Oh George, I go looking for your redemption in the years before your obsession… only to find more unnecessary CGI tinkering!
Yes, before Star Wars and before American Graffiti young director George Lucas had a powerful collaboration with executive producer Francis Ford Copolla and composer Lalo Schifrin to create his first feature film, THX 1138.
In a future society human beings are reduced to mere statistics; workers designated in a world automated by machines and technology. Drugs, pseudo religion and television keep the populous docile and efficient, while systems are in place to match couples together to breed. A man working in a robot factory, known only as THX 1138, resists the drug medication in an attempt to experience a normal life. He finds himself cornered in a world entirely designed to “help” him from his affliction of humanity.
It is genuinely intriguing to watch something so subtle from Lucas, something with long, ponderous moments and silent exchanges. The film reminded me of other films I have seen such as 2001 and Gattaca, it is a claustrophobic and mellow experience, minimalist and stark. While this story has been told many times and is straightforward, it is impressive to note THX still has merit and has hardly aged.
Except for the 2004 CGI updates.
Now, most of these updates were not too fatal to the films’ credibility, they were even quite subtle at times. But, there are others that are blatant and unnecessary computer animated additions (including a car chase… Somewhat destroys the subtle minimalistic designs of the film) I’m sure there’s an essay one could write about THX‘s original longevity being ruined by modern computer graphics.
Any fan of science fiction really must watch THX 1138, and if possible find an original copy, though it seems only the “director’s cut” got a DVD/Blu-Ray release. That means only Laserdisc and VHS exist of the original edit.
Additional Marshmallows: “THX 1138” has been referenced in multiple places, from film and television to music. The most obvious being the THX sound department at Lucasfilm.