THX on Tap

Aug 22 2006

Came home last night after a busy day at work (that’s become a theme, hasn’t it? And a good thing; keeps me from being deathly bored), tossed some laundry in the machine, vacuumed my bedroom (for the first time in months), and headed outside. I dug up about two square feet of soil, added some good garden soil, and went back inside. Seems odd, but I’m experimenting with spending ten minutes a day in the garden, and I really need to improve the soil in one particular area. That’s all I could get done in ten minutes, so that’s all I did. Should be interesting to see if I continue this, or fall out of the habit.

Anyvay. I finished that, checked the fluid levels in my truck and cleaned the inside, then came back into the house and realized I couldn’t do another thing. So I plopped down on the couch and watched THX-1138, George Lucas’s first film.

I’d bought it as Suncoast last week, when they were selling it for six dollars and I had a five-dollar-off coupon. It was certainly worth a dollar.

I saw THX once before, on Bravo when I lived with my parents. I thought then that it was a visually interesting but over-long and pretentious film. Now, I dislike it less. I don’t exactly like it; it still feels over-long. But it is a stylish and involving film, once you get past the stark visuals. And it was meant to be stark, at least, so that’s not a failing of the movie.

Besides its length, and the long stretches where little happens, my only other complaint is that it was a commentary on the “hyper consumerism” of the early 70’s. And I have little patience with the concept of hyper consumerism. Most people don’t buy Tide because they saw one ad for it on TV; they buy it because they want clean clothes and it’s worked for them in the past. Now, I dislike ads and people can certainly be affected by them, and some people do buy things to feel good. But that doesn’t mean the entire culture is full of sheep who blindly follow Madison Avenue.

But THX is about more than that, which alleviates the boredom. It’s Brave New World done better than any adaptation of Brave New World I’ve ever seen. There’s a brilliantly chilling shot near the end of children riding up an elevator, their heads shaved, wearing identical clothing, chemical drips on their arms, all with innocent and questioning expressions, all heading for the same drab life.

I also watched the documentary on it, which revealed a few interesting tidbits:

  • The first film that Lucas made was a short student film called THX-1138 EB4.
  • The short film wasn’t his story. It was written by two classmates, who had abandoned the story in favor of something else. He took it and made the movie because he wanted to do something science fiction-y.
  • The short film got him all sorts of awards and recognition, and the friendship of Francis Ford Coppola, who got him the money to make the full film version.
  • They were originally going to make the feature film in Japan, and Lucas spent some time there in the early 70’s, but realized that getting approval would be a nightmare. I suspect this is where Lucas was first introduced to anime.
  • Coppola insisted that Lucas write the script for the feature film version, despite Lucas protesting that he couldn’t write a screenplay. Lucas eventually did write the first draft of the screenplay and showed the result to Coppola, who then said, “Boy, you were right; you can’t write a screenplay.” Lucas then got one of the classmates who wrote the short film to help him adapt the script. It should be noted that, of all six Star Wars films to date, Lucas had assistance writing two of them: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
  • Much of the film was re-written to take place within the locations that Lucas knew he could get approval to shoot in.
  • Lucas shot the film in seven weeks.
  • The DVD version has new footage. There’s some additional CG to fill out a few scenes, though nothing changes the story. It’s mostly revamped views from windows to show the underground city and some industrial machinery, plus a few extra shots of those incredibly cool cars when THX escapes in one.

I also watched a bit of This is Spinal Tap, which was fun, but not as much fun as I’d anticipated. I guess I’m not enough of a rock fan to find the parody that funny when I’ve already seen it a bunch of times. Or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.

Comments:

Stephen But people do buy Tide because they think its familiar and safe. Advertising is more powerful and pervasive than you give it credit for. I suggest reading ‘Corporate Planet’ by Joshua Karliner.
Anonymous It’s also the consistent winner for best detergent in Consumer Reports

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