THX 1138 (1971)

THX 1138 (1971), directed by George Lucas.

Robert Duvall is THX, a factory worker, drugged into docility. Sex is not allowed, although there is holographic porn and what looks like some sort of masturbation machine. He has a mate, LUH, and she is dissatisfied. She withdraws his medication (a felony), and with the return of desire he feels like he is dying, but they begin having sex. They are busted and sent for remediation, which involves being test subjects and eventually organ donors. Is this the end of THX?

Try as they might, the social engineers of the future cannot entirely extirpate the Old Adam. Corruption and ambition persist, but so does passion and the desire for freedom, for something better.

The sterile dystopian future, a combination of 1984 and Brave New World, has never been better shown. In a project of this type it's easy to suspect satire and social commentary, and easy to find it. I never thought I'd say it, but a few scenes actually have a stark, antiseptic beauty.

I hadn't seen this for decades and was startled by how vivid the images seemed on Blu-ray. I didn't remember the animated expressways and large interiors; I read now that this is CGI added in a famous Lucas recut. Those parts look good, but nothing like a film released in 1971. The movie was much more disturbing in my youth; I've become jaded.

I never noticed before: the toilets not only have no lids, they have no seats. I thought the deity in the confession booth was Che Guevara; it's actually a medieval image of Christ. A segment in the large white prison room goes on way too long, stalling the story.

I'm shocked to read in the wikipedia that the motorcycle crash stunt was done by a living human being.

Some passion and nudity.

Available on Blu-ray. Bless the subtitles: a lot of background dialogue is lost without them.