of man vs nature? Is there a better example of humanity going against nature than to portray a woman (potentially a/the Mother) going against her nature–which may or may not be LOVE? That means, potentially, Rollerball is a movie about how to avoid not only corporate elites ruling the world but also, maybe, it is an allegory to help us figure out the true meaning of love, sacrifice, commitment and NATURE. Or. Wait. Maybe…
No. Scratch that. Moving on.
Yeah. Bag that. The friggin movie is about those damn trees and the gun that turned them into poof the friggin magic dragon run amok. And it’s about macho men doing their thing in sporting events that get men laid thereby leaving women to fend for themselves–until they get a better offer. Don’t you know. I guess. Yeah, baby.
And so. With that in worst-mind…
PS This is what happens when I can’t maintain my thoughts. When I let my worst-self get too far off subject. Oh well. At least I still know the difference between good vs #MAGA idiots.