THX 1138 (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

THX 1138 (1971)

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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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Cast

Robert Duvall
as THX 1138
Maggie McOmie
as LUH 3417
Mark Lawhead
as Shell Dweller
Susan Baldwin
as Control Officer
Henry Jacobs
as Mark 8 Student
Bill Love
as Mark 8 Instructor
Gary Austin
as Man in Yellow
Paul K. Haje
as Prosecutor
Ralph Chesse
as Proctor
Dion Chesse
as Defense
Bruce Chesse
as Pontifay
Morris Erby
as Newscaster
Jean Durand
as Listener
Scott Beach
as Announcer #1
Neva Beach
as Announcer #2
Terence McGovern
as Announcer #3
Julie Payne
as Announcer #4
James Cranna
as Announcer #5
Ruth Silveira
as Announcer #6
Bruce Mackey
as Announcer #7
David Ogden Stiers
as Announcer #8
Robert Feero
as Chrome Robot
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Critic Reviews for THX 1138

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (12)

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.

Full Review… | January 18, 2013
Village Voice
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | June 5, 2007
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.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
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.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | September 13, 2004
Washington Post
Top Critic

Lucas described THX as 'an artifact from the future,' and we're supposed to struggle for understanding. That's part of its hypnotic undertow.

Full Review… | September 13, 2004
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for THX 1138

½

An excessively cold sci-fi that deserves credit not so much for its plot (Lucas doesn't seem to care enough about exploring his ideas to make some consistent social commentary) as it does for its technical merits, with a great use of visual effects and 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

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