In the future people have identification numbers instead of names. THX-1138 (Robert Duvall) is partnered with a female roommate LUH-3417 (Maggie McOmie). Sexual intercourse and reproduction are prohibited but mind-altering drugs are mandatory. The drugs ensure that people comply with all laws. Individuality is forbidden. Everyone conforms to the same appearance. All wear the same white unisexual uniform and everyone’s heads are shaved. People are assigned their specific jobs. Everything in their lives is sterile and monitored.
THX’s roommate LUH has feelings for him and substitutes his medication so that he is no longer properly sedated. Now that he has feelings he develops a sexual desire for LUH. They have unauthorized sex. LUH becomes pregnant. At work THX’s condition is discovered. He is arrested for improper sex and for not having drugs in his system. THX and LUH undergo drug therapy.
In the meantime SEN-5241 (Donald Pleasence) has used his status to make an unauthorized roommate change. He wants to have THX as his roommate. THX files a complaint against SEN for the illegal roommate change. THX and SEN both end up in prison. THX and SEN escape but get separated. THX teams up with someone who says he is hologram SRT (Don Pedro Colley). SEN tries to avoid the chrome police robots while THX, with SRT in tow, tries to find what happened to LUH.
“THX 1138” was released in 1971 and was directed by George Lucas. The film was based on a short done by Lucas called “Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB” while he was at the University of Southern California’s film school. The movie is extremely surreal and symbolic. It can be a little difficult to follow at times but the overall feeling of the movie and of the future is bleak and emotionless. It is a sobering view of what could happen to mankind.
Lucas named the film after his San Francisco telephone number, 849-1138, the letters THX correspond to letters found on the buttons 8, 4, and 9.
The sounds of the police motorcycles are the sped-up sounds of women screaming together in a tiled bathroom. Many of the electronic sound effects heard throughout the film are derived from telephone dial tones, pitch-shifted, and electronically modified.
Some of SEN's dialogue is taken from speeches by Richard Nixon.
Some interesting locations were used for the film. The factory where THX works was actually a functioning radiation containment chamber, also known as a "hot cell", used by people that handle radioactive materials like isotopes. The labyrinth type chase scene between THX and the robot cops was shot in a telephone exchange. The rows of electronic equipment are telephone switches. The underground car chase was shot in a segment of the Caldecott Tunnel in Oakland, Ca.
In the beginning before the movie begins Lucas included the trailer to "Tragedy on Saturn, Chapter Two of Buck Rogers", a 1939 Saturday morning serial. It appears he attempted to draw an ironic contrast between the swashbuckling Rogers and the title character in his gloomy science fiction movie. According to Lucas each was "just an ordinary, normal human being who keeps his wits about him." It is also an homage to the kinds of science fiction stories he loved growing up.