Film: THX-1138
Year: 1971
Rating: 3/5
Summary: Fascinating art but dull entertainment.

THX-1138 is one of the lesser known films by George Lucas, the director of the phenomenally successful Star Wars trilogy.

The story is relatively simple, albeit a little hazy. Similar to Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World, the film is set in a dystopian future where people are bred in order to work to make products and buy those products. While the government doesn't seem particularly evil per se, it is intent on keeping people efficient, even though the cost of that efficiency is keeping them on antidepressants. The protagonist understandably tries to escape from this society.

Rather than always directly seeing what's happening to the main characters, a lot of the time you see CCTV footage of them being watched by someone monitoring them. It's never made clear what's going on, and it is up to the viewer to work the plot out from reading the messages on people's consoles and listening to their inane chatter as they carry out their mundane jobs.

This film oozes atmosphere, featuring a symphony of voices distorted by being recorded and repeatedly played back or transmitted over the radio. This is the only instance I can think of where a director has made the audio of a film even more stylised than the video. As a result, THX-1138 has been sampled on a lot of albums.

The problem with this film is that it tells a simple story in an interesting way. Most people are used to watching interesting stories told in a simple way. While there was nothing wrong with George Lucas's approach to directing this film, it ensured that THX-1138 will be studied by intellectuals and referenced in pop culture instead of being enjoyed by people who want to be entertained.

If you want to soak up atmosphere, then the interesting use of detuned radio communication and security footage can give even Blade Runner a run for its money, but if you want to see someone rising up against their oppressors in a dystopian future, you'd be better off watching Equilibrium or The Island.

As art, THX-1138 is great for giving you a gimpse into another world, but as entertainment, it's not well thought out. You'll either find it fascinating or completely boring.