The Ultimate Crime: Love (a look at George Lucas' masterwork THX-1138.)
Overshadowed by his STAR WARS saga, there was a incredibly bright filmmaker in George Lucas prior to that series and perhaps his most serious, most profound, and most masterful work can be seen in his 1971 film THX-1138, which was based off a short film that George shot during his film school days. The film is set in a futuristic society in which sex is outlawed and the people are drug induced in order to keep them under control, however one of the "inmates" THX-1138 (Robert Duvall) has stopped taking his drugs and has impregnated LUH-3417 (Maggie McOmie), which causes them to be thrown into jail, but they are planning to escape. This society is forced to control their emotions and are policed by robots. Sound semi-familiar? Well, if you saw THE ISLAND, it pretty much stole just about everything from this film.
There are of course other films that have elements of this film, Terry Gilliam's equally brilliant and complex films 12 MONKEYS & BRAZIL, LOGAN'S RUN (made a few years later), THE RUNNING MAN, Ridley Scott's masterpiece BLADE RUNNER, and Spielberg attempted to reinvent the wheel with MINORITY REPORT...he even stole the tagline from LOGAN'S RUN in the trailer. All of these films to some degree owe something to THX-1138 and more importantly to another great Science Fiction work and perhaps one of the most visionary works of the genre Fritz Lang's 1927 classic METROPOLIS.
One thing that remains very striking about THX-1138, even after all of these years, is just how alienating the film remains. It's not an easy film for most people to really 'get into' right away. It takes time and patience, very similar to Nicolas Roeg's THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH with David Bowie. Both films alienate themselves (on purpose) to some degree from the viewer, which is not always the easiest thing to sit by and watch or even enjoy. Both of these films are doing this in order to demonstrate and make contrast to what is real and what is foreign. The world of THX-1138 is sterile, cold, calculated, and depressing. It's almost like ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST on tranquilizers. Lucas paints a world that is painful to watch and painful to absord. The only film recently to really come close to this was 2006's brilliant and ambitious CHILDREN OF MEN, which was a bit more raw and less institutionalized. Although, both give a sense of chaos, but in different terms.
What is fearful about THX-1138 is the unknown elements, the world that we are viewing seems hyper-real, it feels unfamiliar to us, therefore the fear of that unknown is present. THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (released that same year) took a similar approach and was also highly effective. However, where these two films go their separate ways are in the human condition and emotion that seems lifeless in THX-1138, with the exception of the artificial love that seems to ensue between our characters, or is it artificial? It seems calculated and expressionless, but then again, our subjects are conditioned to NOT feel love or to engage in sex, which by suppressing these emotions and feelings enable our characters to feel isolated and detached from their inward desires. The monster that is created within can sometimes overcome all obstacles....that is the crux of this film as we see what happens when the borders or love come crashing down in an attempt to 'break free' from the underground world that has manipulated the greatest of all human emotions...love.
An interesting clip:
Last edited by PeruvianSkies; 09-20-2007 at 08:29 PM.