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THX 1138 (1971)

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In the twenty-fifth century, a time when people have designations instead of names, a man, THX 1138, and a woman, LUH 3417, rebel against their rigidly controlled society.



(story by), (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
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 ...
Shell Dweller


It's sometime in the future in a state controlled society, where conformity and homogeneity are the rule. What is also the rule is that the populace follows the wants of the faceless state without question. How this is achieved is through a mandatory drug regimen, which also suppresses human desire, with sexual intercourse and human relationships banned. The law of the state is policed by a force of robocops. The physical environment is totally within a manufactured enclosure, what being outside of this unknown. THX 1138 is a loyal subject, he who goes about his business as a skilled factory working building robocops. And even when he begins to have strange feelings, he does what is obliged by going to the state run confessional, which further brainwashes through its reinforced mantra of happiness, loyalty and understanding. THX 1138 is given a glimpse into the other side through his computer matched and thus appointed female roommate, LUH 3417, and her surveillance colleague SEN 5241... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Love Story Filmed on Location in the 21st Century 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)

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The underground chase near the end was shot in a not-yet-completed segment of the BART subway system in San Francisco. See more »


When THX is shouldered, naked, by the police in prison, we can see his short shorts tan line on his leg - pretty impossible for people in an underground city. (Unless, of course, there are solariums/tanning salons in the city.) 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...
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Crazy Credits

Credits roll down instead of up. See more »


Referenced in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) See more »


St. Matthew Passion
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Outstanding dystopian drama
3 November 2004 | by See all my reviews

I had to check the DVD case twice - made in 1970. The only thing that vaguely suggests the period in which the film was made are the blaxploitation-style TV/hologram shows, and I'm stretching for that one. Lucas' (and Ford Coppola's) realisation of this uniform future society is immaculately researched and presented in costume, lighting and shooting and - crucially - in content. The genius of this film is that a semblance of individual autonomy is maintained, from hideous confessional substitutes to the extraordinary, ambiguous and thoroughly depressing end. There's also humour and realism aplenty inamongst the surrealism of this futuristic vision. [There's also additional CGI towards the end, but I'll overlook this error of judgment]

A fine performance from Robert Duvall as the titular number is complemented by both Donald Pleasance (a less self-aware human compared to Duvall: heartbreaking) the upbeat Don Pedro Colley. Maggie McOmie's Luh manages to be breathtakingly beautiful in a sort of Midnight Express style haircut and uniform nurses fatigues and her requited love for Duvall sets up a long bitter fall after their separation.

If Ford Coppola saw technical competence and imagination in Lucas' student short, then he deserves recognition for assisting to turn this into such a convincing feature. I was expecting an esoteric exercise in technical experimentation and loopy sci-fi postualtion and got my existential insides kicked out instead. 8.5/10

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