A more contemplative film than the later science fiction work that would make him a blockbuster legend, George Lucas' feature debut THX 1138 already displayed his talent for striking imagery. Produced under the independent auspices of Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope and expanded from Lucas' USC student short, THX 1138's vision of future dehumanization matched androgynous costuming with sparse high-tech settings and an expansive, unnerving, all-white prison "cell," aptly evoking an existence devoid of sensual pleasure. Deliberately paced and infused with early-'70s paranoia as well as somewhat stilted artiness, THX 1138's dystopian view of technology and the future was of a piece with such other contemporary science fiction films as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Soylent Green (1973), and Logan's Run (1975). The climactic, skillfully edited chase and celebratory final image, however, were also precursors to the direction Lucas' filmmaking would take. A box-office failure on its first release, THX 1138 soon became a favorite on college campuses and garnered a re-release after the phenomenal success of Lucas' more nostalgically upbeat science-fiction yarn Star Wars (1977) brought the director and his hardware a fanatical following.
by Lucia Bozzola review