I love that we all love the Simpsons equally and see the layers and genius therein.
True story: I’d never seen THX 1138. I know what you’re thinking: Good LORD, woman, how have you missed it? But NO, you guys, it’s not just the name (or the prefix) of George Lucas’ sound system. If you were or are a film student – you know, unlike those of us who switched to Sociology and failed to apply for the minor for which we’d already done a lot of coursework because we’ll talk about ridiculousness and regret later but right now we’re trying to talk about this film… wait, do over.
If you’re a film student or film school graduate and you’re gonna get all fussy about the fact that I just watched it for the first time, ____. Because the thing is that I loved it. Hm. That seems really irresponsible without framing so back up.
Whoops. I was three paragraphs deep before I remembered to give at least a brief synopsis of the story. Underground dystopia; THX 1138 works blah blah blah radioactive material; lives with an assigned roommate who – at first – seems to be swapping their compulsory medications to somehow poison him. It turns out she’s taking him off the sedation that keeps them from feeling anything for each other. So the chain of events isn’t horribly clear but suffice it to say they start a relationship, which is prohibited, and then he gets arrested. Then he sets off to escape. Then he does.
So George Lucas has this thing of when he returns to his older work and “revamps” it. I think I may have at some point turned off Star Wars or Return of the Jedi because I couldn’t handle it. It felt like someone was playing with a CG projector over one of my childhood favorites. (Now I’m singing “This Used To Be My Playground”…) The thing is that – and I’ll have to preface this with a reminder that I haven’t seen it “unblemished” – that was not the case for THX. Up until this EXCEEDINGLY STRANGE but really rather brief moment with some sort of subway werewolf monkeys, what was obviously the product of newer technology did nothing to distract. I immediately fell in love with it.
Despite the fact that I absolutely missed something that I later read about in a review (more later on why I was reading reviews) – which may have something to do with the fact that I feel like I wasn’t sure what to actually listen for – I was immediately impressed and pulled in. This is not solely based on the direction, maybe, though here’s something funny: I grew up not being too keen on George Lucas. Not because I didn’t grow up on a steady diet of his Harrison Ford trilogies (crediting him as having “invented” them, if not directed all), but because I guess I wasn’t too impressed with the breadth of his imagination in terms of not having seemingly obvious influences and then seeming – again, because I’ve never met the guy – to take credit for said things. Not immune either to the opinions of others, I sort of thought of him as the king of mash-ups.
So. How do I love the film that is so overtly We/A Brave New World/(less)1984. (Is there some commentary to be made by the fact that I named three dystopian tales that have rather impressive similarities themselves? Hi.) Well, despite the premise being extremely, painfully familiar – not the minutia per se but the white man’s dystopia concept – it’s…done so well. >.> I’m sorry. That’s pretty much the long and short of it. (Who says that.) Really. (No, seriously, who.) Visually, aurally, everything.
I seriously would have to watch it again because having read analyzes, I can see what I didn’t see before.
Okay, so why was I reading analyzes. Because I have to know if anyone else was thinking it. Is it just me… or was every person (that I recall) on hologram/television black. It immediately stands out because (to my recollection) there are no black people or people of color at all in the world presented…outside of the tv shows. And then I couldn’t find anyone talking about it so then I really wanted to rewatch the movie. Because it gets even better and I mean, did I overlook the fact that George Lucas is a genius in more than one sense, better. Aside from the fact that I am completely enamored with the film – and I’m not even sure that it doesn’t get away with the minimalism because of the fact that it borrows from familiar and iconic stories on which the viewer relies for a clarity not immediately presented in THX – I think this would actually blow my hair back, if intentional.
So once THX and SEN (whatever, I didn’t mention him) have escaped or started to, they come across this other guy. A black guy. Who turns out to be a hologram. Now the parameters for a hologram aren’t really discussed and the dude eats immediately and whatever, but he doesn’t feel pain so… Okay, so he’s a hologram. He used to be on tv but he wanted to know what the real world was like. So he’s joining them in this misleadingly peaceful but oppressive society. He’s innocent but not patronizingly so and just generally likeable. He doesn’t have a problem accompanying THX even when they’re clearly disobeying the rules and eventually he’s recovered by the officers and you have no idea what will happen to him because you have no idea how his world/treatment differs from the default to which you’ve been privy. O_O He’s just there for your entertainment.
Okay I won’t talk about the scene when SEN confesses that he wants to go back in and how it totally made my brain jump to the Matrix and the dude eating a steak, talking about how he wants to go back into the system. Good stuff.
So now for the reason I chose that title (as if this’ll explain it to you) – WAS THAT INTENTIONAL, GEORGE LUCAS?! Seriously? Did I just see that correctly? Tell me what to think! Will someone correct me or point me to someone who already talked about, dissected this possible racial commentary in THX 1138? Because I am really needing to know because it has just turned my brain inside out on the whole George Lucas matter. I mean, okay, he made Red Tails (and said something really inflammatory about getting a black casted movie produced – when maybe the movie just wasn’t that good and also I can name some movies with a black cast that have been produced and did well and totally not enough films but my point is, are they really out to get you, billionaire Lucas?) but honestly. Someone tell me where to find George Lucas. (Don’t say Skywalker Ranch because I already left northern California.)
I need to pick your brain about this, Mr. Lucas! YOU’RE MY ONLY HOPE!