Friday, February 18, 2011

CULT MOVIE REVIEW: THX-1138 (1971)


George Lucas remains both the God and Devil of sci-fi film enthusiasts.  A God, because he gave the world Star Wars in 1977, and in the process changed both science fiction movies and Hollywood film making forever. 

A Devil -- at least according to some -- because Lucas also transformed his Star Wars empire into a merchandising platform and then made prequels that quite a few critics don't believe measure up to his original vision for the franchise. 

Also, Lucas has endlessly and fruitlessly tinkered with the Original Trilogy (see: Greedo shoots first, or CGI Jabba in the Star Wars special edition).

Intriguingly, the recent Blu-Ray release of THX-1138 "The Director's Cut" (first released on DVD in 2004) provides ample ammunition for anyone seeking to pigeonhole the controversial Lucas as either a cinematic deity or film demon. 

What this means in simple terms is that THX-1138 is still a staggering and beautiful vision -- a film experience unlike any other -- but that it has been unnecessarily compromised by the obsessive tinkering of latter-day Lucas.  

So the once austere, low-budget, and wholly impressive THX-1138 now bizarrely features CGI critters, CGI landscapes, and other digital flourishes that not only seem unnecessary; but actually detract from the movie's abundant raw power and sense of unfettered ingenuity.  A film that Lucas once described as a critique of "unbridled consumer culture" is now merely a product itself, seeking a slice of the market with the very latest in digital wizardry.

I don't like that one whit, and Lucas's continued insistence on trying to paint away the decades in his films-- the cinematic equivalent of the Peter Pan Syndrome -- makes ignoring these changes virtually impossible. 

So THX-1138 is a great science fiction film that, in my opinion, has been compromised by its own creator in its latest incarnation.

But don't let that stop you from seeing THX-1138 even in this new, bastardized form.  The original film thoroughly deserves the descriptor "classic," and if you enjoy post-apocalyptic and Orwellian science fiction, Lucas's vision still retains much of its power.  

Just look away when the CGI monsters start showing up...

"Our relationship is normal and conforming."

THX-1138 is the story of a very unhappy future.  Man has moved underground to a vast, overpopulated metropolis, and is under the thrall of not Big Government, but Biggest Government. 

This government keeps the populace on drugs at all time. To be sober and drug free in this world  is a crime called "criminal drug evasion."

The State also keeps tabs on its citizenry with video surveillance monitors, knowing everyone's location and activity at every moment.  There are even cameras mounted behind bathroom medicine cabinets.  

In this future world, the differences between men and women are also intentionally minimized by the State...a unique speculation on where "political correctness" could lead if legislated enthusiastically and allowed to run amok.  In the world of THX-1138, unisex hair-cuts and wardrobes mask all gender differences so that the people can concentrate only on work and "produce" goods.     Sex, or even sexual attraction are distractions from production. 

In terms of work, citizens toil in robot-making factories and at other mundane tasks seemingly around the clock.  And they are entertained at home by strange, pornographic holograms produced by "The Fantasy Bureau."  Their sexual needs are fulfilled individually, by what can only be described as masturbation automatons

Additionally, the citizenry are constantly encouraged to shop in their spare time.   One of the Government's mantras is "Buy more and be happy." 

In this world, the Government has actually replaced God too, and workers confess their sins to Big Brother in the attractive, artistically-rendered personal confessional booths dotting the city. 

"Blessing of the State," are offered by  this personal confessional kiosk...but just don't expect any privacy.  Every word, every idea is closely monitored.  All answers and advice from the State comes in the form of canned, off-the-shelf platitudes.

One day, a female worker in this dystopia, LUH-3417 (Maggie McOmie) goes off her meds and realizes that she is in love with her roommate, THX-1138 (Duvall). She take steps to get him off his meds too, and THX-1138 eventually reciprocates the powerful emotions.  The duo begins a sexual relationship, but sexual relations are strictly forbidden by the state....which is controlling the population levels, a la Z.P.G

In this world, you can't even choose a roommate, let alone whom you might want to love.

When the State grows aware of LUH and THX's personal rebellion, LUH is replaced at home by SEN-5421 (Donald Pleasence), and THX grows angry, wanting to know what has become of LUH.  He is then imprisoned in a vast white holding cell -- one with seemingly no walls.  There he sees LUH again, and she claims she is carrying his child.   

Finally, THX escapes and attempts to flee the city after he learns of LUH's death  In close pursuit are the ubiquitous, faceless police robots that keep the citizenry in line and patrol the streets.

In the end, THX-1138 does escape to the surface, not because of his own resourcefulness, necessarily, but because continuing the pursuit would cost the government too much money. 

 "Remember, thrifty thinkers are always under budget..."

"If you have a problem, don't hesitate to ask for assistance."

When I reviewed Walkabout (1971) here earlier in the week, I discussed the idea that the landscape of the Australian Outback was actually a character in the film, as well as a setting for the drama. 

THX-1138 remains impressive because George Lucas nails the same vibe here, but in a totally fictional world, one which he impressively constructed on a budget of only $700,000 dollars. Again, this is something of an amazing feat.  Here, every single component of a future world had to be constructed, from corridors to costumes to props, and the seams rarely, if ever, show.  He also makes excellent use of existing locations to give the film the necessary sense of scope.

Lucas embodies the world of the future, the world of The State, using a  potent combination of good editing, excellent camera work, insert shots and also alien-sounding jargon or dialogue. In conjunction, these facets of the film's presentation render it an almost overwhelming sensory experience.  This mechanized, impersonal world never feels faked or phony.  It is a believable in a most disturbing fashion.  In some ways, THX-1138 is very much a mood movie.  The overall impression of visiting this grim future world is as powerful (or more so..) than the character interaction or specific details of the narrative.

Most interestingly, Lucas non-conventionally and routinely breaks up the frame space of his characters by focusing obsessively on close-ups of computer print-outs, insert shots of sine-waves, and minimalist sets.  All of these high-tech shots enhance the impression of a world that has lost touch with nature; with Mother Nature herself, and human nature too.   It's a fascinating approach.  As we seek to identify more and more with THX-1138, that quest is often stymied -- intentionally -- by insert shots of technological gobbledygook, by shots of numbers, or read-outs, or electrical impulses coruscating on screens.

And the dialogue is a stew of futuristic nonsense, unintelligible and deliberately inhuman.  "Don't use the 714," "Wait for 32," "Skip the 1114," "See Index 24-941," and so on.  The obvious conclusion -- enhanced by the ubiquitous presence of robot police enforcers -- is that machines have overtaken this world, and human nature is being snuffed out by drugs, by conformity, by the tyranny of technology itself.

Ironically, Lucas makes this tyranny rather beautiful by the use of holograms, sine-waves, surveillance camera footage and close-ups of read-outs.  The only thing I can compare his approach to here is Robert Wise's use of similar high-tech imagery in The Andromeda Strain (1971).  In both cases, an artist's eye is applied to the machine world, and a strange sense of non-human beauty is fostered.  

THX-1138 also visually transmits the ideas of humans as being unimportant in their own world by applying a consistent white-on-white color palette.  Only the black robots and the flesh of bald human heads stand out from the washed-out, immaculate, computer-perfect background. 

This is one reason why I object so much to Lucas's twenty-first century revisionism.  In the new version of the film he layers on lush coloring (particularly gold) and this diminishes the movie's visual transmission of his theme: that humans have become background noise in their own culture.

One of THX-1138's most beautiful and emotional scenes -- the sex scene between THX And LUH -- reverses this approach, and for the right reason.  Here, shades of human flesh dominate and Lucas provides beautiful, extreme close-ups of passionate, remarkable human faces (and also bodies) intermingling. 

This heightened, human moment represents the very antithesis of the world largely portrayed in the film, and so it's right -- and clever - that Lucas reverses techniques to depict the love scene.  It becomes infinitely more powerful this way, almost epic as a rebellious statement against society's rules and regulations.  Again, I must point out that this selection of technique is that of an artist who understands the frame, and power of film in a potent way.

There's some beautiful paranoia in THX-1138, and it contributes a suffocating tension that drives the film.  Individual rights have been taken away to such a degree by this overbearing Big Government that a beautiful woman, LUH, is replaced by a man, SEN, as a roommate, and Duvall's character is supposed to have no feelings about that. 

Although homosexuality is never broached explicitly in the film, Pleasence's effete performance adds another layer of interest to the proceedings.  SEN seems as obsessed with THX as LUH was, and we aren't sure that sex isn't on his mind, either.  The message isn't anti-gay, to be sure, but anti-freedom, or anti-individual.  In this world, you can't choose who you co-habitate with; and the government could just as well hook you up with a man as a woman, and expect you to quietly conform.

THX-1138 is also clever in the fashion that the screenplay stresses how the surface appearance of individuality actually reduces the overall sense of human connection in the future metropolis.  Here, there are no churches where communities can gather to listen to sermons or lift collective voice in hymns.  The confessional kiosks, pointedly called "unichapels," determinedly seat only one; meaning that the communal aspects of spirituality have been deleted from the culture.  

It's very much the same story with sex in the film.  By offering pornographic home holograms and masturbation robots, the State has also made sex a single-serving, one-person activity.  Again, what's lost in this but essential human connection; the intimate link with another being.

The mantra about shopping -- about conspicuous consumption (buy and be happy) -- also makes the citizenry focus on self; not community.  What do I want to buy today?  What would please me?  The most important thought isn't  "how can I make the world better," but how can I make my life better.

There also appear to be no families in the film. The Government has thus removed community and human ties to such a degree that the individual has only one meaningful connection in his or her life: to the goods-selling, religion-spouting, sex-providing State.

Visually, THX-1138 is undeniably stunning.  Late in the film, Lucas imagines a prison with no walls.  It is just an endless vision of white...nothing.  This is a canny image that again undercuts convention and buttresses the movie's theme.  If a person is trapped in a jail cell with walls and bars, he knows that there is an outside; an escape.  If a person is trapped in a jail cell that seems infinite -- with no end and no beginning -- there is no hope of escape; no possibility of a way out.  In microcosm, the prison thus symbolizes the State: it is so all-encompassing in the lives of its citizenry that nothing else is visible.  There is no hope on the horizon.  There is nothing.

Stylistically, then, THX-1138 is a dazzling film  experiment.  Even if the narrative resembles, in some way, Orwell's 1984, Lucas's visualization of this dystopia grants the material a unique aura.  This really is a one-of-a-kind sort of science fiction movie, and one that continues to have resonance today. 

For instance, we have been told explicitly by our own government to go out and shop (after 9/11).  Our government has just re-authorized the Patriot Act, which allows the government expansive powers of surveillance without judicial oversight.  And in an attempt to reduce discrimination (always a good cause...), we have often been told that men and women are exactly the same, and THX-1138 reveals the logical end point of that belief: sex differences are hidden, and made unrecognizable in public so no prejudice can exist.

Even the idea of a society wacked out on drugs isn't so far off either, since we have been called a "Prozac Nation," from time to time.  Our society's way of dealing with unruly children is also to prescribe behavior modification drugs like Ritalin.  Again, THX-1138 spells out a future where such trends continue...and overwhelm us. 

Today, there is wide ranging discussion, debate and anger about what constitutes a "Nanny State" and how much government is too much government.  That idea too, is broached in George Lucas's first feature.


"Consumption is being standardized"

Given the immediately apparent strengths of THX-1138, it is bizarre how the Director's Cut undercuts them. In the original THX-1138, the film's trod-upon hero, THX (Robert Duvall) escapes from a totalitarian society in the last act, and in the super structure of his future megapolis encounters a rat.

In the Director's cut, he encounters a CGI scorpion instead.

In the original THX-1138, THX also runs into some some strange surface dwellers while attempting to escape captivity.

Today, those raggedy men have been transformed into hairy humanoid creatures who resemble the Lycanthropes from the Underworld film series.

The film's climactic chase scene has also been touched up with digital fx work to make it appear more modern, pacey and spectacular; and there also are plenty of new "vistas" of the underground city that would not have been possible to forge in the early 1970s.  Digital people have been inserted to make the world seem more populated than before.

It's as if, for some reason, George Lucas is obsessed with one-upping Logan's Run (1976).

But here is the real problem: These special effects "upgrades"  simply make THX-1138 neither fish nor fowl. Those who would find THX-1138 a fascinating enterprise are not in it for the monsters or creatures; not in it for the chases or special effects. And those looking explicitly for such superficial qualities won't have the patience for the rest of the film anyway, which is a thoughtful meditation on freedom and love, not a fantasy cartoon set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

I unhappily write this denunciation as an ardent Lucas fan and frequent defender, and also a longtime admirer of THX-1138, as I hope you can see that from this review.  I still believe the director's freshman film is something of a masterpiece, a great dystopian film from the age of great dystopian films (Soylent Green, The Omega Man, ZPG, Zardoz, Death Race 2000, Logan's Run, etc.)

But I also submit there was no need to update THX-1138 in this fashion, and indeed, to do so violates the text of the film in some crucial way.  The new cut is re-packaged in a way that the film's Big Brother would heartily approve of; making the sublime obvious and unnecessarily removing the austerity of the piece.  Our imagination once did the heavy lifting in THX-1138, augmented by a director's powerful artistic choices; now it's just ILM flexing its imaginative chops.

Another inescapable fact: this is a vision of the future as imagined in the early 1970s. THX-1138 is a product of that time, down to every last decision Lucas made in terms of editing, wardrobe, camera movement, sound effects etc.   Why, Lucas even calls it in the special features, a "parable of the year 1971" and careful listeners may recognize President Nixon's speeches informing some of the dialogue.  That's the context, of the picture according to the director himself.

So to insert  a rich and warm golden filter over several sequences of THX on his job at the assembly line, for instance, or to expand beyond the restrictive sets for expansive digital vistas, only muddies the thematic waters. Lucas can add new special effects till he is blue in the face, and this will still be a film he made in 1971.

Why? You can't untangle a film from its creation, from its historical context, no matter how hard you try. All you're doing is re-vamping it with the latest fad. This isn't artistry. This is some kind of need to have your work perceived as "current" or "contemporary." In ten years, THX-1138 will require another special effects paint-job, if all you care about are special effects.

Or more simply put, what was so wrong with the 1971 rat?

Why is a CGI scorpion better?

All of this is four-decades-later tinkering is immensely troubling, and THX-1138 "The Director's Cut" is a textbook example of how Lucas's latter-day choices actually cloud and compromise his prodigious, natural skills as a filmmaker.

So to put the matter succinctly, I remain incredibly impressed with what Lucas imagined and delivered on a limited budget in 1971.

But the 2004 version?  It's an unnecessary revision of a great work of art. 

Somewhere, in the glittering gold spanking new special effects of THX-1138, you can almost hear a little voice -- perhaps that of Lucas himself -- urging us "Buy more now.  Buy and be happy..."

17 comments:

  1. Thanks for such an insightful piece, though it does sadden me to hear how the film's been changed. I recall watching the original film some years ago on a cheap rental whim - and being very struck with it. I think if this is the only version of the film out there at this point, I may politely decline to 'buy more now', as it were.

    One thing that this brought to mind, though, was a 1996 novella by Connie Willis entitled "Remake". It envisions a future where Hollywood no longer produces anything new, but endlessly re-edits the old, digitally inserting actors, or removing all the booze, or whatever the trend of the moment happens to be.

    It's more than a little disturbing to me, and probably feeds into a lot of the general trepidation I feel whenever something older and beloved gets eyeballed for a new coat of spackle and paint. Now I do try, if I may clumsily paraphrase you, to judge a new effort on the basis of what it's attempting rather than simply holding it up against the original to check for growth or shrinkage. It grows difficult however, the nearer said film is to my heart. (I think, for example, I'd probably foam at the mouth if I heard that someone wanted to re-imagine "Brazil").

    How did Lister put it?

    "Philistines! How can you re-make Casablanca ? The one starring Myra Dinglebat and Peter Beardsley was definitive!"

    Not exactly the same thing with THX, true. This feels more like the cinematic equivalent of the guy who obsesses over his restored classic car, and spends hours buffing, sanding, and repainting to repair the slightest piece of perceived grit on the surface.

    My point I suppose, long-winded as it is, is that the grit can sometimes make it all the more interesting.

    Thanks again for the insightful analysis both of the film, and also of the director's incessant and unnecessary spit-shining.

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  2. Wow...just another fabulous post JKM (per usual). Great comment too woodchuckgod, I'll have to check out that novella.

    I was really looking forward to reading your take on THX1138 as it remains one of my very favorite films (even to today) and wasn't disappointed. I had forgotten that THX1138 was digitally remastered...have not seen the "director's cut" nor do I think I want to after reading this. Perhaps one of THX1138's greatest strengths as a film is that sense of "modern austerity" that you alluded to...the prison without walls has haunted me for decades for instance.

    I didn't see this on its original release but saw it a few years later on television (would love to see the classic version at a cinema someday) and would have to say it was one of the films that hooked me into this genre. I also feel blessed in a way to have grown up during this era (1970's)...as weird and wonderful as it was...in that it was an era where film didn't spoon-feed its audience.

    Thanks again for ruining another one of my teaching prep periods....have a great weekend.

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  3. Wow, two fantastic comments, thank you both for writing about THX-1138.

    Woodchuckgod: I love how you described George Lucas's revisionism: "This feels more like the cinematic equivalent of the guy who obsesses over his restored classic car, and spends hours buffing, sanding, and repainting to repair the slightest piece of perceived grit on the surface."

    I couldn't agree with you more; and this is especially apt given Lucas's film American Graffiti, and the obsession there on cars.

    I think you are absolutely right though. There's this obsessive quality about the tinkering with his films, and --as you say-- "the grit" can make a movie all the more interesting. I find that true in spades of THX-1138. The last thing it needs is more spit and polish. It works better in the raw; the inventive musings of a brilliant (and angry?) young director who, despite a paucity of financial resources, makes a "parable" about consumer culture and other issues of the year 1971.

    The novella you mention is intriguing, because it does seem we are heading further and further down the path of recycling old art and entertainment instead of creating new art and entertainment.

    Just think, in a few short years we'll have all the Star Wars movies in 3-D, and then, likely, THX-1138 too. It's very, very weird, and somewhat unsettling...

    At some point, the argument that "3-D" or CGI were part of George Lucas's original vision just becomes utterly absurd. Bottom line is he's an often great filmmaker who doesn't need to recycle his work and constantly update it.

    Indianhoop: As someone who first discovered THX-1138 years ago, I think you would be shocked at the weird changes in the director's cut of the film. These cartoony touches (like the scorpion or the under dwellers) only serve to take you out of the head-space the film is working so hard to get you in.

    You understand, having commented on the prison, about how powerful the idea of a prison with no walls really is. That's an unforgettable concept (with equally unforgettable execution); and to go from that to digital monsters is just...well, let's say counterproductive.

    Thank you for your kind words about this review, and I hope you have a great weekend as well!

    All my best to you both, and thank you for such thoughtful comments on this film and the review.

    regards,
    JKM

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  4. Wow. I'm astonished to hear Lucas has gone that far. I remember this film as a great experience, which was more outstanding due to the film using it's limited resources to great effect. It's a very human story. Added cgi? I'll have to watch just to see what's been done but I can't imagine I'll be happy with the change. WOnderful review by the way, you captured it and the contradictions of Lucas wonderfully.

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  5. Hi Brent,

    Thank you for the kind words about the review. I appreciate them very much.

    I admire George Lucas quite a bit. I can even -- on some level -- make a case for changes in the Star Wars films after the fact (given that they are part of a larger, long-lasting series); in essence making sure all the threads fit together, even if visually.

    But like you, I'm kind of baffled that he would go back to THX-1138 and just willy-nilly mess with it; adding CGI scorpions and the like. There's no real reason to do it. Because of the good work done in 1

    971, the film has a timeless quality, and the CGI actually undercuts rather than augments that quality. It is very, very weird...and short-sighted on his part, especially because the original cut is not included on Blu Ray. All we have now is this 2004 director's cut, in High-Def.

    All my best,
    John

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  6. Okay my friend. Let's try this again.

    First, I love the new look. I really do. It's very authorly. It's quite fitting and it's easy to read.

    I loved your hypothesis on Lucas. You really offer a terrific articulation of that statement throughout the piece making for a truly fabulous read along with my morning Italian Roast. : )

    I find it so interesting that the idea of consumerism is reflected so intensely here. The concept is likewise showing up in Ergo Proxy, an anime that I'm watching right now.

    You wonder how original the work is given its age, because the concepts do show up in films like Logan's Run, Equilibrium, The Island and your recent Gattaca post. I only later discovered you had made the interesting parallel to Logan's Run.

    Also, I find much of this owes perhaps a great bedt to George Orwell and once again we were on the same page as I read further. His influence is profound. But in the medium of film I wonder how original THX-1138 really is. It sounds like something special despite Lucas' endless tinkering.

    My other half made an interesting point this morning about Orwell getting it almost right. I asked "what do you mean?" She said, "well, it's not so much the government watching our every move, but ourselves. We are big brother." I though she might have it right. It's interesting food for thought.

    Your affection for Lucas' work shines through and your crtique of the man's efforts to constantly update his work to not undercut your love for it. It is a valid criticism and commentary. I think you're partially right about Lucas, but there's also something obsessively compulsive about the man's need for perfectionism. He is indeed a victim of his own legacy and his embrace of technology. I doubt the same filmmaker who made these films would have thought he would become the resulting dynasty that puts the commerce before the art. This is where he is now and clearly his art suffers for it greatly.

    Anyway, i loved your last point and the irony of it all reflected in the film. Amazing observations as always.

    I loved the review and this is off the top of my head everything i wrote before it all went belly up brother! : ) Excellent stuff!

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  7. Hi SFF:

    I am sooo sorry the blog kicked your first comment, and you had to re-type it. I hate it when that happens. Big time irritating...

    But I'm glad you wrote your comment up a second time, and I enjoyed reading it.

    I'm glad you like the new template too -- I'm really digging it, and think it is a big improvement.

    And THX1138 -- I agree with you that the story is not original (even if it is powerful). It's the presentation of the story, I believe, that makes it such a special film. Some of the imagery is truly unforgettable.

    But you're right: there was something in the water in the early 1970s and we were getting all of these Orwellian riffs, from Z.P.G. to THX-1138 to Logan's Run and the like. 1984 was an idea whose time had come.

    I dig your wife's comment too. I think THX-1138 makes a weird but oddly valid point about Big Brother being "us." As technology narrows our exterior world and sense of real life community, our sense of what is going in the world (and even in our country) narrows. If you remove church, if you remove contact with your wife or husband, and if you have no family ties, you can become exclusively devoted to self. To self-gratification; to assuring that you are taken care of and safe. You know what I mean? I think this movie makes that point. Government is one thing that can fill that void, and THX-1138 is an example of both a right-wing and left-wing state gone nuts.

    I really, really admire George Lucas. I even defend the Star Wars prequels as far as I can, but I agree with you that new technology, combined with Lucas's wealth, has given him a new paint brush that he doesn't need to apply to old works. Fine to apply the brush to new works.

    Thanks for the great comment and kind words, my friend.

    All my best,
    John

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  8. Can we all get together and take Lucas' films away from him? This special edition crap is getting old. I had no idea he did this to THX.

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  9. Hi David,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I must confess, I had no idea before watching the blu-ray that Lucas had CGI-ified THX-1138.

    I guess it happened for the 2004 DVD release, and I didn't know about it. I was shocked to see all of these new effects in the blu ray, and pretty dismayed. It took me out of "the experience" of the film, if that makes sense.

    But man, the CGI effects in the blu ray already look terribly dated. It would have been better to leave well enough alone, in this case.

    I wish Lucas had an advisor he trusted calmly re-assuring him that his place in film history is secure, and that this after-the-fact toiling is only undercutting his work and his legacy.

    Best,
    JKM

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  10. I second that emotion from David. I did not know the effects had been added to the picture.

    Further, to illustrate your point in the article about Corporate Lucas.

    In the final analysis, could Blu-Ray [or whatever format arrives] ultimately deliver the ORIGINAL FILMS Unedited, Uncut, Unmodified.

    It makes sense and more money in the pocket. Hmmm... he must be thinking about it.

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  11. Hey, you know what would be great? What if THE BLONDE in American Grafitti was driving a Prius! Get to work ILM!

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  12. As usual, an excellent examination and analysis, John. The story truly is an outstanding work, one that I remember well from the theatrical cut I saw first hand, and later on VHS. It's hard to believe this is the same guy who is so strong in his early work and somewhat tone deaf with his last films (the prequels) and the revisions he continually puts forth. THX-1138 didn't need a revamp (I like it more than LOGAN'S RUN, in fact). I'll probably take a look at the BD for this. I'm not really anti-CGI at all, just its overuse (the same would apply to current 3-D onslaught studios keep heaping onto the market). One fine read, my friend. Thanks.

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  13. Hi folks,

    Sci-Fi Fanatic: I would definitel like to see the original film released on DVD/Blu-Ray, without all the 2004 additions. But then again, we'd be buying more, wouldn't we? :)

    DLR: Nooooooo! But really, your joke is a perfect metaphor for what was done to THX-1138.

    Le0pard13: I am with you on your love of the original film. I think I prefer Logan's Run only because I grew up with it, if that makes sense. I am actually not totally anti-CGI, either. I agree with you that it should not be over-used, and generally feel that it works better in sci-fi than it does in horror. I feel it is an imperfect effects technique at this point, and is sometimes over-used (The Hulk, for instance) when another technique would be better or more appropriate.

    Thank you for the great comments!

    best,
    John

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  14. Grayson2:02 AM

    I begrudgingly admit that I haven't seen THX. One thing - this discussion has really piqued my interest in seeing the documentary The People vs. George Lucas.

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  15. Hi Grayson,

    Yes. I should see The People vs. George Lucas as well. Very curious about it...

    I still love Lucas and don't even have it in for the SW prequels (and I like what I've seen of Clone Wars). I just wish he would have left THX-1138 alone.

    best,
    JKM

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  16. Anonymous5:24 PM

    I saw THX 1138 over at the Rubidoux Drive-in back when it first came out. I was impressed with its sheer austerity and the purity of its vision of the future. Of course the reviewer is correct in his assessment of a CGI THX 1138. But, I've noticed the same things happening in music. I guess it's just too much of a temptation to think "now I can make it better" syndrome. Too bad, but at least I'll always remember how I saw the movie in high school and how it ended with him climbing out onto the surface with that hot orange sun set in the back ground.

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  17. Anonymous9:51 AM

    Is the scene with the robot cops taking off their uniforms in the police locker-room just in the remastered version or in the original? It makes no sense at all (robot cops clocking off to go back to their robot families!?).

    As for the CGI add-ons, they really spoil an excellent movie.

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