Not many people know that George Lucas’s first science fiction film wasn’t Star Wars. His debut film was actually a Dystopian movie entitled THX1138, a disturbing look at what things could be like if freedom was a thing of the past. The world that THX1138 is set in is a dark one, where the populace is controlled by mind altering drugs and emotions are considered a form of mental illness. Love is the worst and most dangerous thing one can have in this dark new world, though there are those who still long for it. THX 1138 is the name of the main character, who is a normal person working in a factory where the androids that police society are built. His roommate, LUH, is a woman seeking more out of life than a clean and stale world. She messes with the meds they take and the two of them fall in love. THX, now feeling emotions, makes a dangerous mistake at his job which leads to his relationship with LUH being discovered. They are attested and put back on their meds, then THX is separated from LUH and sent to prison. He manages to escape but after a harrowing clash with security robots, THX is forced to flee the city. Though he has been told the world outside of it is dead and uninhabitable, he crawls up and out of a vent shaft, reaching the outside. The film ends with THX seeing a sun set for the first time and seems to realize that everything he has been taught since birth is lies.
Robert Duvall delivers a remarkable performance in THX 1138 conveying both THX 1138’s original, less than human state and the man he later becomes. The film boosts many powerful performances but it is the movie’s score and at times stunning, visual atmosphere that make it work. All in all, the film is very high concept, simple in plot, and true work of art in terms of its visuals.
THX 1138 is not a film for children. Its content is very mature and its plot complex. Despite the mixed reviews the movie was met with upon release, today it’s considered an underrated, mostly lost SF classic. THX 1138 is certainly not a movie that’s for everyone, but fans of mature Dystopian SF are likely to enjoy it.