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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 37,044 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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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


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)

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?


Officials at Warner Bros. did not like the finished film. They cut the film and reduced the marketing budget. See more »


During the car chase, THX's car is shown from the front stopping in the right-hand lane of two. A subsequent shot showing a monitor has the car from the rear, stopped in the left-hand lane. 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 Ocean's Eleven (2001) See more »


St. Matthew Passion
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"Drug Abstinence Felony"
10 April 2012 | by (Salisbury, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In George Lucas' 1971 view of 25th century "life", it's not the taking of drugs that lands you in trouble with the 'chrome robots' (police) but the NOT taking of them, for this is a chemically controlled population and environment. And, as ever, a couple of rebels try to break free from these chains....

Robert Duval (THX1138) goes through withdrawal symptoms as he stops the pill-popping, gets his libido back and makes love to his mate, LUH (Maggie McOmie). In a CCT governed environment these felonies don't go unnoticed and THX1138 is charged with sexual deviancy and drug abstinence. It soon comes clear that his sentence will be death and his body used for organ transplantation.

Naturally, Duval and other inmates of the 'detention unit' decide to escape, through the labyrinth of tunnels and with about the only action in the entire film, in futuristic cars, all the while, the soul-less robot policemen in pursuit use pleasant pre-recorded warnings.

I'd not seen or heard of THX1138 until looking up George Lucas on the IMDb. Then, I wondered if a snippet of memory from decades ago of a nude couple in a huge white void being approached by robots was one of the very same. And, yes, so it was, and is. I don't know when, or where I'd seen it before, but the pertinent thing was, that it had imprinted something indelible into my psyche.

Which is a mark of a good film. Not the chases at the end, which to many seem to be the only bits worthy of mention. To me, it is the minimalist, art-house sets that are both the most disturbing and memorable, of rows and rows of technicians and lab assistants. The story now, has been used a lot by now so that it's hardly original, but back 41 years ago (yes!, almost as old as I am) it must have painted a very chilling picture indeed.

It's also quite a dour, solemn picture; contrast that to say, 'Logan's Run', that at least some semblance of freedom on the outside that the couple had sampled and wanted to bring back to their City. I won't spoil those who've not seen THX how code no. 1138 fares and whether he finds freedom, or not.

Overall, a sobering, intelligent and superbly designed film rather than a great epic, far-reaching odyssey that Lucas was to move onto, of course. There are big hints at Lucas' genius at work here, this being his debut release, such as the robotic policemen and the ideas that he was to take into Star Wars.

One then, for the George Lucas fan club and for sci-fi enthusiasts. Mainstream audiences may well be a bit bored and baffled. The script is often confusing, with either nothing said and visuals only to tell us what's going on or, as with the rantings of Donald Pleasance in the Detention Unit, distracting and unnecessary to the story. These faults aside, this is a good sci-fi film, one to jostle the mind and a good grounding from which Lucas made such an epic career.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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