Friday, September 25, 2009

THX 1138. B

Everyone associates George Lucas with the 'Star Wars' franchise, but no one hardly ever bothers to mention the fact that he had a career before that saga, albeit a very small one. He made two films, both of which I admire. One was 'American Graffiti,' which I saw a few years ago and enjoyed. And then there's his first film, 'THX 1138' that I just recently viewed. It's a strong piece of pure science fiction, and it was clear that Lucas made the film according to his own desires rather than Hollywood's. It looked like a young artist's work. Lucas got his career going sort of with this and 'Graffiti,' but then he made all the money with 'Star Wars' and never did anything else really. It's a common story. He made his money and then lost his ambition. But I wonder how much creativity was taken away due to the success of 'Star Wars,' because it's clear by watching this movie that he had a special vision. The story is set in the future, and life is very restricted for the inhabitants of a strange underground world. People have partners and they are referred to by numbers and letters. Robert Duvall plays THX 1138, a worker who tests the system, rebels against it, and is then captured and put in a sort of limbo; an area where everything is completely white. This is an odd picture. It doesn't offer much time to make itself entirely clear as far as the plot points go. But the themes are as bright and clear as the sun at the end of the movie. But the real plus to 'THX 1138' is the visual style that Lucas uses to convey a sense of depravity and desolation in a frightening future. It's not masterful, but it is unique. The film was obviously shot on a tight budget, which limits Lucas' use of big sets and expensive equipment. But he makes the most of what he has, and though the movie as a whole isn't great, it certainly offers inspiration for young filmmakers, especially those seeking out the sci-fi genre.

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