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Before Star Wars, before Indiana Jones—even before American Grafitti—there was THX 1138 (1971), the first film directed by George Lucas. Based on a student short made by Lucas and Walter Murch, THX 1138 is a 1984/Brave New World-type of story of a dehumanized worker (Robert Duvall) who breaks free from the shackles of his totalitarian society. The flipside of Star Wars' carefree adventure, THX 1138 was a downbeat experience little seen at the time, but its reputation has grown due to its famous creator and its copious merits: innovative editing and graphic design, fascinating sound montage (by Murch), and a mesmerizing look-and-feel.
Lalo Schifrin's score for THX 1138 is as far from John Williams's symphonic sweep for Star Wars as one can get, but Lucas's first musical collaborator proved to be no less imaginative than his most-used one. Schifrin provided an eclectic blend of styles, from Baroque-influenced choral work for the main titles, to liturgical cues, to brooding strings for the oppressive society, to the use of Bach's St. Matthew's Passion for the end credits. There are strange, avant garde sounds for the film's memorable creations—buzzing organ for the white-on-white prison and menacing percussion for the robot policemen—an evocative love theme for alto flute and harp, and multiple source cues meant to sound like "drugged-out" Muzak.
FSM's premiere release of the THX 1138 soundtrack is a fascinating musical journey of Schifrin's score and source music, ranging from avant garde soundscapes to cheeky plays on his Latin jazz of the '60s. The CD includes passages not heard in the finished film and is entirely in stereo, remixed from the original Warner Bros. elements. Liner notes by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall include a history of the film's production and Schifrin's comments.