|THX 1138 (VHS, 2002) (VHS, 2002)|
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George Lucas was only 26 when he made a short film consisting of just about the same story-line. Even though he still has a fairly small body of work under his belt, his direction helped shape many filmmakers points of reference for years to come. Made in 1970, this film had much to tell, and did so in a way that most people could easily relate to. Looking at his work, this film is much more complicated than most. As Lucas' first feature length film THX 1138 is steeped in the French New Wave mode of philosophical musings and strange visuals. The sounds are sometimes overwhelming yet draw you in to the film through audio stimulation. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily make for a totally exciting film that's just a roller-coaster of fun. However, there are enough intriguing ideas to sustain many segments of interest in the future, although you do have to get past the slow parts of the film.
Lucas is, and has always been, a visual filmmaker. He is not great with actors and his films aren't noted for their performances, except "American Graffiti". That was a more personal film, and Lucas probably had a clearer idea of the characters thoughts and emotions. Here, emotions are stifled by drugs and the wooden performances reinforce this skewed perspective.
According to Lucas, the film is the story of escape, told in three different forms: an escape from the drugs that keep people in check, an escape from a prison with no visible barriers, and an escape from the city itself.
The final sequence contains most of the action, but is marred by the budget constraints. The most interesting thing about this film was its references to totally harmony in worshiping the deity OMM.
Robert Duvall commands attention when he is on screen, but you never really feel like you get to know THX. Donald Pleasance, as SEN, provides a nice turn as the antagonist, of sorts. The rest of the cast is fairly forgettable, with only minor moments. The philosophical underpinnings of the film are often lost in pretension, the same flaw which hit the Matrix in its sequels. Lucas could have delivered his message in a far simpler fashion, probably with greater result. Still, the film does have its interesting moments and memorable ideas and images.
The robot police are quite chilling, although they are used sparingly throughout the film. The white prison is quite unsettling as well. The final escape is the most riveting sequence of the film. Actually, the end silhouette was not Robert Duvall at all, but, then again, who would even question that kind of trivia any way?
Given the disappointing nature of the Star Wars prequels, I wouldn't mind seeing Lucas take another crack at a more cerebral sci-fi story. My only request is that he works with a great scriptwriter.
I'm going to give this 4/5 for it's pure genius vision to capture the future.
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This movie helped set the pace for a lot of the Sci-Fi greats. Obviously a well thought out and detailed plot. Very deep. Lucas' METROPOLIS.