***/**** Image A Sound A+ Extras B
starring Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence, Don Pedro Colley, Maggie McOmie
screenplay by George Lucas and Walter Murch
directed by George Lucas
by Walter Chaw THX 1138 is the only film George Lucas ever wrote and directed that will and should be remembered as a mostly artistic triumph rather than a largely financial one (recalling that the best of his Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back, was neither written nor directed by Lucas). The fact that he's now tampered with it in much the same manner as he's tampered with his original Star Wars trilogy seems, then, an almost bigger crime against posterity, even if it makes a kind of ironic sense within the thematic framework of the film. THX 1138's preoccupations with dehumanization, an abhorrence of imperfection and humanity in favour of machine-tooled precision, and the corruption of human perception and emotions with mass-produced opiates find sympathy with this new stage of its own existence as a film that hasn't been just restored, but enhanced, too, by CGI that serves the same basic function for the audience as the drugged milk does for the protagonists of A Clockwork Orange. When Lucas made THX 1138, he was the prole toiling (stealing from Aldous Huxley and N.I. Kostomorov is toil, yes?) in obscurity; when he retooled the thing and went to Telluride with a streaming digital feed of it thirty-three years later, he completed his transformation into the faceless machine-priest of the film, sanctifying his zombified acolytes as good pods and ladling upon them the questionable bounty of blessings by the state.