Before the world-conquering Star Wars made him a popcorn movie mega-mogul, George Lucas crafted a modest, somber vision of the future with THX 1138. In place of lightsabers, Death Stars and furry 7-foot tall animals, Lucas’ filmmaking debut takes place in an Orwellian world in which people are identified by letter and number designations, spied on at all times by the state, and forced to conform via institutionalized pill-popping. In this environment of emotionless obedience, a robot engineer – Robert Duvall’s titular THX 1138 – is awakened from his drug-induced catatonia and taught how to love by his female “roommate” LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie). Since such behavior is strictly prohibited by the omniscient powers-that-be, LUH 3417 (who’s with child) is taken away, setting THX – with the help of Donald Pleasence’s off-kilter prisoner SEN 5241 – on a mission to rescue her and, if possible, escape the industrial complex he calls home. As with much of ‘70s-era sci-fi, the unremarkable story’s primary focus is the individual’s attempt to break free from society’s uncompromising, stultifying constraints (read: sedatives and consumerism), and Lucas’ stark, sterile all-white production design (reminiscent of Kubrick’s uncanny use of negative white space) does lend the film a claustrophobic menace. Unfortunately, while I can respect Lucas’ spartan mise-en-scène and disdain for sentimentality, THX 1138’s depiction of a dystopian future populated by bald automatons is – unlike his pretension-free Star Wars trilogy – leaden and tiresome.