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Sunday, 18 September 2016

THE SEED FOR 'STAR WARS'. 'THX 1138' HITS 45!

A 25th century nightmare unveiled in THX-1138. Images: WARNER BROTHERS/LUCASFILM. 

Starkly impressionistic, within a created environment of uncomfortable sterile repression and shocking violence, yet also highlighting subtle nuances of character, tenderness and hope, George Lucas's first film with the studio backed THX 1138, based on his acclaimed and award-winning USC short from the late sixties, was way ahead of its time when released in 1971. In fact, too ahead of its time. Despite it's being well made, with Lucas more than proving himself as a writer/director to watch out for, the film's concept and its moralistic intelligence and thought-provoking ideas ultimately went over people's heads, soon engendering the hateful wrath of WARNER BROTHERS when it failed at the box office. Thankfully, time would be kind to THX 1138, becoming a much more appreciated and respected endeavour reaching its landmark 45th Anniversary.

THX 1138 (1971) - Original Trailer - YouTube

A different kind of love story for Robert Duvall's THX and Maggie McOmie's LUH.

Very much the ultimate sci-fi art house film of the early seventies, whilst also joining the genre's elite "future shocks" club established by the likes of SOYLENT GREEN, THE OMEGA MAN and ROLLERBALL, and keeping in the tradition of George Orwell's prescient scaremongering with 1984, it is indeed hard to think that the George Lucas who made this would be the same man who'd bring us the joyously emotional and uplifting spectacle of STAR WARS six years later. And yet, the seeds to the birth of STAR WARS can be found in THX 1138: the idea of a tyrannical controlling regime, police robots that would become Stormtroopers, a kind of innocent hero in THX morphing into the younger Luke Skywalker, and a finale high speed chase that would be transferred to a trench run within a space station, or into a speeder bike conflict for the later RETURN OF THE JEDI!

The true definition of a "Police state".

THX 1138 | Lucasfilm
Shelf Life: George Lucas’ “THX 1138” - IFC

George Lucas and Robert Duvall behind the scenes.

If anyone out there hasn't seen THX 1138, either in original or Director's Cut form, its well worth checking out, reminding us of the building talents of Lucas in the lead-up to 1977.

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