George Lucas' First Feature Film
Welcome to the THX 1138 page!
Thanks to lots of positive feedback, I've decided to expand this site gradually. But I can't do it alone! Click here to find out how you can help! These new developments may take a few weeks, but in the meantime, enjoy the rest of the site!
Interview with William Loughborough, who provided the voice for one of the robot officers in the film!
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Behind the scenes pictures... actors having their heads shaved for the movie! SEE IT to believe it!
First to clear up some common misconceptions: THX 1138 is NOT a stereo system, nor is it a movie theater or a company. It is a movie. If you haven't heard of it, I'm not surprised, because it was never very popular. It didn't even make it's money back for the first theatrical release, although it did when rereleased after Star Wars' success, and it is rare to find a store that carries it. If you really want it, Blockbuster Video will special order it, which is relatively inexpensive, and I highly recommend it.
THX 1138 Facts
- THX 1138 was based on a student film Lucas made while attending USC.
- The original title was Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB
- The stars of the film were Robert Duvall as THX 1138 (yes it's a name!), Donald Pleasence as SEN 5241, and Maggie McOmie as LUH 3417
- THX 1138 was not only ahead of its time in sound effects, but also in the themes which it portrayes, such as the loss of individuals for the good of the group, the self-corruption of the human spirit, racism in science fiction, and yes, even channel-surfing
- The film was produced by American Zoetrope Studios, then co-owned by Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola
- The extras used in the film came from a drug rehabilitation center called Delancey Street Foundation. The only way to enter Delancey Street was to have your head shaved. (Thanks to firstname.lastname@example.org)
- When George Lucas lived in the San Francisco Bay area, where the tunnel scenes in THX were filmed, one of his phone numbers was 849-1138, or as a mnemonic, THX-1138. (Thanks to email@example.com)
So what exactly is this movie ABOUT, anyway?
THX 1138 is set in the 25th century. The title character is only one of thousands of nameless, faceless workers in the huge underground colony. He works a shift in a robot factory and then goes home to his roommate, LUH 3417, to take the government-controlled sedatives and watch midlessly violent hologram programs.
LUH, however, has somehow seen through the clean, peaceful exterior, and knows what their society really is. She switches THX's usual sedatives for stimulants, and they begin to fall in love and engage in illegal sexual activity. Meanwhile, SEN 5241 has a plan of his own to switch the computed roommate matching system so that he ends
up roommate to THX and LUH is conveniently cast aside. Tampering with the computer system is as illegal as having sex, and all three are eventually turned in and found guilty for their crimes. THX is taked to a seemingly endless white holding place and conditioned by the very law-enforcement robots he had helped to build.
Eventually, he meets up with SEN and several other outcasts who constantly plot getting out, but are too frightened to actually try anything. THX and SEN are fed up with this and head for escape on their own. On the way, they meet up with a "hologram", one of the black actors who served on the holographic television. He helps
them to escape, and they realize that the exit was never far away and that it was only their own fear keeping them in the holding area. As they escape, SEN is frightened by the prospet of living away from the controlled environment and rushes back, choosing safety and predictability over freedom. THX and the hologram push on
toward the outside. They steal two abandoned cars and race for the exit, pursued by the robots the whole time. The hologram's car crashes, leaving THX alone. What follows is a desperate chase with a uniquely modern ending. To find out what happened to THX and LUH and how it all ends up, you'll have to see the movie. I'm not in the habit of giving away endings!
Ties To Later Films
- The "shell dwellers" in THX served as the basis for the Jawas in Star Wars.
- The sound made by the staves which the robots use to condition prisoners are remarkably similar to the lightsaber sound effect.
- Star Wars was, at one point, going to be a prequel to THX, with the character who would become Luke Skywalker conceived as a young THX.
- The licence plate number on Milner's deuce coupe in American Graffiti was THX 138.
- In Star Wars, Luke says "Prisoner transfer from cell block 1138."
- During the car chase scene, someone can be heard over the intercom saying "I think I ran over a Wookiee back there on the expressway." As any good Star Wars fan can tell you, Chewbacca is a Wookiee.
- In The Empire Strikes Back, General Rieekan says, "Send Rogues ten and eleven to station three-eight."
- Not from a Lucas movie, but in The Lawnmower Man, the experimental chimp is named Rosco 1138.
- This is unconfirmed (I'll confirm it as soon as I can get to the theatre again!) but a reliable source told me that the battle droid who loses it's head in The Phantom Menace has the number "1138" on its back.
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George Lucas Directs His Student Film on Which THX Was Based
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