THX 1138 - Special Edition
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THX 1138 - Special Edition

4.2 4
Director: Gary Leva

Cast: Dan Natchsheim, Robert Duvall

George Lucas' rarely seen, experimental, bald-headed first journey into the world of science fiction, THX 1138 finally arrives on DVD in the form a digitally enhanced two-disc "George Lucas Director's Cut." Just as he has done with every release of his Star Wars series, Lucas has tweaked his film with a new edit and several new digital special effects.


George Lucas' rarely seen, experimental, bald-headed first journey into the world of science fiction, THX 1138 finally arrives on DVD in the form a digitally enhanced two-disc "George Lucas Director's Cut." Just as he has done with every release of his Star Wars series, Lucas has tweaked his film with a new edit and several new digital special effects. The film's bleak, claustrophobic cityscapes have been transformed into vast, sprawling, claustrophobic cityscapes that slightly resemble the cloud city of Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. Other additions include a bizarre, yet exciting new moment in the film's final jet-car sequence, and an odd moment where THX (Robert Duvall) is attacked by digital monkey-like "shell dwellers." As no original version of the film is made available on this edition, this new version may upset long-time fans, yet anyone familiar with the quirks of George Lucas should be used to "special editions" of his films. The DVD manages to capture the sterile, white look of the film brilliantly with outstanding clarity and picture quality. It is difficult to believe the footage shot in the late '60s is not brand new. THX 1138 has been given a gorgeous letterboxed transfer to disc one in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Rounding out the disc are the film's special features which include a thought-provoking and in- depth commentary track by Lucas and the film's co-screenwriter, editor, and sound designer Walter Murch. Murch returns once again on the disc for a series of branching video segments accessible throughout the film where he explains the methods he used for creating the complex sounds used in the film. The film's absorbing soundtrack has been mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and can be listened to in an isolated audio track of just score and sound effects. Alternate dubbed tracks and subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish. The second disc is a treasure chest of wonderful material not only for fans of the film but for any fan of the filmmaking process. Starting out the disc is a fascinating hour-long documentary, A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope. Directed by Gary Leva and narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, the documentary shows how young film school grads Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas worked to form a late- '60s artistic alternative to the Hollywood system only to have that same system nearly destroy their dreams. Next on the disc is an equally amazing documentary titled "Artifact From the Future: The Making of THX 1138," which goes into detail on the making of the film from concept to script to head-shaving to filming, as well as its eventual box-office failure. Along the way we hear from some of the film's many fans, such as Frank Darbount and Steven Spielberg, on how the film has influenced and affected their careers. A vintage making-of documentary titled "Bald" also sheds more light on the film's head-shaving antics and features a wonderful, priceless moment where a very young Francis Coppola interviews an even younger George Lucas long before the two of them took over the film world with The Godfather and Star Wars films. Also included is a holy grail for George Lucas fans, his original film-school version of THX 1138, titled Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB. Dark, grainy, and unsettling, the short gives a clear hint of what was to come in Lucas' career. Rounding out disc two is an original trailer and five trailers for the film's 2004 rerelease. The obvious care in the overall presentation of THX 1138 on DVD adds up to an outstanding release for an influential and stunning science-fiction film classic.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
The first feature-length movie directed by George Lucas, 1971's THX 1138 was actually an expanded version of the award-winning short film he made as a USC film student. It's far removed from the space opera of his Star Wars series. THX 1138 is a dour, futuristic tale about a repressive society in which sex is forbidden, people all look androgynous and have numbers rather than names, and individual freedoms are drastically curtailed by a soulless bureaucracy. Robert Duvall stars as the "malcontent" THX 1138, who yearns for something better after being imprisoned following his affair with LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie). He becomes a fugitive, pursued by implacable robot policemen. The story line is somewhat confusing and some of the characters (including SEN 5241 played by second-billed Donald Pleasence) are not clearly defined, but Lucas grabs the viewer's attention with a succession of marvelous images achieved with fluid camerawork, harsh lighting, and minimalist settings. He paints a bleak picture of the future, staging much of the action within a labyrinth of bright white tunnels. Although THX 1138 isn't what you'd call an "actor's picture," Duvall keeps it interesting by virtue of his tightly controlled performance, which suggests much but actually reveals very little. The overall sterility of the piece keeps it from being truly engaging in the way that the Star Wars movies are, but Lucas's tyro effort has picked up a cult following that passionately defends this flawed but fascinating film.

Product Details

Release Date:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Digitally restored and remastered; Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1; Commentary by co-writer/director George Lucas and co-writer/sound designer Walter Murch; "Theatre of Noise Experience": Isolated music and sound effects track with master sessions, branching video segments showcasing Murch's pioneering work; Languages: English, Français & Español; ; Two new documentaries: "A Legacy of filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope" and "Artifact from the Future: The Making of THX 1138"; Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB, Lucas's original student film; Vintage production featurette "Bald"; Original and rerelease trailers

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 -- THX 1138, Disc 1
1. Credits [2:55]
2. What's Wrong? [2:12]
3. On the Job [1:59]
4. End of Shift [:09]
5. Home [:27]
6. Chemical Imbalance [4:15]
7. Forbidden Proximity [:10]
8. SEN's Plan [:09]
9. Mind-Lock [4:05]
10. Trial and Punishment [2:29]
11. Medical Diagnosis [:10]
12. Fighting Back [:11]
13. Prisons Without Walls [5:04]
14. The Shell Dweller [5:49]
15. The Way Out [:26]
16. The Hologram [:09]
17. Foot Chase [3:59]
18. Tagged [:23]
19. Intruder's Prayer [:08]
20. The Fate of LUH 3417 [1:34]
21. Jet Cars [:09]
22. Hot Pursuit [1:33]
23. Restricted Expressway [:13]
24. Nothing to Fear [:10]

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THX 1138 - Special Edition 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
A truly artistic masterpiece. THX 1138 is not something that everyone will enjoy. It is a movie that film focused intellectuals will find fascinating. It's one of the most beautiful works I've ever seen. It isn't as abstract or quite as good as 2001, but it is amazingly good in its own way. Philosophical sociological science fiction films are not for everyone. For the people that do like them, though, this is one of the best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An essential film to be studied by fans of early George Lucas work. You see in this film definite example of his style that can be seen in his other 70's work and is sadly missing in any of his latter projects. It's a remake of his college film course work of the same name and is a remarkable work for a first time director. The sterile world he creates for this film fully absorbs the viewer. It is visually exceptional.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago