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THX 1138 (1971)

THX 1138 – Special Edition Director’s Cut DVD, THX-1138

Visit the future where love is the ultimate crime.

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 95 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15


With his bushy beard, beady eyes and checky shirts, George Lucas has always looked more like a lecturer than a student. However, a long time ago (but not, presumably, in a galaxy far, far away) he WAS a student, and it was his short student film ‘THX 1138: 4EB’ that first brought his indisputable directorial talent to the attention of the big studios. Within a year he’d been head-hunted by Warner Bros, taken under the wing of executive producer Francis Ford Coppola, and handed a modest sum of cash to turn his college brainchild into a major motion picture. The result, Lucas-lovers, was ‘THX 1138’. Catchy title or what?

Set in a distant future where sex, individuality and having a name that anyone can actually remember are all forbidden, Robert Duvall (even here he’s 40 – was the guy EVER young??) plays THX 1138. Like everyone in the soulless, white-lighted underground society where he lives, he’s a shaven-headed worker for the state. It all goes Pete Tong for our hero when he takes a bit of a fancy to his newly-assigned room-mate LUH 3417 (such a pretty name!) and the pair of them are caught nookying in front of the cameras. It turns out to be a bad move for ol’ THX, as before he knows what’s going on, he finds himself locked up and being prodded by some silver-faced blokes with big long pointy sticks. High time, then, to make an escape.

At first glance this seems like a film totally unlike anything else. It’s accompanied by a disorientating muzak-style soundtrack, and features white, minimalistic backgrounds which must have saved the studio a fortune on props. However, once you get past how striking the whole thing is, it starts to become apparent that this really isn’t particularly original, borrowing heavily from George Orwell’s ‘1984’ among other tales.

Lucas clearly set out to make a name for himself with this one, and in producing such a visually stunning piece of work he achieved just that. Unfortunately, the story itself dips in and out of the realms of the interesting, never really tests any of its cast (which also includes smarmy Fabien Barthez look-a-like Donald Pleasance), and has one of the least satisfying (but, again, aesthetically striking) endings I’ve ever seen.

It's Got: Lots of prototype Mini Mes.

It Needs: : LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie, who hasn’t been seen in anything either before or since) to do something about her hair.

DVD Extras This long-awaited 2-disc special edition contains audio commentary from Lucas and co-writer/sound designer Walter Murch, an isolated sound-effects track, master sessions with Murch, two documentaries titled ‘A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope’ and ‘Artefact from the Future: The Making of THX-1138’. There’s also an original trailer and chance to see Lucas’ original student version ‘Electric Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB’. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10


It’s not a great film – it’s just all white.