In George Lucas’s fascinating feature debut (based on his short student film), the young director creates a futuristic, underground world in which bald, dronelike workers are forced to take drugs to regulate their moods and stifle their libidos.
THX 1138 (Robert Duvall) and his mate, LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie), are factory workers, building the robotic police that keep order in their stark world. The soundtrack to their lives is a news service that continually lists information about factory accidents, as well as sex and drug crimes, ala George Orwell’s 1984.
There are electronic confessionals for workers to admit to mistakes they’ve made, and THX uses these outlets to express his unhappiness with his life. When LUH decides she and THX should stop taking their medication, their sense of humanity – and their desire and love for each other as a couple – is unleashed.
It’s not long, however, before they are imprisoned for this crime, and LUH learns then that she is pregnant. Separated, THX embarks on a journey to find her with the help of rebel SEN (Donald Pleasence) and hologram SRT (Don Pedro Colley), eventually attempting escape to the outside world.
Combining complex editing and sound techniques with brilliantly subtle performances, THX 1138 is a little-known and vastly underrated sci-fi masterpiece. In an eerily prophetic moment, Lucas also predicts what people will be watching