Tuesday, December 16, 2014

THX 1138 (1971)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Imagine a world where love and sex are both crimes. Instead of names, people are assigned an alphanumeric designation. Deviation from the norm is either ‘cured’ or results in the abnormal person being isolated from society.

THX 1138 is an average ‘person’ in such a society. He works in a factory making robots. His roommate, LUH 3417, monitors things. He and she both lead the life that the state wants them to, for the most part, until LUH starts altering THX’s diet. He starts to notice a change. He goes to a cookie-cutter confessional, where an image resembling Christ lights up and a recorded confessor plays. It’s very generic; people don’t seem to notice that it’s the same thing every time. (“Yes…Yes…I see…Please explain…”)

Eventually, THX gets to a point where he’s able to love his roommate and even have sex with her. SEN 5241 knows what’s going on. He wants to be THX’s roommate, so he reassigns LUH and puts himself put in her place. (He’s not supposed to be able to do this, but he’s very good at hacking into the computers.) THX and SEN end up turning each other in; both end up separated from society with a group of people that are deemed incurable. (Basically, everyone is medicated. I assume that these are the people that have problems that can’t be medicated.)

SEN wants to lead the people back into society, or at least to establish himself as their leader. THX simply wants to get out. Anyone who wants to come along is more than welcome to follow so long as they don’t bother him. SEN and THX set off to find the way out. The trick is that their prison is pure white in every direction. You can’t even see where the floor meets the horizon. Eventually, they meet a hologram who is able to show them an exit. (I’ll explain about the hologram later.)

The three of them leave and find themselves in a busy walkway. SEN gets separated from the other two and manages to get as far away as possible. THX and the hologram go in another direction and find their own way somewhere else. I won’t tell you what happens because I don’t feel it’s necessary to do so in order to discuss the movie. (Why should I ruin it for you?)

The society that you see in THX 1138 is a cross between Gattaca and 1984. Everything is controlled by a government or authority. There’s little or no room for deviation. Those that have seen Gattaca will remember it as being a very dark, dismal portrayal of the future. THX 1138 is a very bright, well-lit portrayal of the future, but is still rigid. Everyone is bald. Almost everyone is white and wears white clothing. One exception is the previously mentioned hologram, who’s black. I don’t think that he’s an actual hologram, per say. Rather, he’s an actor on a program that’s projected as a hologram. (He’s being called by what he does rather than what he is.)

It’s a very sterile-looking society. Almost everyone looks the same with very little differentiation between the genders. One of the recurring lines throughout the movie is that consumption is being standardized. Everything is ordinary, down to what people eat and what people watch. (Well, ok. Entertainment does some variation, but there don’t seem to be too many choices.)

The special edition contains two discs. One has the movie and some commentary on the audio. The other has trailers and all sorts of commentary on the movie. I definitely recommend watching the commentary on both discs. When watching the movie, you’ll find no explanation provided as to where the society is or how it got that way. It’s simply presented to you. The viewer is left to interpret the society and figure everything out. The commentary goes into what the filmmakers wanted and how they were trying to present the movie to you. There’s also some history of the film company, American Zoetrope, and how THX 1138 came to be as a movie.

This isn’t a movie for children. There’s not much nudity and what nudity there is isn’t really that erotic. However, I don’t think that many children will be able to understand the movie. (It took me maybe about five or ten minutes to really start understanding what was going on.) Also, even though everything is bright, there is a depressing aspect to the movie. Much of the movie deals with wanting to break free, either in a literal or figurative sense. This society is controlled. There’s almost no room for individuality. People just eat, sleep and work. I really don’t think a child would be able to handle this.

Even among adults, I don’t think that this movie is for everyone. I’m actually going to recommend this movie to my brother, who I think will like this. However, most of the people that I know would probably wouldn’t really be able to fully appreciate it. 

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