‘THX 1138’ (1971) 400 Word DVD Review

September 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

Score: 3 out of 5

In Lucas’ bold, dystopian society of the future, human beings are mindless drones, drugged into nonchalance and slaves to commercialism. Instead of a name, each person is assigned a series of letters and numbers, like a barcode. Everything is monitored, policed, by armed android guards, and it all functions perfectly, precisely – everything fitting into its right place.

There are, however, some who have chosen to reject this society’s values – those like LUH (Maggie McOmie). As LUH forces herself off the drugs, she becomes aware of her isolation. Imprisoned in a world devoid of colour, warmth and love, she needs company. She finds it in her roommate, THX 1138 (Robert Duvall), and secretly removes the sedatives from his daily intake. As THX also becomes aware of new feelings and emotions, questioning his place in the world, he falls in love with LUH. They form an illicit, intimate relationship, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t stay a secret for long.

“Slow”, “experimental”, “visionary”, “pretentious”, “cold”, “depressing”: these are all words that could apply to THX 1138 as Lucas’ film is an unusual mix of good and bad.

On one hand, the world of THX 1138 is visually arresting. All the interiors of the city are painted in garish, oppressive, hopeless, white, while the highways on the outskirts provide contrast, often clouded in shadow, pierced by the neon rouge lights of cars passing at high speed.

On the other hand, though, the story drags, and we feel little connection with the protagonist, and there doesn’t seem to be much tension for what turns into the “thriller” portion of the film. Despite THX 1138’s reasonable running time, I found myself losing interest, and I just didn’t care all that much about what might happen to the titular character.

THX 1138

Duvall acts his heart out in this scene.

THX is a product of his environment, and so his detached, aloof disposition is consistent with how he has been rendered numb through the continual, prescribed use of sedatives. As a viewer, though, I need something to relate to in order for the contrast to come out – between the humanity and inhumanity of a person in that situation. THX, as he stands, fades into the background like a prop, and in the end I am just left to emotionlessly admire the emotionless-ness of it all.

[Note: this review is of the re-cut 2004 version of the film with additional CGI footage spliced in.]

(377 words.)

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