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Thx1138 (Thx) [VHS]
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Product Description

George Lucas's enigmatic feature film debut expands on a student film he made at USC. Created under the wing of producer Francis Ford Coppola, this movie is a bleak vision of a world in which technology, not man, is the ultimate dictator. Efficiency overrides every other aspect of human life, as people are reduced to code names and their lives are contained, monitored, and manipulated for the sake of the system. Featuring unsettling performances by Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasance, and Maggie McOmie, THX 1138 does not attempt to explain how things became this way; rather, it utilizes the alienation of its characters, the stifling white-on-white imagery of its sterilized society, and the claustrophobic, droning sound design to emphasize the dangers of a world reliant on soulless technology. Even though this is not a film one will want to take in repeatedly, THX 1138 merits attention because it is that rare film that uses images and sounds--rather than relying heavily on dialogue--to communicate its dark prophecy. --Bryan Reesman

Customer Reviews:

  • Georgie screws it up (again)
    When I first saw THX 1138 back in the '70s I was spellbound. George Lucas' vision of an antiseptic consumer driven dystopia where not taking drugs was a crime really resonated with me and was original for the time. So I bought this DVD thinking that by "Director's Cut" I'd get extra scenes that were edited out of the original, WRONG! Instead George Lucas has added scenes of modern CG that are completely out of character with the original movie. The original movie was claustrophobic and paranoid. Everything occurred in white hallways or small spartan rooms, or on video monitors. The one exception being the "white out" detention center where the only color came from a few pieces of furniture and the actors faces. Now we have wide angle city shots interjected throughout that completely destroy that ominous and powerful claustrophobic mood of the original. That's not the worst of it though. There's some awful CG character animation as well. George has seen fit to replace the shell dwellers. Originally they were supposed to be humans that had mutated from prolonged exposure to industrial wastes and were played by little people with wild matted hair. And what did Lucas replace them with? CG monkeys, yes that's right, CG monkeys. Nasty ones to be sure, but fake looking, obvious bits of animation nonetheless. He also adds an equally fake looking scorpion-like animal that frightens Donald Pleasance's character SEN. Well we see a foot next to a scorpion-like animal and then Pleasance scurrying away going back to the city. And there's now a car race scene during rush hour traffic that adds nothing to the movie, looks like a video game and once again detracts from the original mood. The worst new bit though is the masturbation machine THX uses while watching holograms looking like a giant milking machine descending from the ceiling. It manages to be simultaneously vulgar, pointless and really really silly. What I find most annoying about this director's cut is that no mention was made re the new added effects. When will George Lucas realize that it's not a good idea to do change a movie simply because he can? Most likely never. Unlike modern DVD's of the '70s era Dr. Who TV show, you are not given the choice of either watching the original movie or watching scenes with newer special effects added. You get what George Lucas decides to give you and that's it. The additions to THX somehow degrade the movie and make it a less than adult film. The movie seems more childish, more fantastic and much less real. I've since sold my Director's Cut and have ordered a used VHS tape of the original movie, which is the only way I can see the splendid original since it hasn't been released on DVD. Yeah I still have a VCR, thank god....more info
  • Better than A Boy And His Dog
    I was in 5th grade when I saw the tv show 21st Century. They were shaving womens heads. The women were crying and explained they where making a movie, THX 1138. Not long after I saw the movie and loved it. 1975 my last year of high school I had the same teacher in two classes. In film class he had us watch THX 1138. In my second class,having nothing to do with movies,he had us watch THX 1138. I couldn't believe my luck. I think this movie played a major part in my outlook on life....more info
  • George Lucas ruining his movies
    I didn't want to give this movie 1 star because the original version was phenomenal but the extra cg scenes Lucas sliced in are totally out of context and in bad taste with the film. Granted there aren't as many edits as the Star Wars massacre's but they're still there and they're horrible. Try to get a vhs copy and transfer it to dvd, even though most vhs copies are in bad shape by now....more info
  • World creation
    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....more info

  • Lucas' Premier Movie (Meaning his First)
    This is a really fantastic movie!! And I mean that literally as well as figuratively. The society it portrays is of a different world-- but which is an extension of ours. Any movie which pits the protagonist against society for falling in love with his roommate (because she substitued his daily drug dosage with placebos) is worth a look to begin with, but this one is particularly fascinating -- one of the major characters is a hologram.

    I'll bet this film helped Lucas on his way to his wonderful career in movies.

    Definately well worth seeing, but you have to buy it (I did on line for peanuts) in order to see it because it is totally overlooked in the film biz.

    Nowadays when you go to a movie theater it often begins with a sound system credit for THX. hmmmmmm ...more info
  • Old School Lucas
    George Lucas's debut Based on his award-winning student short, feature cerebrally celebrates the possibility for individual freedom against all odds. In a 1984-esque white-washed future underground dystopia where sexuality is banned, all humans sport shaved heads and the same shapeless outfits as they go about their work in a mandated state of sedation, listening to exhortations to "Buy and Be Happy." Black-clad robot cops chant a mantra to their victims that "everything will be all right" and automated confessional booths emit soothing therapeutic bromides. But unbeknownst to THX 1138 (Robert Duvall), his roommate LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie) has been reducing their meds, resulting in their mutual discovery of love and THX's subsequent imprisonment for drug evasion and sexual misconduct. Determined to find the pregnant LUH, THX breaks out of prison with the help of his cellmate SEN 5241 (Donald Pleasence) and an escaped TV hologram (Don Pedro Colley). With fugitive pursuits strictly budgeted, THX only has to evade the robocops until the funds run out, but surveillance is omnipresent and THX's vehicle keeps overheating. Making the only film produced through the first incarnation of Francis Ford Coppola's independent studio American Zoetrope, Lucas and his small crew, including co-writer and sound editor Walter Murch, shot THX 1138 in northern California with no interference from distributor Warner Bros. When Warners saw the austere result, however, they recut the film before its release. Neither the studio's nor Lucas's cut was a popular success, but THX 1138's coolly minimalist style and story-telling gained fans on the college screening circuit, just as Stanley Kubrick's poetic 2001: A Space Odyssey had attracted a large youth audience in 1968. When Lucas returned to sci-fi after American Graffiti, he traded restraint for nostalgic fun in the film that guaranteed his creative freedom!...more info
  • This may be my favorite film of all time
    I have never seen a film that moved me as much as THX-1138. It is a cinematic masterpiece, a warning, a trip to the not so distant future. The film technique is utterly superb, as is the sound/music. 25 years ahead of its time, at least. Maybe way beyond that, seeing as how few people really "get" this movie.

    We now live in an age when some parents are having their children taken away from them for refusing to drug them up with Ritalin, which is an "upper" very similar to cocaine. Remember that when watching the film. Also remember things like the National Security Agency's Echelon spy system, which very likely "scans" all electronic communications sent in the world. Take a look at mainstream media, which keeps us satiated with images of violence and sex, and where the intellectual discourse by talking heads is really anything but.

    THX-1138 is much less fictional than most would care to notice. It is also incredibly subtle, requiring a great many viewings to even begin to comprehend (what is Robert Duvall saying when he "snaps" while at the public confessional booth? Rewind several times with the volume at max -- a truer statement has not been made in another film _ever_.) There are many hidden messages in this movie that only an astute researcher of the occult and conspiracy theory will appreciate (the white lizard is key).

    The question is, are you ready for this movie? Probably not, but it's worth a rental or purchase anyway....more info