THX 1138 -
The George Lucas Director's Cut Special Edition
Warner Home Video
Date: September 14, 2004
Review posted: September 16, 2004
Robert Duvall stars
as a man whose mind and body are controlled by the government. He
has no name, only a prefix and a number identifies his existence.
He's simply THX-1138. THX makes a harrowing escape from a world
where thoughts are controlled, freedom is an impossibility and
love is the ultimate crime.
presents a bleak future. The only things Robert Duvall's THX is
allowed to do by the government is work and take pills against
depression or chemical imbalances. As any person would, THX gets
tired of it and seeks out other ways to spend his time. His female
roommate, LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie), senses something is wrong, and
not long after she voices her concerns to THX, they engage in
love-making and finally express their feelings towards each other.
However, the consequences of their action separates them, LUH is
transferred to another area and THX must stand trial. THX's life
becomes so monotonous that he seeks freedom, and so he escapes
with SEN 5241 (Donald Pleasance) and hologram SRT (Don Pedro
Colley) from an observation institution.
The film heavily
reminds of 1984, a novel by George Orwell where the
government presides over society and its people, controlling and
regulating their thoughts, actions, and so on. The film's overall
theme, when you deconstruct the various elements, mirrors that of
Plato's "The Cave." THX 1138 feels like a take-off on the
ideas from those materials, but there are differences among the
similarities. Director George Lucas infuses the story with several
good scenes in the beginning, although parts of the first hour are
quite dull. The script is well written in spots, other times it
feels as though there isn't enough "story" to wrap around the
concept of a bleak future.
After the halfway
point Lucas stages an exciting, very well done, pro-longed escape
sequence. Since I didn't see the original version of the film, I'm
not sure if the impact is the same when compared to the director's
cut and all the new CGI shots and added backgrounds. THX 1138
looks great visually now, though I bet it looked pretty inventive
during its time as well.
This is George
Lucas' first feature film and it's an interesting film to say the
least, and later he went on to make the classic Star Wars
movies (not the new ones) and American Graffiti. I'd be
interested to see whether Lucas can make a non-Star Wars
film in the near future, or if he just doesn't have anything else
left to tell.
Warner Bros. presents THX
1138 in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Wow, this film looks
terrific on DVD. Most importantly, it is digitally remastered.
Colors look great, as does sharpness and detail. The new CGI
shots and background plates look terrific. Picture quality is
solid with hardly any noise or dirt. This is a very good,
pristine transfer. Optional subtitles include English, French,
Warner Bros. presents THX
1138 in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. The sound
is digitally remastered. Dialogue is clear and easy to
understand. The sound effects are very nicely reinforced by the
surrounds, and Lalo Schifrin's score comes through very well,
too. A pretty good audio presentation overall. French and
Spanish dub tracks are also available.
The first disc
starts off with an audio commentary by co-writer/director
George Lucas and co-writer/sound designer Walter Murch.
There's a lot of technical discussion going on, and Lucas spends
a lot of time speaking about the philosophy and themes of the
film. The track lacks obvious conversational flow, and it soon
becomes apparent that the comments are edited together from
separate interviews with both participants. Overall, it's a
pretty decent track despite the fact that some info is repeated
in the documentaries.
Also on disc one
is Theatre of Noise, an isolated music and sound effects
track, which works quite well. Master Sessions is a
branching feature that runs with the film or can be selected
individually via brief vignettes. Here viewers get to see video
segments featuring Walter Murch explaining the sound effects and
discussing their importance. The total time of these vignettes
is 30 minutes.
Disc two offers
two comprehensive documentaries. A Legacy of Filmmakers: The
Early Years of American Zoetrope is a 63-minute documentary
narrated by Richard Dreyfuss. There are interviews with Martin
Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and the
obvious participants. The title pretty much explains itself, so
I don't need to tell you what it's about. It's an interesting
look at the early years of an independent studio/production
the Future: The Making of THX 1138 is a 28-minute
all-new documentary that features interviews with selected cast
and crew. It's more of a retrospective than a discussion about
the film's technical nature, but nevertheless it's a pretty good
Also on the second
disc is Electronic Labyrinth
THX 1138 4EB, George Lucas' 1697 student film that inspired
the feature. It runs about 15 minutes in length, and is an
interesting film. Next, Bald is a vintage promotional
featurette that showcases the actors getting their heads shaved
for the feature film. Rounding out the extras is the original
theatrical trailer and re-release trailer.
The only thing
missing from this DVD is a featurette on the film's restoration
and what was added for the director's cut, or perhaps the option
of viewing the original film.
THX 1138 comes
highly recommended. The film, even though it's sometimes a bit dull,
but more so in the beginning, presents a bleak future and tells the
story of one man who wants more out of life, and the twist at the end
sheds some interesting light onto the film's themes.
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