THX 1138: The George Lucas Director's Cut [2 Discs] [Special Edition] [DVD]

  • SKU: 6745329
  • Release Date: 09/14/2004
  • Rating: PG
George Lucas' rarely seen, experimental, bald-headed first journey into the world of science fiction, THX 1138 finally arrives on DVD in the form a digitally enhanced two-disc "George Lucas Director's Cut." Just as he has done with every release of his Star Wars series, Lucas has tweaked his film with a new edit and several new digital special effects. The film's bleak, claustrophobic cityscapes have been transformed into vast, sprawling, claustrophobic cityscapes that slightly resemble the cloud city of Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. Other additions include a bizarre, yet exciting new moment in the film's final jet-car sequence, and an odd moment where THX (Robert Duvall) is attacked by digital monkey-like "shell dwellers." As no original version of the film is made available on this edition, this new version may upset long-time fans, yet anyone familiar with the quirks of George Lucas should be used to "special editions" of his films. The DVD manages to capture the sterile, white look of the film brilliantly with outstanding clarity and picture quality. It is difficult to believe the footage shot in the late '60s is not brand new. THX 1138 has been given a gorgeous letterboxed transfer to disc one in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Rounding out the disc are the film's special features which include a thought-provoking and in- depth commentary track by Lucas and the film's co-screenwriter, editor, and sound designer Walter Murch. Murch returns once again on the disc for a series of branching video segments accessible throughout the film where he explains the methods he used for creating the complex sounds used in the film. The film's absorbing soundtrack has been mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and can be listened to in an isolated audio track of just score and sound effects. Alternate dubbed tracks and subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish. The second disc is a treasure chest of wonderful material not only for fans of the film but for any fan of the filmmaking process. Starting out the disc is a fascinating hour-long documentary, A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope. Directed by Gary Leva and narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, the documentary shows how young film school grads Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas worked to form a late- '60s artistic alternative to the Hollywood system only to have that same system nearly destroy their dreams. Next on the disc is an equally amazing documentary titled "Artifact From the Future: The Making of THX 1138," which goes into detail on the making of the film from concept to script to head-shaving to filming, as well as its eventual box-office failure. Along the way we hear from some of the film's many fans, such as Frank Darbount and Steven Spielberg, on how the film has influenced and affected their careers. A vintage making-of documentary titled "Bald" also sheds more light on the film's head-shaving antics and features a wonderful, priceless moment where a very young Francis Coppola interviews an even younger George Lucas long before the two of them took over the film world with The Godfather and Star Wars films. Also included is a holy grail for George Lucas fans, his original film-school version of THX 1138, titled Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB. Dark, grainy, and unsettling, the short gives a clear hint of what was to come in Lucas' career. Rounding out disc two is an original trailer and five trailers for the film's 2004 rerelease. The obvious care in the overall presentation of THX 1138 on DVD adds up to an outstanding release for an influential and stunning science-fiction film classic.
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100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (3 out of 3)

Special Features

  • Digitally restored and remastered
  • Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Commentary by co-writer/director George Lucas and co-writer/sound designer Walter Murch
  • "Theatre of Noise Experience": Isolated music and sound effects track with master sessions, branching video segments showcasing Murch's pioneering work
  • Languages: English, Français & Español
  • Two new documentaries: "A Legacy of filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope" and "Artifact from the Future: The Making of THX 1138"
  • Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB, Lucas's original student film
  • Vintage production featurette "Bald"
  • Original and rerelease trailers
  • Closed Captioned


THX 1138:4EB
The short student film that served as the springboard for George Lucas' first feature, THX 1138:4EB is a spare, stark examination of a future dystopia in which one man fights to maintain his identity under the watchful eye of an Orwellian state. Starring Dan Natchsheim in the role that would later be played by Robert Duvall, the dialogue-free film involves the various modes of surveillance levied on the titular lead character, and his numerous attempts at escape. ~ Michael Hastings, Rovi

THX 1138
Based on his award-winning student short, George Lucas's debut feature cerebrally celebrates the possibility for individual freedom against all odds. In a 1984-esque white-washed future underground dystopia where sexuality is banned, all humans sport shaved heads and the same shapeless outfits as they go about their work in a mandated state of sedation, listening to exhortations to "Buy and Be Happy." Black-clad robot cops chant a mantra to their victims that "everything will be all right" and automated confessional booths emit soothing therapeutic bromides. But unbeknownst to THX 1138 (Robert Duvall), his roommate LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie) has been reducing their meds, resulting in their mutual discovery of love and THX's subsequent imprisonment for drug evasion and sexual misconduct. Determined to find the pregnant LUH, THX breaks out of prison with the help of his cellmate SEN 5241 (Donald Pleasence) and an escaped TV hologram (Don Pedro Colley). With fugitive pursuits strictly budgeted, THX only has to evade the robocops until the funds run out, but surveillance is omnipresent and THX's vehicle keeps overheating. Making the only film produced through the first incarnation of Francis Ford Coppola's independent studio American Zoetrope, Lucas and his small crew, including co-writer and sound editor Walter Murch, shot THX 1138 in northern California with no interference from distributor Warner Bros. When Warners saw the austere result, however, they recut the film before its release. Neither the studio's nor Lucas's cut was a popular success, but THX 1138's coolly minimalist style and story-telling gained fans on the college screening circuit, just as Stanley Kubrick's poetic 2001: A Space Odyssey had attracted a large youth audience in 1968. When Lucas returned to sci-fi after American Graffiti, he traded restraint for nostalgic fun in the film that guaranteed his creative freedom in Hollywood: Star Wars. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

The Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of Zoetrope

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Overall customer rating

would recommend to a friend
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    intriguing sci-fi


    George Lucas's directorial debut, based on his short film of the same name, is a fascinating Orwell-esque look at the future and how consumerism basically consumes everyone, which eventually prompts the title character (Robert Duvall, just before his star-making work in The Godfather) to rebel against the law after he falls in love with his roommate (Maggie McOmie). Donald Pleasance and Don Pedro Colley are also good as his mysterious confederates. The aforementioned student film is included in the bonus disc along with great documentaries about the making of the film and its production company American Zoetrope. Not surprisingly, this film, a flop upon its initial release, gained more attention following Lucas's mind-blowing success with Star Wars.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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    • My Best Buy® MemberMember

    Would recommend only if one is a diehard fan of George Lucas’ work.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


    • My Best Buy® Elite Plus MemberElite Plus Member

    Way ahead of its time in small words. Just a brilliant display of vision..

    I would recommend this to a friend

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