THX 1138 (1971)

(On VHS, April 2001) The story’s been done better elsewhere (man tries to escape his oppressive society; see Dark City, Gattaca, Truman Show) but this is a creditable effort for the seventies. You will be unable to associate this grim and artistic George Lucas with his latter American Graffiti or Star Wars series. (Sharp-eyed observers, however, will note Lucas’ recurring motifs of car chases and distrust of technology) Unfortunately, Lucas’ vision is hampered by four things; a low budget, a lack of storytelling skills, no knowledge of science-fiction and an approach more suitable to arty films than popular entertainment. All of this combine to produce a film with recycled imagery, simplistic plotting, awful dialogue, an unsatisfying ending, laborious introduction/development of well-known concepts and “artistic” imagery that exasperates more than it enlighten. While THX-1138 doesn’t hold up to modern standards and inspires more guffaws than deep thoughts, it’s of definite historical interest. Worth a look despite everything else.

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