THX 1138  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

THX 1138 is a 1971 American science fiction film directed by George Lucas in his feature film directorial debut. It is set in a dystopian future in which the populace is controlled through android police and mandatory use of drugs that suppress emotions. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and written by Lucas and Walter Murch, it stars Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasence.

THX 1138 was developed from Lucas's student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which he made in 1967 while attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The feature film was produced in a joint venture between Warner Bros. and American Zoetrope. A novelization by Ben Bova was published in 1971. The film received mixed reviews from critics and failed to find box-office success on initial release; however, the film has subsequently received critical acclaim and gained a cult following, particularly in the aftermath of Lucas' success with Star Wars in 1977.

Plot

In the 25th century (as stated in the novel; the film never specifying a year), sexual intercourse and reproduction are prohibited, whereas use of mind-altering drugs is mandatory to enforce compliance among the citizens and to ensure their ability to conduct dangerous and demanding tasks. Emotions and the concept of family are taboo. Everyone is clad in identical white uniforms and has shaven heads to emphasize uniformity, except the police androids (who wear black) and robed monks. Instead of names, people have designations with three arbitrary letters (referred to as the "prefix") and four digits, shown on an identity badge worn at all times.

At their jobs in central video control centers, SEN 5241 and LUH 3417 keep surveillance on the city. LUH has a male roommate, THX 1138, who works in a factory producing android police officers. At the beginning of the story, THX finishes his shift while the loudspeakers urge the workers to "increase safety"—and congratulate them for only losing 195 workers in the last period—to the competing factory's 242. On the way home, he stops at a confession booth in a row of many, and relates his concerns and mumbles prayers about "party" and "masses", under the Jesus Christ-esque portrait of "OMM 0000". A soothing voice greets THX, and OMM ends every confession with a parting salutation: "You are a true believer, blessings of the State, blessings of the masses. Work hard, increase production, prevent accidents and be happy".

At home, THX takes his drugs and watches holobroadcasts while engaging with a masturbatory device. LUH secretly substitutes pills in her possession for THX's medications, causing him to develop nausea, anxiety, and sexual desires. LUH and THX become involved romantically and have sex. THX later is confronted by SEN, who arranges THX as his new roommate, but THX files a complaint against SEN for the illegal housing mate change. Without drugs in his system, THX falters during a critical and hazardous phase of his job, and a control center engages a "mind lock" on THX which raises the level of danger. After the release of the mind lock, THX makes the necessary correction to that work phase. THX and LUH are arrested and THX undergoes drug therapy. He enjoys a brief reunion with LUH, disrupted shortly after she reveals her pregnancy.

At THX's trial, THX is sentenced to prison, alongside SEN. Most of the prisoners seem uninterested in escape, but eventually THX and SEN find an exit, and they are later joined by hologram SRT 5752, who starred in the holobroadcasts. During the escape, THX and SRT are separated from SEN. Chased by the police robots, THX and SRT are trapped in a control center, from which THX learns that LUH has been "consumed", and her name has been reassigned to fetus 66691 in a growth chamber. SEN eventually escapes to an area reserved for the monks of OMM, where a lone monk notices that SEN has no identification badge. SEN attacks him and later wanders into a child-rearing area, strikes up a conversation with children and sits aimlessly until police androids apprehend him. THX and SRT steal two cars, but SRT crashes his into a concrete pillar.

Pursued by two police androids on motorcycles, THX flees to the limits of the city and escapes into a ventilation shaft. The police androids pursue him on motorcycles along the shaft to an escape ladder, but are ordered by Central Command to cease pursuit, on the grounds that the expense of his capture exceeds their allocated budget. The guards inform THX that the surface is uninhabitable but he is undeterred and continues up the ventilation shaft. The city is then revealed to be entirely underground, and THX has escaped onto the surface, where he then witnesses the sun setting. A bird can be seen flying in the distance, indicating that at least some life is still inhabiting the planet's surface.

Cast





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "THX 1138" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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