THX 1138 the George Lucas Directors Cut on DVD
George Lucas' first movie is an enigmatic film about a rather depressing future
society in which the working class consists of drugged masses whose lives consist
mostly of merely going through the motions of life, eating, buying and watching
TV, while their unseen betters run the show.
Sounds depressing, doesnt it or at least a credible vision of
American under a Kerry administration but as in all good stories theres
a lot more to it than that and Lucas shows right from the reverse-scrolling
opening credits that hes an innovative motion picture force with whom
to be reckoned - even on this first film.
THX 1138 is the name of the lead character, played by Robert Duvall. Hes
a waldo operator, a white costumed blue collar guy who just wants to live his
life. But his roommate LUH (Maggie McOmie), is the snake in this supposed Garden
of Eden for the Blissfully Unaware. She loves THX and gets him off his meds
(as so many women do to so many men!) so he can be clear headed enough to return
her affections - until his life is a mess but at least hes in a relationship.
Hey, maybe this is really a documentary!
Okay, I make light of this and that isnt fair. This is a serious film,
about a man rebelling against a stifling society and against impossible odds.
Its also a terrific film, one that justifiably put George Lucas on the
map. And from this point onward he redrew that map and continues to do so today.
THX 1138 is actually an expanded version of a student film Lucas made while
attending USC. The theatrical version was made under producer Francis Ford Coppolas
wing, and though its basically a rather bleak vision of a world in which
consumerism and corporations are the ultimate dictator, in the end its
rather uplifting because it shows that one man can make a difference.
The movie never tells us how this society evolved; rather, joins it in progress
and uses style and moviemaking, for example the stifling white-on-white sterile
society, and the claustrophobic yet overpowering, all pervasive sound design
to emphasize a soulless world of human drones.
I first saw THX 1138 on its original theatrical release and it made me a Lucas
fan. Even though it isnt something youll probably watch over and
over the way you can a Star Wars or even an American Graffiti, Lucas tells a
compelling story using images and sounds, rather than dialog, and if nothing
else it's an interesting and innovative technique.
See this movie if for no other reason than to get Lucas' inside jokes in other
films, such as the licence plate (THX 138) of Paul Le Mat's car in American
Graffiti and a comment in Star Wars Episode IV about a transfer from "cell block
Warner Home Entertainment has done an excellent job on the DVD. This Directors
Cut, which seems to have had some new digital special effects added (which look
neat but dont really add to the film kind of like Lucas Special
Editions of the original Star Wars Trilogy), features outstanding audio and
The THX-certified (and how appropriate is that?) transfer features gorgeous
anamorphic widescreen (16x9 TV compatible) video, though during the all-white
scenes thats a tad wasted. But what colors there are look great, with
sharp images and wonderful detail. Audio has been remixed into Dolby Digital
5.1 surround and it sounds excellent theyve even added some good
Extras abound. Spread over the two discs are a running commentary by George
Lucas and co-writer/sound effects editor Walter Murch, a nifty sound effects
track (Theatre of Noise) that uses DVDs branching capabilities
to whisk you to some 13 master sessions with Walter Murch. You also get two
new documentaries "A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope"
and "Artifacts from the Future: The Making of THX 1138, both of which
Perhaps best of all, theyve even included George Lucas' original student
film "THX-1138 4EB" so you can see the project that launched a career and a
dynasty. Its pretty neat.
And that isnt all. You also get "Bald", a production featurette from
the films original release date, five new trailers from the new theatrical
release, and the original theatrical trailer.
Its a marvelous presentation of an innovative and interesting film.
THX 1138, from Warner Home Entertainment
88 min. anamoprhic widescreen (2.35:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Robert Duvall, Maggie McOrmie, Donald Pleasence,
produced by Lawrence Ssturhahn,
written by George Lucas and Walter Murch, directed by George Lucas
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think