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THX 1138

THX 1138 was George Lucas' first full length movie. It was made in 1970 as a remake of an earlier student work (THX 1138:4EB[?], 1967). The movie is set in an underground dystopia, and shares themes with 1984 and Brave New World. It essentially consists of three acts.

In the first act, we are introduced to daily life in the dystopia by following around the central character, THX 1138 (Robert Duvall), a nuclear-production-line worker who stops taking his (soma-like) drugs. As the effects wear off, his repressed senses of sexuality and freedom become evident. He is subsequently convicted of a "sex-crime", a sexual relationship with LUH 3417, played by Maggie McOmie.

The second act sees THX incarcerated for his crimes in a white limbo world along with a collection of other prisoners, including Donald Pleasence as SEN 5241. The outlook and content of this section of the film is somewhat reminicent of the works of Samuel Beckett. Most of the prisoners seem disinterested in escape, but eventually THX and some others decide to walk through the limbo and eventually find an exit. Upon their escape THX attempts to find LUH, learning she has been considered incurable, and killed.

The third act is a Logan's Run[?] style escape (predating Logan's Run), featuring an often copied (futuristic-)car-chase sequence through a tunnel network. THX is chased by robot police and eventually locates a man-hole cover which leads out into the sun-light. As the robot policeman is about to catch up with THX the budget for his capture reaches an end and the robot retreats leaving THX to climb out into the harsh surface sunlight.

The number 1138 is a recurrent easter egg in subsequent George Lucas films (eg. it is the number of the cell block in Star Wars), and the number-plate of Paul Le Mat's deuce coupe in American Graffiti is THX 138.

The cinematic sound systems company THX Ltd. is owned by Lucasfilm, and is named after this film.

THX officially stands for "Tomlinson Holman's eXperiment". Tomlinson Holman developed the THX sound system, having been commissioned to do so by Lucas in 1982. This derivation of the THX abbreviation would therefore appear to be a backronym.

According to an interview of George Lucas on the DVD "Short 10 Chaos" The "X" in the sound system name THX stands for "Crossover," a piece of audio processing equipment. In either case, it is not named for THX 1138. In this same interview Lucas states that it is just a coincidence.

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