THX 1138 (1971)

THX 1138 (1971)
Article #1621 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-22-2005
Posting Date: 1-19-2006
Directed by George Lucas
Featuring Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence, Don Pedro Colley

In an oppressive future environment where sex is outlawed and drugs are mandatory, a man who has gotten his roommate pregnant finds himself at the mercy of the authorities.

Those who know Lucas’s science fiction work solely through the Star Wars movies may be caught off guard by this, his first full-length motion picture (based on a student film). Though it too is science fiction, it is a far cry from the serial-like thrills of his later series. Storywise, it’s a bit of a cross between “1984” and “Brave New World”, with a little big of THE GREAT ESCAPE thrown in for good measure (and it shares one cast member from that movie — namely, Donald Pleasence). The movie takes place in a bleak, depressing world, and it’s quite difficult to follow at times. However, it does have a great sense of style, and it makes you wonder about the other directions his career might have gone if STAR WARS hadn’t become the phenomenon it did. It’s well acted by all the principles, though I think Donald Pleasence’s character the most complex and fascinating. The director’s cut has what looks like a bit of tampering; there are some scenes involving ape-like creatures that I don’t think I’ve seen before and which look a too CGI-ish for the time in which the original movie was made. Still, I like some of the touches; the patter between the robot guards is amusing, and the fact that the pursuit of the escapees will only continue for as long as it doesn’t go more than five percent over the budget allotted to it; this is the kind of detail I just love in movies like this. The movie also features Don Pedro Colley, Maggie McOmie and Ian Wolfe in memorable roles, and Sid Haig has a great moment destroying a robot guard.

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