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Robert Duvall as THX 1138

Maggie McOmie as LUH 3417

Donald Pleasence as SEN 5241

Don Pedro Colley as the hologram SRT

Ian Wolfe as the old prisoner PTO

Marshall Efron as prisoner TWA

Sid Haig as prisoner NCH

John Pearce as prisoner DWY

James Wheaton as
the voice of OMM 0910


THX 1138 was the first film made in a planned seven-picture slate commissioned by Warner Brothers from the 1969 incarnation of American Zoetrope. Lucas wrote the initial script draft himself based on his earlier short film, but Coppola and Lucas agreed it was unsatisfactory.

Murch assisted Lucas to write an improved final draft. For some of SEN's dialogue in the film, the script included excerpts from speeches by Richard Nixon. The script required almost the entire cast to shave their heads, either completely bald or with a buzz cut.

As a publicity stunt, several actors were filmed having their first haircuts/shaves at unusual venues, with the results used in a promotional featurette entitled Bald: The Making of THX 1138. Many of the shaven-headed extras seen in the film were recruited from the nearby addiction recovery program Synanon.

Filming began on September 22, 1969. The schedule was between 35 and 40 days, completing in November 1969. Lucas filmed THX 1138 in Techniscope.

Most locations for filming were in the San Francisco area, including the then-unfinished tunnels of the Bay Area Rapid Transit subway system, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, the Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, the San Francisco International Airport and at a remote manipulator for a hot cell.

Studio sequences were shot at stages in Los Angeles, including a white stage 100 feet long by 150 feet wide for the "white limbo" sequences.

The chase scene featured Lola T70 Mk.IIIs with dummy turbine engines racing against Yamaha TA125/250cc 2-stroke race replica motorcycles through two San Francisco Bay Area automotive tunnels: the Caldecott Tunnel between Oakland and Orinda, and the underwater Posey Tube between Oakland and Alameda.

According to Caleb Deschanel, cars drove at speeds of 140 mph while filming the chase. The chase featured a spectacular motorcycle stunt: Stuntman Ronald "Duffy" Hambleton, rode his police motorcycle full speed into a fallen paint stand.

With a ramp built to Hambleton's specification, flew over the handlebars, was hit by the airborne motorcycle, landed in the street on his back, and slammed into the crashed car in which Duvall's character had escaped evidently the subject of a comment by Lucas detailing a "motorcycle disaster" during the filming.

According to the film's commentary, everyone at the location was stunned and immediately ran in to ensure Hambleton was alright. According to Lucas, it turned out Hambleton was perfectly fine.

But he was angry with the people who had run into the shot to check on him; He was worried that they might have ruined the amazing stunt he had just performed by walking into frame.

THX's final climb out to the daylight was filmed (with the camera rotated 90 degrees) in the incomplete (and decidedly horizontal) Bay Area Rapid Transit Transbay Tube before installation of the track supports, with the actors using exposed reinforcing bars on the floor of the tunnel as a "ladder".

The end scene, of THX standing before the sunset, was shot at Port Hueneme, California, by a second unit of (additional uncredited photographer) Caleb Deschanel and Matthew Robbins, who played THX in this long shot.

After completion of photography, Coppola scheduled a year for Lucas to complete post-production. Lucas edited the film on a German-made K-E-M flatbed editor in his Mill Valley house by day, with Walter Murch editing sound at night; the two would compare notes when they changed over.

Release and Reception

THX 1138 was released to theaters on March 11, 1971 and was initially commercially unsuccessful, earning back $945,000 in rentals for Warner Bros, but still leaving the studio in the red. Critical reception was mixed at the time of its release. A contemporary survey of reviews found 7 favourable, 3 mixed, and 5 negative.

The film, however, started to receive positive reviews over the years and gained critical acclaim. As of 2014, the film is rated "fresh" on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 90% and an average rating of 7/10.

In 1977, after the success of Star Wars, THX 1138 was re-released with the footage that had been deleted by Warner Bros. edited back in, but still did not gain popularity. This version was subsequently released on laserdisc and VHS, but has not been released on DVD or Blu-ray.

In 2004, The George Lucas Director's Cut of the film was released. Lucas shot new footage for the film, computer-generated imagery was used to modify scenes by expanding crowds, settings and backgrounds and adding digital characters, and audio/video restoration techniques were applied to the film.

Resources: Wikipedia.org, imdb.com

THX 1138 - 1971 | Plot and Screenshots

In a city of the future, use of mind-altering drugs is mandatory and sexual intercourse is prohibited. Drugs are critical both in maintaining compliance among the city's residents and also for ensuring their ability to conduct dangerous and demanding tasks for long periods of time.

Everyone is clothed in the same white work clothes all the time, except the chrome-faced police androids who wear black, and robe-wearing monks. At their jobs in central video CCTV control centers, SEN 5241 (a man) and LUH 3417 (a woman) keep surveillance on the city. On LUH's face there can be seen clear signs of some emotional distress.

LUH has a male roommate, THX 1138. The two share "nothing but space". He works in a factory producing androids that function as police officers. The work is hazardous as it requires handling explosive and radioactive material.

He leaves the job after his shift has ended, while the loudspeakers urge the workers to "increase safety", and congratulate them on their record of "only losing 195 workers" in the last period, to the competing factory's 242.

Returning from work he stops at a telephone booth like personal Unichapel, one in a row of many, and mumbles prayers about "party" and "masses" while sitting there under the gaze of a wall portrait of a man's face, a being known as "OMM 0910".

A soothing voice greets THX and offers to share his problems. 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."

Back at home, it's an empty space almost without any fixtures except the in-wall drug cabinet with inbuilt lens, which greets him with "what's wrong?" when he opens the cabinet's door, and offers him medicine to "improve calmness".

He takes his drugs, watches a holo-broadcast of a naked dancing African woman in an empty room while engaging with a masturbatory device, then switches to scenes of brutal beating of a person by police officers, afterwards. LUH alters her drugs intake, ignoring warnings of dangerous "drugs interaction" coming from the lens in the cabinet. She secretly substitutes her pills for THX's medications.

THX finds himself experiencing emotions and personal affection for the first time. They engage in love-making. Knowing that their physical relationship is illegal, THX must decide whether to return to using the prescribed drugs, or escape with LUH. He knows that he will not be able to function without his drugs while at his demanding job, but he does not want to lose what he has created with LUH.

She suggests an escape out into a "superstructure," but he is indecisive. THX is confronted by SEN, who uses his position as LUH's superior to change her shift, admitting he wants THX as his new roommate. THX files a complaint against SEN for the illegal shift change.

Without drugs in his system, THX falters during critical and hazardous phases of his job, while being monitored by his increasingly concerned supervisor. A control center is alerted to the situation and executes "overriding mindlock" on THX to immobilize him for further arrest for drugs evasion. This occurs at a critical juncture of android construction, which almost leads to a minor nuclear disaster.

The control center disavows responsibility for the incident. THX and LUH are arrested. THX is imprisoned in an area that resembles a white limbo world. He enjoys a brief reunion with LUH one disrupted by the enforcer robots, not before she reveals to him she is expecting a child. At THX's trial the prosecution demands he be destroyed but the defense argues there still must be some "use" in him. Defense wins.

THX is consigned to another region of limbo, this one populated by a collection of other prisoners, including SEN. Knowing that THX filed the complaint against him, SEN nevertheless rallies him to join his undescribed cause. Most of the prisoners seem uninterested in escape, but eventually THX and SEN decide to find an exit. They encounter SRT 5752, who starred in the holo-broadcasts.

SRT says he has tired of "being a hologram" and wants "to be a real person" now. Exiting their unguarded prison, THX and SRT are separated from SEN. Controllers in the city learn of the escape. A budget of 14,000 credits is allotted for their recapture.

Chased by the robots, THX and SRT are trapped in a control center, from which THX learns that LUH has been "consumed", possibly for organ reclamation (since bodies discovered earlier had, as SRT put it, their "insides...gone") and her name reassigned to fetus 66691 in a growth chamber. This suggests that she has been declared "incurable", and "used".

Alone and hunted, SEN makes a tentative exploration of the limits of the city's underground network. Cowed by what he sees, he finds his way to an area reserved for the monks of OMM. Alone, SEN prays directly to OMM - which is a wall sized portrait in an abandoned TV studio - before being confronted by a lone monk who notices that SEN has no identification badge.

SEN attacks him before the monk can report him. Returning to the "central web", SEN wanders into a child-rearing area, strikes up a conversation with children and then sits aimlessly there until police androids apprehend him without a fight. THX and SRT escape and steal two cars, but SRT crashes his into a concrete pillar.

Pursued by two police androids on motorcycles, THX in his car flees to the limits of the city. Abandoning his car, THX eventually locates a ventilation shaft leading to the surface. The police pursue him up an escape ladder, but are ordered by central command to cease pursuit.

Though they are close to capturing him, the expense of his capture exceeds their pre-determined budget by 6%. It is then revealed that the city is entirely underground, as he stands before a giant red setting sun in the evening sky, seeing this view for the very first time in his life.

Dystopian Main

1927 to 1987

1993 to 2002

Ćon Flux

The Island

Babylon A.D.

Death Race


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