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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 37,352 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


The Future is here. 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?


The cat-and-mouse chase scene between THX and the robot cops was apparently shot in a telephone exchange; the endless rows of electronic equipment are actually telephone switches. See more »


During the car chase, the number 5 on a radio announcer's hat is backwards, revealing the usage of a mirror image. 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

Credits roll down instead of up. See more »


Referenced in Bully (2006) 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

Huxley and Orwell meet the French New Wave
18 September 2004 | by (Xanadu) – See all my reviews

George Lucas has a fairly small body of work, as a director; and most of it is fairly simplistic, except this film. Lucas' first feature is steeped in the French New Wave mode of philosophical musings and strange visuals. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily make for an exciting film. However, there are enough intriguing ideas to sustain some interest, although you do have to fight off the boredom factor.

Lucas is, and has always been, a visual filmmaker. He is not great with actors and his films aren't noted for their performances, except American Graffiti. That was a more personal film, and Lucas probably had a clearer idea of the characters thoughts and emotions. Here, emotions are stifled by drugs and the wooden performances reinforce this.

According to Lucas, the film is the story of escape, told in three different forms: an escape from the drugs that keep people in check, an escape from a prison with no visible barriers, and an escape from the city itself. The final sequence contains most of the action, but is marred by the budget constraints.

Robert Duvall commands attention when he is on screen, but you never really feel like you get to know THX. Donald Pleasance, as SEN, provides a nice turn as the antagonist, of sorts. The rest of the cast is fairly forgettable, with only minor moments. The philosophical underpinnings of the film are often lost in pretension, the same flaw which hit the Matrix in its sequels. Lucas could have delivered his message in a far simpler fashion, probably with greater result. Still, the film does have its interesting moments and memorable ideas and images. The robot police are quite chilling, although they are used sparingly. The white prison is quite unsettling as well. The final escape is the most riveting sequence of the film.

The new DVD has Lucas' trademark tinkering. Only this time, the alterations help to add scope to the film. The city scenes are expanded to add complexity to the environment that was missing in the original. There are no fundamental story changes, as in the Star Wars Special Edition (Greedo shoots first). The commentary and featurettes help the viewer to understand the intent of the story and help to establish the context in which it was made. Lucas makes a statement that he would like to return to this kind of film. Given the disappointing nature of the Star Wars prequels, I wouldn't mind seeing Lucas take another crack at a more cerebral sci-fi story. My only request is that he works with a great scriptwriter.

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