THX 1138 is a boldly experimental but ultimately unsatisfying science fiction film from pre-Star Wars director George Lucas. This stark vision of the future has a variety of cool ideas but it is so inaccessible that the strength of the ideas is diminished. The bold score by Lalo Schifrin has some interesting elements, but does not quite draw us in to the story.
Set in an oppressive futuristic society, THX 1138 tells the story of three citizens, THX 1138, LUH 3417, and SEN 5241 attempting to escape from the society located beneath the surface of the Earth. The society has outlawed sex, with drugs used to control the people's minds. THX 1138 stops taking the drugs, and gets female LUH 3417 pregnant. They are both thrown in jail where they meet SEN 5241 and plan their escape to the surface of the planet. This is a stark, dystopian story that desperately needs to be made more accessible, but Lucas' uncompromising execution ignores that.
The soundtrack provides a variety of musical styles, from choral to dissonant classical to kitschy ad music to jazz pieces, which work well for individual scenes. We have a good sense of mood and atmosphere scene by scene. Moreover, sometimes reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, much of the classical work here is quite evocative and helps convey the brutal, inhumane world of the film.
While the vast array of music styles allows Schifrin to address each scene's needs very specifically, what ultimately happens is that the film's soundtrack as a whole feels incoherent. When one listens to the soundtrack in total, he or she will have no sense of the overall film. There are so many styles and moods present that the soundtrack has no unity. On top of that, given the darkness of the material, this music is not particularly entertaining, so even as individual pieces collectively are not much fun to listen to.
In conclusion, though there are some interesting individual pieces, the THX 1138 soundtrack is too disjointed and incoherent to be considered a success. Only the most diehard fan of the film would find this CD; otherwise, like the film, this CD is too inaccessible and difficult to be recommended.
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