Anthony's Film Review

THX 1138 (1971)

An early film from George Lucas that is a decent start for his filmmaking career...

Years before George Lucas became renowned for the 1977 mega-hit sci-fi classic Star Wars, he was a film student at the University of Southern California. Like all university graduate students, Lucas had to do a big project for school, and for that, he made a short film about a dystopian society. The praise Lucas received for it would lead him to write and direct a full-length version of the story. The result is the 1971 dystopian sci-fi film THX 1138 (whose title, interestingly enough, is taken directly from his personal telephone number at the time). It's a decent movie to watch, and certainly enjoyable if you are the kind of person who enjoys stories such as George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World that deal with hypothetical oppressive futuristic human societies.

THX 1138 is set in a totalitarian society where inhabitants are identified by three-letter codes, mandated to take drugs that suppress emotion, forbidden to engage in sexual relations, and follow strict work schedules. There are people in control rooms who watch everyone's actions on monitors, as well as a faceless voice that one talks to about any problems that arise. All of this occupies an artificial indoor setting, like some kind of underground facility. Whatever it is, everyone is totally cut off from the outside world. Basically, the concept of mother nature and planet Earth is virtually nonexistent here.

The story in this movie is pretty thin, to be quite honest. It simply involves Robert Duvall as THX who, after a moment of skipping his mandated sedative drugs, becomes capable of love and falls for LUH played by Maggie McOmie. One day, THX and LUH rebel by violating the ban against sexual relations. In other words, by engaging in sexual intercourse. It is not long before THX is in trouble with the law and needs to be detained and punished. What follows is a struggle for freedom, something that nobody in this society has ever tasted.

Because of a thin story and minimally developed cast of characters, I can't say I rate this movie highly. But it's still good in one aspect: production design. THX 1138 may be Lucas's first film as a director, but he was given plenty of support from a big studio and also from producer Francis Ford Coppola. The result is a film that doesn't look too low-budget. The set designs give the whole dystopian society a foreboding and dark feel. I especially liked one particular scene that takes place in a completely white room, so white that you cannot see where the floor, wall, or ceiling is. So if there's anything to like about THX 1138, it's the overall look of it.

THX 1138 can be an entertaining movie if you really love sci-fi, particularly dystopian sci-fi. Otherwise, it's a movie that serves as an illustration of George Lucas's pre-Star Wars directorial work, something to check out if you're curious about his directing style early on. I'm still glad I saw this movie, because I can appreciate the work that Lucas put into it. And I have to admit. As slow as the movie is, I enjoyed the last couple of minutes of it. It's good enough that Lucas would get a chance to make more films, including a certain blockbuster sci-fi movie released six years later.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about THX 1138, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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