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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early genius
Be forewarned: THX 1138 is not for all Star Wars fans. This is hard sci-fi, like the kind Kubrick used to make. There are no cute furry Ewoks, there is no villain, there is not much in the way of heroics. This is a dystopian future brought to you by the once-brilliant director, unhampered by his own commercial drives. This is as pure a vision as it gets...
Published on Feb. 8 2010 by LeBrain

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Pre-STAR WARS.
THX-1138 was George Lucas' first major motion picture. It is an extended version of one of his student films at USC. The movie is set in the future where people are objects controlled by machines and medicines, unable to think for themselves. People have no names, only numbers. However, THX-1138's mate has other plans and starts reducing the medications she and THX (Tex)...
Published on May 19 2003 by tvtv3


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early genius, Feb. 8 2010
By 
LeBrain - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director's Cut: Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import] (DVD)
Be forewarned: THX 1138 is not for all Star Wars fans. This is hard sci-fi, like the kind Kubrick used to make. There are no cute furry Ewoks, there is no villain, there is not much in the way of heroics. This is a dystopian future brought to you by the once-brilliant director, unhampered by his own commercial drives. This is as pure a vision as it gets.

One viewing is not enough to digest THX1138. There is not much in the way of dialogue, or exposition. There is no traditional music, and the story plods along in a very Kubrickian fashion.

It is the future, and humanity now lives in a vast underground city, so vast that nobody ever ventures out to its superstructure where malformed, monkey-like "Shell Dwellers" remain. Perhaps they are mutants, victims of a long-forgotten nuclear holocaust. It is never explained and it's never supposed to be explained. Humanity lives in a sterile, pristinely white city that resembles the dullest of shopping malls. Every word spoken is monitored, including at strange Catholic-looking confessionals, where one prays to the State and the Masses and a weird Christ-like face. Children are taught entire school courses via a chemical IV. Sexual activity is forbidden unless you are scheduled to produce a child. Sedation by drugs is compulsory. Failure to take your medications will result in drug offences and rehabilition. Some humans are deemed defective and left to themselves in a strange white prison, an asylum that seems to go on forever.

Our protangonist is THX-1138, called "Tex" for short. He is played by the young Robert Duvall. He does not feel well. He feels sick, shaky, because he is off his medication. Feelings of love and lust are stirring for his roomate, LUH. The lack of medication has allowed him to feel these feelings for the first time. It has also, however, affected his work, and one error is all it takes to clue in the powers-that-be that THX is a drug offender.

Many themes turn up again in Lucas' later films. A totalitarian faceless government, complete with faceless law enforcement, in this case, robot officers. Staticy background dialogue makes up the most of the soundtrack to this film. Remember how the Stormtroopers sounded when they spoke? Imagine that, constantly, in the background. Lucas has taken sound effects and used them as music, yet they still convey information crucial to the plot. Some shots are duplicated almost perfectly in Star Wars, see if you can spot them.

Some scenes are chilling. THX is channel surfing and comes upon a program of an officer beating a human repeatedly for no apparent reason. This is the entertainment of the future. In another scene, two techs are tormenting THX's body, but their dialogue betrays absolutely no connection whatsoever to the human being they are hurting. "Don't let it get above 48," says one, as THX is writhing in agony. "Oh, you let is get above 48, see, that's why you're getting those readings."

The theme of escape, which was common with Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars, is what is driving THX. He eventually finds an ally in Don Pedro Colley, a "hologram" who he meets in the white asylum. SEN (Donald Pleasance) is suitably creepy as a man whom seems obsessed with THX and LUH. Together, can they escape the city and see what is beyond?

Lucas loves tampering with his films and THX is one of them. CG race cars and cityscapes enhance the film, while CG Shell Dwellers look phony and out of place. I would have preferred the original Shell Dwellers, but in the cityscapes, the new effects certainly add depth and believability.

DVD bonus features are awesome, including ample documentaries. The main feature for me was the original black and white student film that Lucas made: THX1138-4eB - Electronic Labyrinth. See how his vision survived intact to the big screen, and see how ideas such as dialogue acting as the soundtrack was present in the original short.

A fantastic visionary sci-fi film, and a warning to us today. We must not allow our society to become as controlled as THX's. Not for everybody. Only for those who like thinking man's sci-fi.

4 stars. Near perfect.
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2.0 out of 5 stars THX 1138? THX, but no THX, Nov. 17 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director's Cut: Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import] (DVD)
Okay, I got to admit, I read multiple reviews and listened to many opinions before finally watching this movie. I am an oldschool cinematography fan and will watch what most of today's audience can't even bear for more than 5 minutes. I've seen the most disturbing Italian movies and the turtle-like slow-paced Kurosawa masterpieces. Been there, done that, got a t-shirt. Then I heard about THX-1138. Well my first thought..what? George Lucas? Maybe it's as good as the original Star Wars Trilogy was too? So having spent time researching the movie prior to buying it, I went and got a copy. Well, what can I say? I'll just say it...it's crap. Ok, yes, one would argue there are hidden messages and visions of possible future, but...it's still crap. What did Lucas do? He took the infamous cliche (by then) topic of 1984ish reality and added a twist...then he looked at his own budget and realized that most scenese will have to be empty, instead of futuristic costumes he'd use cheap prisoner clothing and well everything else that he probably had in mind before he made it would have to be 'out of the picture' too. Result? An overrated not-so-masterpiece that has no acting, ripped off storyline, jumps from scene to scene and overall has no sense of fluency that is a must have in a good movie. You're thrown into an on-going reality, introduced to a personality-less prisoner and are moved, no, dragged through a predictable story until at the end you realize that, umm...THX 1138 is not even a movie, it's like a scrapbook with random ideas that should have been left on paper and forgotten. Considering the fact that even the Star Wars storyline is a kind of a rip off (though he calls it 'inspiration') from Kurosawa's early works with some sci-fying involved, one is left to wonder whether George really deserves all the fame and glory in the first place...
Oh and special features/CGI? Does not save the movie a bit. Both editions are a total crap and are not worth your time unless you're a student of film and really want to see what kind of movies you SHOULDN'T make.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Minimalist Epic, July 13 2004
By 
classicmoviefan (Rancho Mirage, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director's Cut: Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import] (DVD)
I first saw this incredible film in a local theater in Long Beach, California in 1971, while still in the U.S. Air Force. I was expecting a "shoot-em-up" science fiction diversion... but was I ever amazed. Just three years before I saw Kubrick's masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey" and thought no other film could touch my soul like that movie could. I think this film hit those same visceral roots within. Like "2001" there is little dialog, and much of the verbage in this film is heard through computer, robot or intercom noise that "first viewers" might dismiss... however, every word in this film is vital in telling the story of THX and LUH.
Robert Duvall is superb in the title role, as is Donald Pleasance and character actor Don Pedro Colley.... but the real surprise is Maggie McOmie in her only movie role. She is totally convincing as the strangely beautiful LUH, THX's love interest. Every frame of this film is a work of art... each one is like modern art... visceral, haunting, unforgettable and brilliant.
This is a film to be experienced.... and with repeated viewings, new clues open up, and you begin to wonder where these people come from, and where they are headed.
This is not a film for those with limited attention spans... it is not about "quick cuts" and simple solutions. And this film was not made in 2004, but in 1971, keep that in mind when you realize this film shows technologies we take for granted today long before they were a reality.
The sets for this film were largely REAL locations in San Francisco and Oakland, by the way. The escalators in the school for boys is actually still in Golden Gateway Center near the Embarcadero. The still-under-construction 16th Street BART station is the realm of shell dwellers. The shopping center is the San Raphael Civic Center Building by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is amazing to visit most of the same locations today since they remain looking relatively the same. To me, the use of these actual and unaltered locations point out that this film is not about a future society at all, but was rather a metaphor for the state of our society in 1971. Viewed from that point of reference, the film's panorama is truly on-target in more ways than one.
I understand the "Directors Cut" will restore the film considerably. This will be thrilling, since I have always felt the film should "move slowly" as one chrome robot says in the film and allow the viewer more access to this frightening but fascinating world. I look forward to this new DVD release!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Second favorite movie of all time since I was 11, June 20 2004
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This review is from: THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director's Cut: Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import] (DVD)
That's right, my second favorite movie in the whole world (after Blade Runner 1983) and it has been since it was aired on Saturday Action Afternoon Special broadcast on local TV in the early 80's. I of course was only 10 or 11 at the time and my dad and I had a great time watching science fiction together. This rare masterpiece is so special it moved me almost to tears at the end. I find most people never have heard about THX-1138 and those that have are like me, zealot's. I have run into the occasional "it bored me to tears" but this kind of comment usually comes from the "I loved Shrek" type. There is very little dialog so if you are planning on watching this while loading the dishwasher then forget it. This is (in my humble opinion) a visual symphony that breaks the fabric of movie time and space by using sound, imagery and emotion to captivate the viewer and it never ever attempts to be preachy or condescending (unlike me). Without a doubt THX is hard to digest leaving many with fear and questioning technology and our place in its future. But this film is so much more about what is truly at risk, humanity. Run don't walk and borrow, rent, buy or steal this genius truly one-of a kind pièce de résistance and see what the fifth star was truly intended for.
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5.0 out of 5 stars George Lucas' First and Finest(?) Work, June 7 2004
By 
taxman (metro Detroit) - See all my reviews
This review is from: THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director's Cut: Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import] (DVD)
This was the first full length sci-fi classic by a then unknown George Lucas and Stephen Speilberg. It was a box office flop, but is a cult classic for all of eternity. This is the type of movie you will either love and watch numerous times (as I have to the dismay of my wife), or hate and turn it off in the first 15 minutes. Basically, it is a movie set into a far flung future that shows as man advances technologically, he regresses as an individual. No one has names, just designators. Robert Duvall's character was called THX 1138. Everyone lived underground alike ants. And like ants, everyone had their own specific role that was predetermined by the computers that ruled. Everyone looked the same and dressed in sterile white. In fact, all scenes are sterile white except for the black clad robot police. Gone was individualism. Mates were selected and drug use was mandatory. Those who rebelled, were taken and evaluated if it was cost effective to rehab. When a nuclear accident happens, the system cleans it up, takes away the bodies and announces that the accident rate and death count was still lower than at that time in the previous year. It then congratulates the drones to keep up the good work in reducing the death and injury totals; totally neglecting the accident or it's victims. I cannot help but think this is one of the sources the Star Trek universe used in scripting the Borg. The ending scene in which THX 1138 finally is able to escape to the world above is most symbolic in as much as while he is escaping, the system keeps a running track of what it has spent so far, and compared it to his value as a productive drone. Finaly, when the computers calculate that it has spent enough on THX, they discontinue the chase. He is able to climb upward to the light above (an obvious reference to dying and ascending up the light to heaven). He emerges onto the surface and sees the sun for the first time in his life.
The movie is a social commentary on the advancement and evolution of mankind. The message hit me like a 2 by 4 as far as the cost of that evolution. The scenes that show a form of a diety were especially pointant in as much as all the godlike immages, were tools of the system. God's response was a recording telling the individual in the confessional that he understood, and advised the drone to stay happy and spend money. God also recorded and monitored all confessionals to keep track of all drones and their thinking. Another reference to the repression of the individual for the good of the "community".
The movie was a product of the era in which it was made. It came our after the Vietnam War was over, while Watergate was simmering, and the world in upheaval and chaos. It showed a world free from the above turmoils and the alternative to those turmoils. It makes you think, ponder, and ask what is the ultimate costs of our evolution, and which way we are heading. It one breath, it critizes the predominant social, political and economic systems that existed in 1974 (i.e. socialism, communism, capitalism, and all religions). It is a commentary on the fate of mankind, if all those systems are carried out to their nth degree.
Definately a classic MUST HAVE, but for everyone. If you love this movie (as I do), than another MUST HAVE, is the entire 17 episode set of "The Prisoner".
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2.0 out of 5 stars AMBITIOUS MOVIE THAT DOESN'T GET THE DESIRED RESULTS., Nov. 23 2003
This review is from: Thx-1138 (VHS Tape)
"THX-1138" is an spiritual, introspective and minimalist movie, directed in 1971 by George Lucas, in a period before his spectacular "Star Wars" original trilogy. This movie has good things, for example, it has an intelligent central issue: the extermination of the human spirit. However, the execution wasn't the best, and this is an evidence that when George Lucas is more ambitious, worst are the results that he gets. Just take a look to the pretentious movies "Star Wars, episode I & II", even though those are entertaining movies, pale when compared to the original trilogy.
George Lucas is not the best director when comes the time to create stories that are supported by the performances of the cast, he is not good directing dramatic scenes, he is a magician creating fantastic movies with spectacular details and scenes, in result, "THX-1138" is a minor movie, the intentions are good, but the execution isn't, the central issue can make you thought about it, but the movie by itself is mediocre.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The best film George Lucas ever made!!!!, June 8 2003
By 
R. Cousineau (New York USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Thx-1138 (VHS Tape)
George Lucas`s first film....it`s a dark,scary and all to possible conclusion for the human race.Freewill and its costs are put on display when THX1138 with the help of his roommate,decides that there must be something better and strives to find it at all costs.A stunning look into the possible future finds humans reduced to slaves,where sex is forbidden,religion is used as a pacifier to the masses and brutal violence is inflicted by robot police officers for every infraction.What ensues is one mans race to find that freedom....but when forced to decide which is more important - freedom and its unknowns or the supposed safety of his current life - what is he to do?I say that this is the best film George Lucas ever made.When it comes out on dvd it will be cause for celebration - the sound and visuals are if nothing else stunning.Until then check it out and afterwards you to will question your role in your own society.Is tomorrow really worth looking forward to?
Be afraid...be very afraid.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Pre-STAR WARS., May 19 2003
By 
tvtv3 "tvtv3" (Sorento, IL United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thx-1138 (VHS Tape)
THX-1138 was George Lucas' first major motion picture. It is an extended version of one of his student films at USC. The movie is set in the future where people are objects controlled by machines and medicines, unable to think for themselves. People have no names, only numbers. However, THX-1138's mate has other plans and starts reducing the medications she and THX (Tex) take. This leads to an awakening within THX for which he is imprisoned and escapes.
THX-1138 is a film more about the cinema of light and sound telling a story than action and dialogue; though the last fifteen minutes of the film really speed up. The movie seems like a cross between 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, LOGAN'S RUN, and STAR WARS. Watching carefully, one can pick up on things that Lucas would later use and expand upon in STAR WARS.
As a movie, THX-1138 is rather boring. As a piece of cinema, it's worth watching because it was George Lucas first film and clearly had an influence upon how he made STAR WARS. Also, if you're a 2001 fan, you'll probably enjoy this movie. However, definitely not for everyone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic, Feb. 5 2002
This review is from: Thx-1138 (VHS Tape)
I've started a tradition of dusting this flick off the winter before a new Star Wars movie is due. In this lamented classic from '71, Robert Duvall plays THX-1138, a seemingly anonymous denizen of an underground city where enforced drug addiction, constant supervision by security cameras, prohibitions against sex and ceaseless (and hazardous) work has created a society of parahumans with shaven heads. Those needing spiritual guidance (for things the drugs can't help) can consult the divine "OM" at a "unichapel" - a sort of phone-booth confessional. Most of THX's problems stem from his roommate's sudden burgeoning love for him. Hoping THX will respond, LUH (Maggie Mccomie) secretly replaces his normal drug intake with stimulants. Falling in love with LUH, and though it will make him more accident prone in his already dangerous job, THX tries to get off the drugs completely. In their romantic moments, they consider running away - sexual intercourse and drug evasion each being considered serious offenses - but their subterranean city is the only world they know. Complicating things are the attentions in THX placed by SEN-4251 (Donald Pleasance), LUH's supervisor. Though THX informs on SEN, both he and LUH are convicted for their own illicit affair, and separated. In a strange prison - a room seemingly without walls and set in another dimension where everything is white - THX becomes withdrawn. Now a cellmate, and unpopular with the other prisoners, SEN looks to THX for help. With the help of SRT (Don Pedro Colley), who seems to be another prisoner but claims to be a hologram come to life, SEN and THX escape the prison and reenter the "real" world. Separated from SEN, SRT and THX try to elude police robots, though none of them have a plan. (The enforcement end of the society sets strict limits on the resources budgeted for THX's re-capture, and will cancel the effort if he manages to hold out) In the end, only THX achieves escape, though it's in one of those cryptic, open-ended endings that were all the rage in 70's sci-fi flicks like "Phase IV".
This was George Lucas's first real feature, one that strongly hints at the latter Star Wars movies, set a benchmark for integrating sound effects into the narrative of a script and, when it tanked, forced American Zoetrope producer Francis Ford Coppolla to helm "The Godfather". Narrative is pretty loose - it took me a few viewings to even understand the dialog, which the script uses less to tell a story than display the many faces of beaten down victims of a totalitarian society. More crucial is the stream of radio-speakers, announcers whose voices float through the ether of Lucas's imagined world. Though many voices remain off-camera, they have the largest impact on THX's life (In once scene, two off-camera technicians fiddle with the security settings for THX's cell, even as they see how this somehow causes THX to suffer horrific pain). Though some scenes hint at parts of Star Wars (such as when THX tries to use a computer to locate LUH, or is trapped in surveillance room with stormtroopers er...I mean police robots having blocked his only way out) they have none of the underlying heroism of the latter series. Lucas is often touted (more often criticized) for being better with machines than people, but he brings out some real pathos here - in one heartbreaking scene near the film's end, children glide in a stupor with their shaven heads, fed narcotics IV'd from bottles on their wrists. The cinematography is excellent, especially in the car chase at the end - the sequence seems otherwise gratuitous, but it's filmed well, and shows that Lucas has a feel more machines and velocity. This was the artsy sort of film supposedly made unprofitable by popcorn epics like Star Wars. When people complain about the escapism and mindlessness of Lucas's films, he can take THX-1138 out and complain about how they underappreciated it. This is a flawed but priceless classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars World creation, Aug. 13 2001
By 
N. P. Stathoulopoulos "nick9155" (Brooklyn, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Thx-1138 (VHS Tape)
The Lucas name is associated most with Star Wars, of course, but his output before that film (THX-1138 (1971) and American Graffiti (1973)) deserves scrutiny and praise. This film does a remarkable job of creating a complete, detailed world that is stark and frightening.
Technically, Lucas does some wonderful things on a small budget. To me, the highlight of this film is the sound. In all of his films Lucas does a remarkable job of creating a soundscape that, combined with the visuals, makes for an immersion in a mini-world. It is highlighted in different parts of each film. Here, in THX-1138, the squawking, in-and-out-distortion of the radio voices as Duvall performs his daily work sounds so busy that we believe Lucas dreamed up another language and knows how to speak it. (Indeed, he painstakingly made sure that all of the robot sounds in Star Wars were distinct so that they indeed sounded like languages.) In American Graffiti, the period music combined with the purr of the classic car engines creates another world that the characters inhabit within the small town. And in Star Wars, the sound highlight for me has always been the final attack on the Death Star. The sounds of the pilots communicating with each other and with the rebel base is complex and immerses the viewer in the attack, making him live it.
Fans of Star Wars as well as fans of intelligent, thinking science fiction should watch this film closely. While it may appear a bit slow upon first viewing, it's pace suits the story and the visuals. Fans of Tarkovsky will certainly appreciate. Many may think that Lucas is a commercial and marketing genius only. However, both THX and American Graffiti firmly indicate that he has tendencies toward the avant garde (he was an avant garde filmmaker at USC) and art film (certainly American Graffiti). Aside from the Star Wars franchise, I would love to see a return to this mode from him in the creation of a mature study of characters in another one of his worlds-within-a-world.
As for the film format, the VHS of this film is fine. But the main question is, when is the DVD planned? This film certainly warrants a deluxe release. I would love to hear a remastered soundtrack, as well as some director audio commentary and any behind-the-scenes or deleted material. A proper DVD release of this on a surround sound home theater system (or in theaters with THX sound(!)) would be very welcome by fans.
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THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director's Cut: Two-Disc Special Edition) [Import]
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