Saturday, August 15, 2009

"THX 1138" (1971) - Movie Review

“THX 1138” is a film mastering in indifference, blankness and a black hole of emotions. That it projects those is what director George Lucas loved to do but it works against it most of the times. With Robert Duvall taking a role which is to pose an equilibrium in maintaining a face of stillness with subtle signs of compassion, this is a film as “2001: A Space Odyssey” depends on its visual and ambience than a plot. Though this film has an outcome than that, Kubrick’s science fiction classic gives a shape that is undeniable.

Somewhere long and far in the future is a place wherein people are walking like white zombies doing mechanical work. The intentions of the controlling voices and other android like people are not explained but if cubicle bee life is routine, see this and one would realize the four walled personal jail is bed of roses. Duvall is the titular character and has a room mate LUH (Maggie McOmie). And we see her replacing the pills aimed at nullifying the emotional muscles. Soon THX and LUH realize their existence has been diminished to void and begin to plan their escape. All this run silently.

This film as much as it tried to put me to sleep is a passionate work. The future is bright but cannot be more bleaker than this. The inmates of this big prison have their voices straightened and the necessities seem to be none at all. The robots are more livelier than the people. Soon THX and LUH are in love and all those are watched by the monitoring personnel. THX and LUH are then separated by this. THX is now condemned in what looks like a prison. Its inmates have no desire to leave except SEN (Donald Pleasance). SEN was turned in by THX and now they begin to venture an escape. Again, all this run silently.

The achievement out here is that Lucas projects a society of inescapability. There is no torture or hard fast rules. The commanding voices always say they are there to help and no reason to be afraid of. They have conditioning sticks which are very specifically used on the body parts. And every one is a number and every part is a number and every communication involves number. I guess the reason to use that would have been to specify there is no speciality given out and second, no exhaustion in using up every possibility.

Now I am not sure whether the version I viewed is an altered and upped up effects version of the original but if not, it truly is futuristic. Long tunnels with super fast cars and lights reflecting the white surface of the walls is the most action one could get out of this world. THX and SEN makes an escape along with a hologram out of its realm SRT (Don Pedro Colley) and that leads to the final car chase. We want THX to escape. What he is escaping is hard to imagine. What is wrong in the world of George Lucas’ imagination cannot be argued as a case. They provide food, shelter and most importantly safety and very importantly painless state of mind. The death is a number, skill is an outcome than an appreciation and there is no sense of touch. The controlling people have implemented a system of blinding the people emotionally.

“THX 1138” is easily a classic science fiction and the fact that George Lucas made it before the cheesy caravans of Star Wars makes it have a greater respect for him. The jump from this film which depends on the visuals and the characters blending in their ambience to the most cheesy and downright insensible pot pourri of entertainment in science fiction troubles me a lot.

“THX 1138” just like Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction is a work of a visionary film maker. While Kubrick relied completely on the media and nothing else, Lucas wants a rebellion in the mix. The titular character who has been weakened by a society realizing his state and then going forward with his fight. The world of this white walls has sucked so much of excitement that even when Duvall’s THX gets into running, driving fast car and climbing high tunnels, there is a slowness in the action. The celebration in the end is calm but affecting.

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