THX 1138 (1971) Poster



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To provide the large number of extras required, George Lucas contacted the Synanon drug rehabilitation facility. He found many recovering drug users who were required to be shaved bald for the drug program anyway.
George Lucas apparently named the film after his San Francisco telephone number, 849 1138 - the letters THX correspond to letters found on the buttons 8, 4 and 9.
This film predicted separate television channels for violence, sex, comedy, and news. When the film was made in 1971, there were no dedicated channels for types of entertainment.
Co-writer Walter Murch has said in interviews that George Lucas never explained the origins of the character names THX, SEN and LUH to him, but he believes that they are deliberate homonyms for sex, sin and love - the three factors that set them apart from society.
Very little makeup was used on the actors to give them a look of authenticity.
The sounds of the police motorcycles are the sped-up sounds of women screaming together in a tiled bathroom.
The underground chase near the end was shot in a not-yet-completed segment of the BART subway system in San Francisco.
Many of the electronic sound effects heard throughout the film are derived from telephone dial tones, pitch-shifted and electronically modified.
This film was made as a result of George Lucas's student film short project at USC, Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB (1967). Having won significant praise and attention for what was, at the time, an unconventional short, Lucas was given the opportunity to direct a feature-length version starring Robert Duvall, produced by his mentor Francis Ford Coppola under his newly formed production company American Zoetrope. Zoetrope was a financial failure, as was "THX-1138", but the attention was enough to win Lucas the opportunity to make American Graffiti (1973), the success of which paved the way for the opportunity to make Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
For the final sequence in which THX is climbing up to the surface, it is a simple perspective trick. It is not a ladder, but re-bar embedded in concrete. The actors are actually crawling along a horizontal surface. By tilting the camera to appropriate angles, it appears that the characters are climbing upward.
Shortly after THX steals a police car, and shortly before his fellow escapee crashes the one he tries to steal, you can hear someone on the radio say, "I think I ran over a wookie back there on the expressway."
George Lucas has worked the title of this film, or parts of it, in some of his other films. In American Graffiti (1973), the license plate of one car is "THX 138". In Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), a reference is made to "prison cell 1138". The cinema sound certification his company developed is called "THX".
The music playing during the end credits is the first movement from Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244.
To provide the voices of the unseen overseers and announcers, George Lucas contacted San Francisco-based theater group The Committee. He gave them brief character outlines, and allowed the actors to improvise all the "overheard" dialogue in the movie.
Some female performers refused roles in this film because they refused to shave their heads.
Numerous scenes were inspired by Japanese theater, design and graphics.
There are a number of scenes which violate the "180° rule" in film making. This is intentional to convey a sense of disorientation and confusion which THX experiences now he has emerged from drug-induced sedation.
A scene in which THX falls into a garbage compactor and fends off a mutated rodent was cut because the monster did not look realistic. This situation was later reused in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
All holograms on the television are African-American. This includes the character of SRT, the hologram who escapes into the "real world" and the voice of OMM.
George Lucas claims that the scene where technicians mess with THX's nervous system, sending him into comical spasms, was drawn from his antipathy towards the doctors who treated him after his near-fatal car crash as a youth.
Publicity photos and some foreign posters and video covers feature a shot from a scene not included in the final film: The police robots approaching the dead body of the OHM priest (who SEN killed earlier) and checking for a pulse.
Some of SEN's dialogue is taken from speeches by Richard Nixon.
During his arrest, THX's work location is identified as "Operating Cell 94107", referring to the zip code of San Francisco's SOMA (South of Market) district where American Zoetrope's offices were located at the time.
The opening credits scroll down instead of up.
Officials at Warner Bros. did not like the finished film. They cut the film and reduced the marketing budget.
Average Shot Length (ASL) = 6 seconds
David Ogden Stiers's film debut.
The image of OMM in the confessional booths is a cropped image of Hans Memling's painting, 'Christ Giving His Blessing', dated 1481.
Director George Lucas insisted on casting the stage actor James Wheaton over Orson Welles to play the voice of "OMM" in the film.
This was the first film for Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope.
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.
In the computer room near the end of the film, the lights on one computer can be seen flashing the word "TILT".
George Lucas's original plan was to shoot the film in Japan, but Francis Ford Coppola did not give Lucas enough money in the film's budget to take the entire production to Japan. The film was shot in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
George Lucas considers THX 1138 to be one of the greatest achievements of his career.
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The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) features a car chase where the license plate is given as THX 375. The cinematographer on this film was Douglas Slocombe who would go on to work with Steven Spielberg, a long time friend of George Lucas.
The futuristic society depicted is one where separation of church and state no longer exists. Citizens have been drug-induced, then controlled by the government who gives their authority as coming from an imagined higher being. The society is free from worry, fear, want, or sadness... however, it is also a society that is void, sterile, lacking creativity, sex, love, and emotion.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

In the final shot of THX having escaped to the outside, it is Matthew Robbins wearing a bald cap and not Robert Duvall.

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