THX 1138 (1971)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: George Lucas' feature debut presents a spare, bleak, dystopian future, and features evocatively minimal set design and creepy sound effects.

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Movie Info

'THX 1138' is a chilling look at a 25th-century totalitarian state where mankind is stripped of any individuality. People are numbered drones, and a government-enforced program of sedating drugs controls the populace. The story's title character, THX, is a factory worker whose life is irrevocably changed when he stops taking his mind-numbing drugs.

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Critic Reviews for THX 1138

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (13)

Despite his scenes of bland horror, Lucas offers the 25th century as a arch, campy place, a conception not satiric enough to be accepted as comedy and not quite insightful enough to be taken seriously.

Feb 7, 2018 | Full Review…

The empty space surrounding the vulnerable man emphasizes the exertion involved rather than the goal of escape: like the hologram who came to life because he wanted to, THX finally achieves his humanity by an assertion of will.

Jan 18, 2013 | Full Review…

With political paternalism rampant at both extremes of the spectrum, Lucas is onto something. In any case, we'll know for sure in about a generation.

Jun 5, 2007 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

Visually it is often extraordinary, with Lucas playing on perspectives and dislocations throughout, nowhere more brilliantly than in the 'prison' represented by a limbo of whiteness that seems to stretch as far as the eye can see.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

I have a good many reservations about the film's ideas, but they are greatly outweighed by my admiration for a technical virtuosity that by fair means and foul achieves exceptional emotional intensity at the same time.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The whole thing feels like a hypnotic dreamscape, so luminously stark, from its white-on-white abstract sets to the wide-eyed, bald, near catatonic residents of this world.

Sep 13, 2004 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for THX 1138

½

An excessively cold sci-fi that doesn't deserve credit for its plot (Lucas doesn't seem to care enough about exploring his ideas to come up with a consistent social commentary) as it does for its technical merits, with a great use of visual effects and nice sound design.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

This is George Lucas's feature film debut: a startling feature length remake of a short film he made as a student in film school. The story is a futuristic sci-fi dystopia sort of thing in the vein of Orwell or Huxley, with some Kafka thrown in for good measure. Everything is very bland, cold, clinical, and dominated by the color white. Everyone has a shaved head, and no one stands out from anyone else. Everyone is also under the control of mind altering drugs that regulate their behavior, thoughts, and emotions and they are always nder constant surveillance. One citizen in particulatr though, known as THX 1138, wants that all to end, and begins a quest to break free from this confining world and escape to a place where individuality might just be a possibility. The style and stroytelling are extremely minimalist, and the plot is really bare bones. There's some dialogue, but it is very sparse, so most of the world building is done through visuals and sound design, both of which are top notch. This is art directed to the nth degree, and that's what makes it really enjoyable and fascinating. If only Lucas had continued ot make more films like this, then he might be celebrated as one of the best art film directors ever. I'm not kidding.Lalo Schifrin gives a nicely haunting score, and the performances, especially from Duvall and Pleasance are pretty good. All in all, this is a pretty striking piece of work. It might have been nice to have a bit more explanation and backstory, but as an experimental exercise in tone and mood, and just an overall creepy and hypnotic experience in general, this is some wonderful stuff.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

This George Lucas breakthrough film is an interesting take on an Orwellian future, especially for its visual and aural boldness. Unfortunately, its story is as sterilized as its scenery.

Matheus Carvalho
Matheus Carvalho

Super Reviewer

½

George Lucas' debut feature film is a dystopian society film about an underground society where people are controlled and everything is monitored. THX 1138 reminds me heavily of George Orwell's 1984. I am a huge fan of Dystopian novels/films etc. I was very much impressed with Lucas' first film and I consider it a Sci Fi masterpiece and a classic. I thought it was beautifully filmed, and told. The story was well paced and featured a lot of parallels of what was going to become the now famous Star Wars trilogy. THX 1138 has an impressive cast of actors, and they have great chemistry. I loved Donald Pleasence in this film, and is one of the best actors of this period. Robert Duvall also gives a splendid performance as THX, the title character of this picture. Watching this film, you feel like you're reading a George Orwell / Aldous Huxley novel. The world that THX tries to escape from is exactly how I pictured Huxley's world in Brave New World, and it's laws and restrictions on the people living in the underground dystopia echo that of Orwell's 1984. In many ways, THX 1138 is a stepping stone for Star Wars, without it, George Lucas couldn't have crafted Star Wars. I don't believe that THX 1138 is greater than Star Wars, but I would say that both films are two of s kind. They're very different, but there is so many similarities as well. THX 1138 is a masterful film that is a classic of the genre, and with a strong story and great acting and drama, THX 1138 is a compelling film not to be missed by fans of Sci Fi or Lucas fans in general.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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