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THX 1138 would be a happy worker drone, if the pills he takes let him feel anything. He 'lives' in a windowless industrial/commercial/dormitory along with other shaved-head people in a chemically induced haze. Until the day his roommate, LUH, sabotages his daily dose of pills in order to make him feel. They both fall madly in love, but their bliss is short lived since the pills gave THX a vaunted steady hand in his industrial job, and without it they may be discovered.
Which, sadly, they are. Once arrested THX is sent to a strange White Void Room to receive "treatment" for his deviance. He recruits fellow inmates SRT and SEN in an attempt to escape and rescue LUH. However, the escape won't be easy, and in their strange world, nothing is guaranteed.
This is one of George Lucas' earliest works, which started his rapid ascent in Hollywood. You may be more familiar with this film from the sound system company Lucas named in its honor, or from the fact that the number 1138 shows up everywhere in Star Wars and related products. It is also a remake of his USC student film project, "Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB".
- Ascetic Aesthetic: Extending even to the characters' scalps.
- Bittersweet Ending: THX makes it out of the confines, only to find a desert world and with no idea where to go next. Also, LUH 3417 was apparently terminated according to information presented on one of the terminals.
- Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage: Implied with the arrangement of "roommates."
- Conspicuous CG: The Director's Cut was released in the wake of the original Star Wars trilogy being remastered with added CGI. Some of the alterations are understandable, like making some rooms bigger, or adding more people, or generally giving the story a larger sense of scale. Others scenes are augmented with far less defensible uses of CGI, such as the car chase which now looks like it came from an actual animated movie, or the strange men on the outskirts of civilisation being changed to primates
- Epiphanic Prison: There are no guards, nor is there any lock on the one door THX and his allies find. The prison depends entirely on the prisoners being too crazy or too afraid to leave.
- The Evils of Free Will: Permeating the film, and considering THX had better work performance without all those pesky emotions...
- First Time in the Sun: A somewhat dark version in the ending.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: The robotic police are not crazy, they just break down too easy.
- The humans in charge of overall security end their chase of THX when it becomes too costly.
- Hologram: SRT, maybe. Considering he was in the White Void Room, he may just think he is.
- Meaningful Name
- Shout-Out: Chewbacca's species name is first heard here. Doubles as Hilarious in Hindsight.
- We Have Reserves: People aren't considered people, but economic commodities to create wealth.
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic:
- LUH gives THX the gift of
knowledgeemotion by giving him an appleswitching his meds.
- The repeated use of a Christ-like face as the icon of their "perfect" society. Particularly obvious when THX is in one of the confession boxes. The confession box tells him "buy and be happy".
- LUH gives THX the gift of
- What Do You Mean It's Not Political?: George Lucas in his various commentaries indicated that the plot was meant to condemn consumerism that he believed to be the future for America, although some viewers interpreted it as being closer to a condemnation of Soviet-style Communism in practice.
- White Void Room: The place where "defectives" are taken for "treatment".
- X Days Since...: The sign in THX's workplace noting the time since the last accident.
- You Are Number Six: Everyone has a license plate name.
- Pinball Gag: "TILT//" is seen right after the wipe-out of a mounted police officer that was pursuing THX.
- Creator Killer: Kind of. It didn't end George Lucas's career as a filmmaker in the long term, but its failure in the box office DID lead to his initial film studio American Zoetrope being shut down, which consequently forced Lucas to change hands on production of the then-in development Apocalypse Now to his friend and fellow studio worker Francis Ford Coppola.