In his film ‘THX 1138’ (1971), George Lucas explores the escalating dystopia of technology, surveillance, drugs and androids through the lives of numerically coded citizens. In this era of the early 1970’s where computers were responding to human messages for the first time, interacting and solving problems to its owners’ commands, it is what seemed to be a utopic revelation of having utter control. However, Lucas’ prediction of technology having the equivalent amount of power reciprocated to its subjects, acting as a form of surveillance, is a prediction that is completely relevant and happening today
“Work hard, increase production, decrease accidents, and be happy.”
The story is based upon a character named, THX 1138, played by Robert Duvall, who is an ordinary factory worker in his society, controlled by demanding robotic voices, drug prescriptions, and constant surveillance, spending his days building robots and his evenings watching brashly violent and sexual films. The only assertive rules within the society of robot-building subjects were to never stop taking their medication and to never have sexual relations with one another.
As the directors of photography for ‘THX 1138’, David Meyers and Albert Kihn relay the claustrophobia of the characters’ lives through the usage of avant-garde visual filmmaking techniques. Symbolizing the authoritative rule over the citizens, who are termed by numeral codes instead of names, the characters are framed in suffocating and controlled surroundings with extreme distant settings of white dismal spaces, or shown trapped within sharply defined blocks of light and shade.