'THX 1138'

"THX 1138" is a psychedelic science fiction horror story about some future civilization regimented into computer-programmed slavery. Likely not to be an artistic or commercial success in its own time, the American Zoetrope (Francis Ford Coppola group) production just might in time become a classic of stylistic, abstract cinema. Story has some disturbingly plausible overtones, but only a portion of the esoteric audience may turn onto the Warner Bros. release at this time.

“THX 1138″ is a psychedelic science fiction horror story about some future civilization regimented into computer-programmed slavery. Likely not to be an artistic or commercial success in its own time, the American Zoetrope (Francis Ford Coppola group) production just might in time become a classic of stylistic, abstract cinema. Story has some disturbingly plausible overtones, but only a portion of the esoteric audience may turn onto the Warner Bros. release at this time. Heavy exploitation may yield mixed results.

Film is a feature-length expansion of George Lucas’ student film which won kudos some three years ago. In that brief form, the story of one man’s determination to crash out of his worldly prison was exciting; the expansion by director-editor Lucas with Walter Murch succeeds in fleshing out the environment, but falls behind in constructing a plot line to sustain interest. Robert Duvall heads cast as the defector after his mate Maggie McOmie is programmed into the cell of Donald Pleasence, a corrupt computer technician. Don Pedro Colley is another fugitive, who helps Duvall reach his freedom.

Dave Meyers and Albert Kihn photographed superbly the extremely handsome futuristic physical values designed by Michael Haller. Lalo Schifrin’s score is outstanding. Murch is credited with the excellent sound montages which blend some familiar recorded-announcement cliches with the low-key terror of an Orwellian “Alice in Wonderland,” where drug use and sexual suppression are mandatory, and the major crimes are drug evasion and sex relations. With political paternalism rampant at both extremes of the spectrum, Lucas is onto something. In any case, we’ll know for sure in about a generation.

Murf.

THX 1138

Production

American Zoetrope. Director George Lucas; Producer Lawrence Sturhahn; Screenplay George Lucas, Walter Murch; Camera Dave Meyers, Albert Kihn; Editor George Lucas; Music Lalo Schifrin; Art Director Michael Haller. Reviewed at Loews Hollywood, L.A., March 8, '71.

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Original review text from 1971. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

THX 1138 - Robert Duvall SEN - Donald Pleasence SRT - Don Pedro Colley LUH - Maggie McOmie PTO - Ian Wolfe NCH - Sid Haig TWA - Marshall Efron DWY - John Pearce Police Robots - Johnny Weismuller, Jr., Robert Feero IMM - Irene Forrest ELC - Claudette Bessing

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