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THX 1138 (1971)

R  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller  |  11 March 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 37,381 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 203 user | 109 critic | 8 from Metacritic.com

Set in the 25th century, the story centers around a man and a woman who rebel against their rigidly controlled society.



(story), (earlier screenplay), 3 more credits »
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2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maggie McOmie ...
John Pearce ...
Irene Cagen ...
IMM (as Irene Forrest)
Gary Alan Marsh ...
John Seaton ...
Eugene I. Stillman ...
Jack Walsh ...
TRG (as Raymond J. Walsh)
Mark Lawhead ...
Chrome Robot


In an undefined future, a dystopian underground society is oriented to production and consumption in the malls. The population is controlled by drugs and people do not feel affection or sympathy for others. Sexual intercourse is absolutely forbidden and roommates are chosen by a computer. Faceless androids are responsible for the surveillance of the behavior of the dwellers and people pray in Unichapels for their god OMM 0910 that responds through recorded electronic messages. The worker THX 1138 handles radioactive materials in a factory and lives with his roommate LUH 3417. When she decides to stop using drugs, she becomes lucid and replaces the drugs of her partner for harmless pills. THX becomes emotional again and falls in love with LUH. He plans to escape with LUH to the superstructure, where they expect to live in freedom. But when SEN 5241 manipulates the computer to live with THX, he reports a complaint to the authorities and SEN is arrested. When THX commits a mistake in his... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Visit the future where love is the ultimate crime. See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

11 March 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

THX-1138  »

Box Office


$777,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut) | (1971 Studio Theatrical Cut)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Very little makeup was used on the actors to give them a look of authenticity. See more »


During the chase scene at the end, it is shown on one monitor that the THX budget is 3,410 units over the budget of 14,000 units (24%). A voice had stated earlier that accounts are to be terminated when they exceed their original budget by 5%. When the account/chase is terminated, we hear a voice say that the THX project is 6% over budget, which would be 840 units, not 3,410. See more »


[first lines]
Male voice (medicine cabinet): What's wrong?
THX 1138: Nothing. Nothing really. I just feel that I need something stronger.
Male voice (medicine cabinet): If you have a problem, don't hesitate to ask for assistance.
THX 1138: Yes, thank you, I'll be alright.
Male voice (medicine cabinet): Call 3485...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Warner Bros. logo is preceded by a trailer for a Buck Rogers serial (or in early versions, a one-minute scene from Things to Come (1936)). See more »


Referenced in The Lawnmower Man (1992) See more »


Elevator Music
from the Miracle in the Rain (1956) score
Composed by Franz Waxman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Was loving it... was loving it... hated it.
6 August 2007 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

===EDIT: The following review was written before I knew the extent of the cgi doctoring that Lucas added recently. These are the "cheap action scenes" I'm talking about below. If you can find a copy of the original undoctored THX-1138, that's the one to watch.===

Aw man. This film had so much promise. It starts out abstract, minimalist, challenging and poetic. It gets deeper, more bizarre and artistic. But then it suddenly degenerates into a cheap action flick with hi-tech car chases, and it ends with the most simplistic, meaningless resolution. Total letdown.

It's as if Hamlet's famous soliloquy went:

"To be, or not to be: that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows... and CARS! and MOTORCYCLES! and fast whizzy things BAM!! The End!!!!"

I suspect that Lucas began this film with a fantastic premise & with artistic intent, but then he suddenly realized "hey wait, I don't know what I'm doing. How do I end this damn thing?" True, it's an interesting dystopian drama. George must've been reading a lot of Kurt Vonnegut when he filmed this. Yes, it's very much in the style of 2001: A Space Odyssey. George must've been watching a lot of Kubrick. But that's where it ends. George fails to present anything original. And as it unravels into a simplistic action flick in the last 20 minutes, you realize that George has been fooling you for the last hour and a half. Literally, it ended, and I said out loud, "Uh... is this where Lucas got bored and stopped filming?"

Still, I have to give him an "A" for effort. Like most of the other reviewers, I was blown away by the fact that George Lucas was capable of this type of abstract poetry. With the exception of those cheezy action scenes (which I'm sure Lucas added ex post facto, like he did with Star Wars + CGI) it is reminiscent of the old Michael Crichton films (Andromeda Strain, Westworld) with maybe a dash of Rollerball.

The early 70s was a wonderful time for scifi, because all the directors were scrambling to emulate Kubrick's masterpiece. But like this film, the effort ran out of gas and eventually slumped into plot-driven cheese. What is so frustrating is that Lucas could have made something truly great if he had just followed up on Donald Pleasence's cryptic ramblings midway. Unfortunately, he chose to go in the other direction, and the film ends with no dialogue for the last 20 minutes. Instead we get a lot of (ex post facto CGI) special effects and chase scenes. What a shame. We literally see before our eyes the unfortunate turning point of Lucas' career.

In space, sometimes a nebula--for all its swirling promise--never quite consolidates itself into a star. This movie, like Lucas, like the failed nebula, is the big one that got away.

P.S. George, if you're listening, please stop adding "new" special effects to the old films! You're not impressing anyone. You & Ted Turner both...

20 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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