Thx 1138

1971, Movie, PG, 88 mins

Review

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George Lucas's feature debut is muted, brooding sci-fi, expanded (under the auspices of Francis Ford Coppola) from the short film with which Lucas won the 1967 National Student Film Festival. A young Robert Duvall plays THX (pronounced "Thix"), who attempts to escape from a futuristic society located beneath the Earth's surface. Reminiscent of the repressive societies described in George Orwell's 1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and especially E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops," Duvall's society has outlawed love and sex, with drugs as mandatory dietary supplements. McOmie plays Duvall's love interest, who awakens him to the pleasures of love after she and Duvall stop taking the libido-stifling drugs; they're arrested, and in prison she discovers she's pregnant. They hook up with Pleasence, who persuades the two to escape with him. Meditative and downbeat rather than crowd-pleasing, the film includes a few sequences that suggest the direction Lucas career later took, including a tense, stylishly edited car chase, in which the director makes impressive use of a relatively low budget, and some flashes of wit, like the computerized confession boxes. Sharp-eyed Lucas fans may have noticed that in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, Paul Le Mat's Deuce Coupe sports license plates that read "THX 138." For the film's 2004 re-rlease (which preceded its DVD debut), Lucas took advantage of new digital technology to tweak the film in subtle ways, adding crowds, new backgrounds and occasional details, like making Duvall's eyes digitally roll back in his head dirung a scene in which his mind is co-opted. leave a comment

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