THE WIZARD OF FORCE:
the twilit rise and fall
of George Lucas
by Gary W. Wright
For Renee Chen, Myca Le and Vic Morrow
All things are different though nothin’ has changed
from ‘Hollywood Hills’
lyrics by Paul Kamanski
performed by the Beat Farmers
from their allegorical recording,
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINES (1987)
He was suddenly sure all this was illusion, that the man in black had spun a spell and was trying to tell him something in a maddeningly obtuse, symbolic way.
from The Dark Tower I: the gunslinger (1982)
by Screamin’ Stephen King (p.19)
Online information can come from official and sanctioned websites supervised by the studios or from unofficial sites run by fans. Fan webmasters and their collaborators are willing to pour astonishing amounts of their own time and money into sites that publicize the products of big Hollywood studios-even in the face of secrecy or downright opposition from the studios themselves…(for) fans may provide extensive publicity, but they can also ferret out secrets and post them in cyberspace.
from The Frodo Franchise:
THE LORD OF THE RINGS and modern Hollywood (2007)
by Kristin Thomson (pp.133-4)
But if you share something with people, they teach you to keep your eyes open, and when your eyes open, you can see a lot of things, visible and invisible.
from ‘On a Morality of Filming: a conversation
between Rithy Panh and Deirdre Boyle’
p. 43 of issue 97, 2016 of cineaction
You ask me why I’m weary, why I can’t speak to you
You blame me for my silence
Say it’s time I changed and grew
But the war’s still going on dear
And there’s no end that I know
And I can’t say if we’re ever…
I can’t say if we’re ever going to be free
from ‘Veteran of the Psychic Wars’
lyrics by Eric Bloom and Michael Moorcock
performed by Blue Oyster Cult
from the allegorical Gerald Potterton film,
HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE (1981)
Thanks to Mrs. Featherstone and Mrs. Olsen and the other helpful, encouraging and indomitable staff of George Mackie Library in Delta, BC; Ms. Bonner, the Teacher Librarian at Hellings Elementary school; the equally indomitable and long suffering Mr. Murphy, Librarian extraordinaire at the one-time Delview Junior Secondary School in Delta, BC; my fellow Library Technicians in the Secondary Schools of the Peel District School Board; and to Maestro Gregory Dettweiler. Thanks also to the equally longer suffering and sympathetic staff of the Huron Heights Secondary School and North Delta Secondary School Libraries, and of the Guildford, Ocean Park and White Rock branches of the Fraser Valley Regional Library system; the Kwantlen College, University of British Columbia and Vancouver Community College libraries; the Streetsville branch of the Mississauga Public Library; and the Brighton Public Library.
Thanks as well to the owners, managers and staff of such bookstores as North Delta New and Used Books, Black Bond Books, the Book Bin/Bookaneer, Coles, White Dwarf Books, Granville Mall Book Company, Macleod’s, the Haunted Bookstore, Munro’s, Jane Ross Books, Read and Green Books, J & B Books, Professor Bookies and Chapters for their help and support over the years. Thanks also to the owners, managers and staff of the Mac’s and 7-11 at 84th and 112th and the Silver Moon in ND, Golden Age Collectibles in New Westminster and the Comic Wizard in Newmarket, ON in the Seventies and Eighties, and of Image Collections in Streetsville, ON in the new millenium, for their Superheroic inspiration. In addition, thanks to the Steel Eye for all of those games of Galaxian and Galaga in ND in the Seventies, and to Bay Street Video and Refried Beats in Toronto, and Starstruck Entertainment at Square One for all of the great CDs and DVDs over the years in the new millenium.
Last but not least, thanks to the cinemas at Guildford, Lougheed and New Westminster malls in the Seventies and Eighties and to the Studio and Vogue theatres, and special thanks to the Stanley Theatre, my favourite cinema in the Greater Vancouver area when I was growing up, and to the Suzuki Theatre, my other favourite cinema, where I suddenly realized one babysitting night in 1981 while watching the allegorical Richard Rush film THE STUNTMAN (1980) that films were as allegorical as all other art. Special thanks also to Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, Carrie Fisher, Frank Herbert, Stanley Kubrick, Richard Matheson, Ralph McQuarrie and Al Williamson, gone but not forgotten.
Thanks also to Miss Tyson, Visual Arts teacher, and my high school English teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Hillman, Commander ‘Buck’ Parsons, and Mr. Alexander at Delview Secondary School; Mr. Macdonald at Huron Heights Secondary School in Newmarket, Ontario; and Mr. Miley and my English 12 Creative Writing teacher whose name I have unfortunately forgotten at North Delta Secondary School. You watched over, nurtured, criticized and praised my ‘writing’ and taught me the secrets of the allegory, turning me into the shrewd, knowing, quasi-literate and righteously ranting Gardevil-and always crazy Canuck-that I am today.
Last but not least, thanks also to the Canadian Constitution of 1982, the moody and Muse inspiring Moon and God for giving me strength, courage, guidance and insight.
As a boy in Kindergarten, I had a sudden intuitive flash that the tale of King Midas, the fairy tale my teacher was reading the class one day, was telling us that there was more to life than money. Sure enough, the teacher soon confirmed that extra meaning hidden within the tale soon after she finished reading it aloud. This confirmation of my intuitive flash had me looking for the true meaning of fairy and folk tales for years after, eager to figure them out. Initially, I thought that only fairy and folk tales had a hidden meaning. Imagine my surprised interest when Mrs. Hillman, my second high school English teacher, pointed out in my second semester of high school in 1981 that most written works-whether short stories, novellas, novels, poems and plays-had a hidden meaning put there by the author, that the hidden meaning was called an allegory and that it could be determined by deciphering the allusions, metaphors, signs and symbols in the work of literary art. This was quite an overwhelming and life changing revelation for me, and I immediately began to try to decipher and understand the hidden meaning of everything I read from that point on, and still do. A year later, while watching the allegorical and Ozian themed Richard Rush docufeature film, THE STUNTMAN (1980), on videocassette, I was startled to see and hear the implicitly Great Oz linked director Eli Cross and the implicitly Tin Man linked screenwriter, Sam Baum-played by Peter O’Toole and Allen Garfield, respectively-argue about the allegorical point of DEVIL’S SQUADRON, the film within the film, while screening dailies. Suddenly realizing that films and screenplays were just as allegorical as fairy tales, folk tales, novels, novellas, poems, plays and short stories, I began to do my best to puzzle out the meaning of all of the films I was watching, too.
Taking a closer look at film, I soon came to the conclusion that a war had erupted between film art for art’s sake artists like David Cronenberg and David Lynch and film art for money’s sake artists like Steven Spielberg. An implicit allegorical film war that left George Lucas and his highly successful STAR WARS films stuck somewhere in the middle, as Lucas implicitly blasted Spielberg and his insidious desire to break free from the more pure film artists of New Hollywood and create a blockbuster lusting Empire with a highly creative and innovative film trilogy that nonetheless had all sorts of blockbuster attributes and effects and was also a blockbuster hit at the box office. This implicit battle between film artists and film merchants became certain after the fatal helicopter crash that killed Renee Chen, Myca Le and Vic Morrow around 2:20 am in the morning of July 23, 1982 on the John Landis set of the allegorical Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller film, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983). For the horrific and deadly TZ disaster confirmed the worst fears of the film artists that the film merchants and the studios that backed them had become so obsessed with money that they no longer cared how many people they killed in order to feed their insatiable lust for blockbuster profits. Thus, the film artists rose up in righteous fury like avenging cinematic angels and roasted the main figures responsible for the TZ disaster and the rise of a new age of blockbuster film like Landis, Spielberg-the director who had organized TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE-George Folsey jr.-the producer of the Landis episode of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE-and Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, the lovers who produced TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE in a massive and allegorical Zone War on the big and small screens and in print.
As Lucas made the fateful decision to reach out and help his friends Kennedy, Marshall and Spielberg after the TZ disaster and had them work on films with him, film artists and audiences also turned their outraged and righteous fury on him. This book looks at the life, times and allegorical film and telefilm art of Lucas and does its best to decipher that film and telefilm art in order to better understand his film art before the TZ disaster, his role in the dread allegorical Zone Wars, and his response to the fury directed at him after 1982. Far from being an unusual way to approach the film art of Lucas or other film artists, studying and deciphering their underlying allegorical nature is really the only way to truly understand film art. For Lucas has said since 1977 that Han Solo symbolized Francis Coppola and Luke Skywalker himself, implying that their victory over the Evil Empire in the Classic Trilogy symbolized and meant something definite. Of course, if the Classic Trilogy meant something, the Indy Trilogy and the Tragic Trilogy must also mean something, as well as all of the other allegorical film art Lucas directed or produced before, in between and after his three major allegorical film trilogies. As David Cronenberg, Stephen King, David Lynch and Steven Spielberg have also insisted that THE BROOD (1979), Misery (1990), MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001) and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), are also allegories, the implication is also that all of their work before and after these creations are allegorical, as well. Since Cronenberg, King, Lucas, Lynch and Spielberg have had such an enormous impact on the world of fiction and film art since the Seventies, the implication is that the films and novels that other artists must be allegorical, as well. Indeed, they must be, given that Cronenberg, King, Lucas, Lynch and Spielberg reply to the other fiction and film artists in their work. This book attempts to advance the study of cineotics and semiotics by working out the true meaning of fiction and film in order to achieve a greater understanding of both warfare in allegorical art and the art of allegorical war.
No other New Hollywood film artist was more synonymous with Ozian themed film art than George Lucas. Indeed, Ozian linked characters and healing Ozian storylines played a prominent part in his allegorical and computer generated imagery (CGI) enhanced films from THX 1138 (1971) to STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005). However, in spite of this healing Ozian structure, the film art of Lucas prior to 1982 also showed implicitly ominous ‘memory of the future’ forebodings of the fatal UH-1B ‘Huey’ helicopter crash that killed actor/director/writer Vic Morrow and child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le at 2:20 am in the morning of July 23, 1982 on the Vietnam War village set of the John David Landis episode of the twilit and allegorical, Landis and Steven Allan Spielberg produced, Kathleen Kennedy associate produced and Frank Wilton Marshall executive produced and Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller film, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983). Not surprisingly, as he was just as shattered by the TZ disaster as most film artists and audiences at the time, the post-1982 films of Lucas also implicitly confirmed that he was meditating glumly on the TZ disaster. These sombre twilit meditations were fused uneasily with the healing Ozian structure of his films, a structure inspired by the allegorical and implicitly Wicked Wallace Simpson bashing Victor Fleming film, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939).
George Walton ‘Georgie’ Lucas jr. was born on May 14, 1944-fittingly, a day before the May 15th birthday of L. Frank Baum, author of the allegorical and Wicked Queen Victoria bashing children of all ages classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). His birth gave George and the fittingly named Dorothy Lucas a third child and only big eared son in a brood of three daughters. The modest future film artist fittingly grew up in a small town called Modesto, located several hours southeast of San Francisco. Back then it was a quiet place with little to do, home to several walnut farms and the Gallo winery. The lonely nature of life in Modesto was enhanced by the Lucas family life, for Mrs. Lucas was often ill and bedridden and the stern and uncompromisingly religious and Republican Mr. Lucas was usually away working long hours as owner/manager of the local stationery store. This left Lucas to his own devices, usually in the company of his younger sister, Wendy.
The quiet boy became an introverted young fellow, devoted to comic books and fantastic shows on television like Adventure Theatre’s Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, and no doubt healing feature films like THE WIZARD OF OZ-where it became a huge hit with boomer audiences on its appearance in the mid-Fifites-and to feature films at the local cinema. He also developed an interest in drawing, modelmaking, photography and, as he got older, cars. Cars led Lucas away from good marks at Thomas Downey High School and to stock car racing. Cars also led Lucas to a pivotal and life changing car accident shortly before the end of his final year of high school in the spring of 1962. On his way home from studying at the local library for his final exams, Lucas forgot to check his rear view mirror while turning left into his parent’s driveway and hit his friend Frank Ferreira as Ferreira passed Lucas in his Chevy Impala. The impact of the collision rolled his souped up Fiat Bianchina racer end over end and wrapped the car around a nearby walnut tree. Luckily, Lucas was thrown from the car to injured safety when his regulation steel plated stock car racing seat belt miraculously snapped, against all odds. Fittingly given his interest in Ozian themed film, this Great Crash of 1962 was his own Kansas gale that threw Lucas grievously injured from his car and out of his underachieving teenage dreamworld forever.
Indeed, the sudden and unexpected crash left him in the local hospital’s emergency room fighting for his life in an inner Ozian spiritworld midway between life and death like that experienced by the injured Dorothy Gale-played by Judy Garland-in THE WIZARD OF OZ. When he finally and successfully emerged from his spiritworld journey after weeks of recuperation in hospital, this sobering and unanticipated brush with mortality left him determined to do something with the gift of life that had been returned to him. Indeed, Lucas surprised everyone-particularly himself!-by turning his back on his stock car speed racer dreams and heading to a local community college on the strength of the High School Diploma given him by a sympathetic Thomas Downey High School while he was still recuperating in the hospital. Two years of majoring in Social Sciences at Modesto Junior College led Lucas to the University of Southern California film school program. Here Lucas showcased his drawing and photography skills in a number of short films, particularly his award winning and eerily twilit allegorical docufeature film, ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH THX 1138 4EB (1967).
Significantly, the final USC short film was an eerily twilit film, as it was noticeable that the desperate and ultimately successful escape of Class 4 Erosbod THX 1138-played by Don Natchsheim-from the endless sterile, soulless and fluorescent lit hallways of a futuristic society was linked throughout the short film to the July 23, 1982 date of the TZ disaster via dates, time and numbers like 05/14/2187, 2:43:38 and level 7932. These ominous numerical links implied that Lucas was already subconsciously trying to use an allegorical cinematic memory of the future to escape from the TZ disaster. It was also noticeable that the successfully escaping THX 1138 resembled and was implicitly linked to Stanley Kubrick, implying that Lucas was also using the short film to celebrate Kubrick’s escape from the confines of mainstream Hollywood film art with his MADcap allegorical docufeature film, DR. STRANGELOVE, OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964). Indeed, the desperate attempt by the underground establishment of ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH THX 1138 4EB to track and stop the fleeing THX 1138 constantly evoked the desperate attempt of the American and Russian establishments to stop the wayward American bomber from dropping its nuclear payload in an open nod to DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB, affirming the implicit intent of the short film.
Or was Lucas sending an allegorical message to Kubrick that he should break his film art free from the underground world that he consigned humanity to at the end of DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB? At any rate, Kubrick implicitly noticed this implicit message from young Lucas. For the sterile futuristic sets, fluorescent lighting, costumes and computer graphics of ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH THX 1138 4EB returned on a bigger and more expensive scale in the futuristic sets, lighting, costumes, and computer graphics in the spaceship cockpits and the hallways and rooms of the implicitly Tin Man linked spinning space station and the implicitly Cowardly Lion linked Mission to Jupiter segments of the allegorical and Ozian themed Kubrick docufeature artbuster, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968).
Indeed, one of the opening images of the film was of a sunrise over a desolate African landscape that recalled a closing image of a sunrise at the end of ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH THX 1138 4EB, immediately and implicitly confirming that Kubrick was allegorically addressing the award winning student film of Lucas in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. This link also implied that the opening, Earth and implicitly Scarecrow linked Dawn of Man segment symbolized the dawn of a new era of artbuster film art, as the speechless early humans and the silent Sentinel monolith that they discovered reminded us that the age of film art began with the silent era. Curiously, the bone weapon thrown into the sky by Daniel Richter’s Moonwatcher-a weapon as powerful as a pencil, pen, paintbrush, camera, film camera or even just the scissors necessary to cut film and splice them in the rapid montage of cuts that accompanied Moonwatcher’s discovery of the power of his bone weapon-that merged into an orbiting weapons satellite linked the two parts of the opening segment together. This link implied that they were two halves of one segment and that the wondrous world of the future and its spinning satellite community was still quite primitive in the estimation of Kubrick and legendary sly fi co-writer, Arthur C. Clarke. A hi-tech and silvery-grey world that was implicitly linked to Old Hollywood as well as the Tin Man, as the name of William Sylvester’s resigned moon explorer, Dr. Heywood Floyd, looked and sounded like ‘Hollywood Old’-that is to say, Old Hollywood. Indeed, the vidphone call that Floyd had with Kubrick’s young daughter, Vivian-playing Floyd’s daughter, affectionately nicknamed Squirt-openly linked Floyd to Kubrick, confirming his link to Old Hollywood.
Significantly, the vidphone call also linked the satellite segment to the talkie era of film, and to Lucas. For soon after Floyd stepped into the vidphone booth, an astronaut extra strolled by the camera who looked like the twin brother of Lucas at the time. This Lucas lookalike changed the tone of the following Mission to Jupiter segment on board the Discovery I, implying that this thoughtful, television screen filled and artsy segment-with its orange spacesuits to confirm its link to the Cowardly Lion-symbolized not just the thoughtful and mise-en-scene art cinema that dominated the film world after the Second World War and the television screens the big screen competed with, but the young American film artists like Lucas who had taken up the cause of thoughtful art cinema. Indeed, Keir Dullea’s Captain David Bowman and Gary Lockwood’s Frank Poole evoked Francis Coppola and Lucas, a dynamic duo Kubrick would have been aware of by 1967 as a result of interviews with them concerning their early film art. A mostly cheaper and twilit black and white art film era that competed with the increasingly colour Hollywood film art era, an allegorical colour film art era on graphic display in the final Jupiter and Beyond segment of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY after Floyd and his scientific colleagues explored the monolith found in Tycho crater on the moon.
Before climaxing this voyage to Jupiter, Commander Bowman had to defeat the Douglas Rain voiced Heuristic 9000 (HAL 9000) onboard computer, which implicitly symbolized the blockbuster machinations of Hallywood, in a literal David versus Goliath battle that saw a fully formed humanity triumph over the blockbuster machine. A segment linked to the Great Oz, implicitly affirmed by the sight of Captain Bowman drifting away from the Discovery I in a tiny pod that evoked the sight of Henry Morgan’s Great Oz drifting away in a hot air balloon at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Only to be caught up in a rocketing and psychedelic tornado of a hyperspace journey across the cosmos, a psychedelic cosmic journey set off by the final Sentinel monolith, like the rest as rectangular in shape as the door to the Twilight Zone unlocked by the key to the imagination at the beginning of every original episode of the TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series. A cosmic journey that transformed and evolved and returned Bowman home to Earth like a Starchild Dorothy to inspire a new era of artbuster film that would combine thoughtful art film with blockbuster budgets, sets, costume and effects to lure audiences away from their infernal television sets and back to the Temple Theatres to the year 2001-and beyond.
Curiously, ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH THX 1138 4EB did not only inspire Kubrick and eerily anticipate the TZ disaster. The successful escape of THX 1138 also broke him free from a mate named YYO 7117-played by Joy Carmichael, curiously anticipating the Great Divorce of George and Marcia Lucas nee Griffin in 1983, who met and married during this USC period, in another memory of the future. Soon another significant player in the life and film art of Lucas appeared during a post-USC internship at Warner Brothers, for it was here that Lucas met Coppola. Significantly, Coppola had attracted the attention of Warners with his allegorical film, YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW (1966)-inspired by the allegorical David Benedictus novel, You’re A Big Boy Now (1963)-a film which had exuberantly and implicitly roasted Canada for its then recent, shocking and better late than never arrival on the world film scene with its own bilingual anthems, its own flag and its own Anglophone feature film, the allegorical Don Owen film, NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE (1964).
Indeed, the appearance of Peter Kastner as the bored, restless, puckish and Pierre Trudeau evoking bachelor, Bernard Chanticleer, affirmed the link, for Kastner had played the equally bored, restless, puckish and Pierre Trudeau evoking Peter in NOBODY WAVED GOODBYE. The appearance of Geraldine Page and Rip Torn as Bernard’s stuffy, suffocating and implicitly Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip evoking parents, Margery and I.H. ‘Curator of Incunabula’ Chanticleer, reaffirmed the film’s implicit Canada roasting intent. The appearance of Karen Black as Bernard’s despairing and Margaret Atwood evoking girlfriend, Amy Partlett, Elizabeth Hartman as his heartbreaking fantasy love Barbara Darling-who implicitly symbolized the frustrations and heartbreaks awaiting aspiring Canadian feature film artists-Tony Bill as Bernard’s worldly and Leonard Cohen evoking friend, Raef Del Grado, and Dolph Sweet as the Raymond Burr evoking NYPD officer Francis Graf also reaffirmed the implicit Canada and Trudeau roasting intent of YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW.
Significantly, Steve Nichols implicitly urged Coppola to avoid being seduced away from his seminal New Hollywood film art by attractive offers from Old Hollywood like the young and Bernard Chanticleer evoking and implicitly linked Benjamin Braddock-played by Dustin Hoffman-avoided being led away from beautiful young Elaine Robinson-played by Katharine Ross-by her mother, the cynically duplicitous and adulterous Mrs. Robinson-played by Anne Bancroft-in the allegorical film, THE GRADUATE (1967). A prescient warning, for after seeing YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW,
Warner Brothers soon contacted Coppola and persuaded him to create the equally exuberant, high spirited, hopeful and optimistic allegorical musical, FINIAN’S RAINBOW (1968). And it was here on the set, hard at work on FINIAN’S RAINBOW, that Lucas met Coppola on a fateful day.
It was a fitting time and place for the two budding, idealistic and rebellious film artists to meet, as FINIAN’S RAINBOW implicitly saw young and idealistic New Hollywood triumph over crass and cynical Old Hollywood in the symbolic form of the triumph of a small but exuberant, peaceful and harmonious community of young black and white men and women in mythical Rainbow Valley over the old and gold obsessed establishment ‘white men’ who tried to nip their crazy dreams in the bud and control their lives-particularly Keenan Wynn’s tragicomically greedy and Jack Warner evoking Senator ‘Billboard’ Rawkins, who summed up his stiffed neck intransigence with the cynical cry of ‘…forward, to yesterday’. And forward to disaster, as by meeting on the set of a film overseen by Warner Brothers, Coppola and Lucas were ominously linked to the studio that would oversee and release TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE right from the beginning.
Thus, Coppola made his Old Hollywood toppling intentions implicitly clear in FINIAN’S RAINBOW, just as he also made clear to Lucas that he was eager for equally exuberant and talented young recruits like Lucas to join him in New Hollywood in his Old Hollywood thrashing crusade. Indeed, Coppola was impressed enough with Lucas and his sour outlook on life and film art that he not only promptly dubbed him the Stinky Kid, but soon convinced the Stinky Kid to become co-head of their own San Francisco based independent film production company-American Zoetrope-and work with him on American Zoetrope’s first film, the allegorical indie, THE RAIN PEOPLE (1969)-this despite Coppola being a gregarious and extroverted Oscar personality to the finicky and introverted Felix of Lucas. Not surprisingly, THE RAIN PEOPLE was a pensive and worried piece, kind of a more wary and apprehensive fusion of YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW and the allegorical Alfred Hitchcock film, PSYCHO (1961), that implicitly likened the apprehensive determination of Coppola and Lucas to break free from Old Hollywood and go it alone as American Zoetrope to the equally apprehensive determination of Shirley Knight’s Natalie Ravenna-noticeably resembling, but less confident than, Page’s hypnotizing Barbara Darling in YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW-to break free from her stifling marriage and family and drive west across the U.S. to find herself.
Along the way, the Coppola surname cadenced Ravenna picked up young and brain damaged ex-college football star, Kilgannon-played by James Caan-whose fragile and damaged state perhaps summed up that of Coppola at the time due to dismissive reviews for FINIAN’S RAINBOW. Significantly, while struggling to protect Ravenna from an assault by the older motorcycle cop, Gordon-played by Robert Duvall-Kilgannon was shot dead by Gordon’s daughter, Rosalie-played by Marya Zimmet-in the end. It was a bleak ending that was in complete contrast to the more hopeful and upbeat endings of FINIAN’S RAINBOW and YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW, implying the fear of Coppola and Lucas, the ex-university film school stars, that American Zoetrope might not be able to save film art from Old Hollywood. Significantly, the brawl between Gordon and Kilgannon also anticipated the increasing acrimony between the older Coppola and the younger Lucas over the direction of American Zoetrope that would lead the two to part ways in 1973. Ominously, THE RAIN PEOPLE also brought Coppola and Lucas closer to a collision with the Twilight Zone. For Duvall played lonely Charley Parkes in the allegorical Walter E. Grauman telefilm, ‘Miniature’ (1963), in the fourth season of the original TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series.
Curiously, the San Francisco location of American Zoetrope was doubly fitting, for on top of having the same syllable cadence as Rainbow Valley in FINIAN’S RAINBOW, San Fran had been the site of the first triumph of the love and exuberance of a young, hopeful, daring and racially integrated New Hollywood-symbolized by the triumph of the mixed race couple of John Prentice and Joanna Drayton, ably played by Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton, respectively-over their older and Old Hollywood linked parents, Matt and Christina Drayton and Mr. and Mrs. Prentice-played by Old Hollywood legends Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn to make the allegory clear, and Roy E. Glenn sr. and Beah Richards, respectively-in the allegorical Stanley Kramer film, GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967). Significantly, it was quite possible that GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER was inspired by interviews Coppola and Lucas gave in 1967. For the cinematic Odd Couple of Lucas and Coppola and the implicit allusions to them in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY did not go unnoticed, with George Roy Hill quickly helming a film devoted to the subject.
Indeed, Frank Coppola and the Stinky Kid were implicitly linked to Butch Cassidy and the Sunshine Kid-played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, respectively-throughout his allegorical film, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNSHINE KID (1969). As Cassidy and the Kid were gunned down by the Bolivian army at the end of the film, Hill was clearly warning Coppola and Lucas to be careful and not get too out of control and obsessed with fame and fortune, lest their dreams to succeed as young and independent San Francisco film artists be also shot down by audiences, critics and the studios. The fact that Cassidy and the Kid embarked at San Francisco for their fateful voyage to Bolivia made that implication clear. Curiously, the choice of Redford to play the Kid brought him closer to his lengthy sojourn in the Twilight Zone. For Redford played the personification of Death in the allegorical Lamont Johnson directed episode ‘Nothing in the Dark’ (1962) from the third season of the original TWILIGHT ZONE television series. Significantly, this was the first but not the last of the links of many of the main players of New Hollywood and the Zone Wars to the original TWILIGHT ZONE series, as many got their first big break working on the storied series.
The tragicomic attempt of the small town Texas boy, Joe Buck-played by Jon Voigt-to make it in New York City with his newfound pickpocket/pimp friend, Rizzo-played by Dustin Hoffman-in John Schlesinger’s allegorical film, MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969), also evoked the attempt of the small town Lucas to make it in San Francisco at American Zoetrope with his newfound New York City friend, Coppola. Indeed, one of the failed attempts by the two ‘entrepreneurs’ to hustle up some money at the Hotel Berkeley linked Buck and Rizzo to the Bay area in an implicit affirmation of the allegorical intent of the film. It was also possible that Captain American and Billy the Kid-played by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, respectively-also symbolized Frank Coppola and the Stinky Kid in the allegorical Hopper film, EASY RIDER (1969), that same year. For the presence of Karen Black as Karen linked the film to YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW via her character Amy Partlett in that film. The implication that EASY RIDER was an allegorical meditation on Coppola and Lucas was increased by the presence of Jack Nicholson in the film as George Hanson, for he linked all three main male characters to film artists, as Nicholson had-like Coppola-already directed a low budget quickie for Roger Corman, the allegorical film, THE TERROR (1963). At any rate, Hopper definitely brought New Hollywood closer to a fateful rendezvous with the Twilight Zone, for he had appeared as the troubled and Hitler haunted youth Peter Vollmer in the allegorical Stuart Rosenberg season four episode, ‘He’s Alive’ (1963), of the original TWILIGHT ZONE series.
Significantly, while implicitly replying to Arthur Penn and his allegorical and implicitly Kubrick addressing film, BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967), Sydney Pollack implicitly summed up the battle between Old and New Hollywood all too knowingly in his allegorical and Ozian themed film, THEY KILL HORSES, DON’T THEY? (1969). For Pollack implicitly predicted that Penn and his film art would fail to go the distance like the implicitly Penn and Scarecrow linked Robert Siverton and the implicitly Dorothy linked Gloria Beatty-played by Michael Sarrazin and Jane Fonda, respectively-failed to go the distance and win a Dirty Thirties dance-to-you-drop marathon over the course of the film. In fact, given that Siverton shot and killed Beatty, in the end, Pollack implied that Penn might destroy himself and his film art in his attempt to usher in a New Hollywood. Significantly, the film also correctly predicted that far from being sweeped away by New Hollywood, Old Hollywood would shrewdly and cynically use the earnest competition of New Hollywood film artists to draw in audiences so as to still be standing when New Hollywood rose and fell like the older and JFK and LBJ evoking organizers of the ‘dance of destiny’ marathon used the earnest competition between the poor and desperate young dancers to draw in audiences to watch the dancers slowly wear themselves out and collapse over the course of the marathon. Thus, it was presciently fitting that couple number 78 was the first to collapse, given that New Hollywood begin to collapse and fade in the late Seventies, allowing a financially and spiritually rejuvenated Old Hollywood to reassert its control.
Given the resemblance of Pete and Joey-played by Doug McGrath and Paul Bradley, respectively-to Coppola and Lucas in Don Shebib’s allegorical film, GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD (1970), the implication was that Shebib was also roasting Coppola-his old UCLA film school classmate-and Lucas in his first feature film, and warning them that if they were not careful they would crash and burn in Hollywood as fast as Pete and Joey crashed and burned in Toronto. Indeed, GOIN’ DOWN THE ROAD was shot in the same neonlit docufeature style of YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW, implicitly affirming the allegorical intent of Shebib. Allusions to YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW also implied that Bernardo Bertolucci was roasting Coppola and Lucas in the form of Italian fascist secret agent Marcello Clerici and the Lucas resembling homosexual, Pasqualino ‘Lino’ Semirama-played by Jean Louis Trintignant and Pierre Clementi, respectively-in his allegorical film, IL CONFORMISTA/THE CONFORMIST (1970).
And in the decision of Clerici to marry the vacuous middle class girl, Giulia-played by Stefania Sandrelli-and join the fascist establishment of Mussolini’s Italy, Bertolucci also implied that he felt that Coppola’s decision to marry into middle class Anglo-American respectability by marrying Eleanor Neil rather than a saucy Italian actress and make tepid films like FINIAN’S RAINBOW for Hollywood rather than more bold and creative indie film art branded Coppola as much as a conformist sell out as Clerici. A spineless conformist sell out whose willingness to make films like FINIAN’S RAINBOW might lead him to preside over the death rather than the birth of a brave new world of film art, like Clerici presided over the murders of the beautiful and beguiling blonde, Anna, and her anti-fascist Italian husband, Professor Luca Quadri-played by Domonique Sanda and Enzo Tarascio, respectively-in the ambush at the end of the film that evoked the ambush that killed violent Dirty Thirties outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker-implicitly linked to Kubrick and his film art, and played by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, respectively-at the end of the allegorical and implicitly Kubrick roasting Arthur Penn film, BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967).
Given that the allegorical David Lean film, RYAN’S DAUGHTER (1970), was implicitly set in a Hollywood linked Irish town that evoked the implicitly Hollywood linked Rainbow Valley in FINIAN’S RAINBOW, the implication was that Lean also addressed Coppola and Lucas in RYAN’S DAUGHTER in the implicit form of Barry Foster’s young Irish revolutionary leader, Tim O’Leary, and his second in command, Paddy-played by Philip O’Flynn. Significantly and presciently, the tragicomic and failed attempt of O’Leary and Paddy to lead a group of eager and frustrated young men to a triumph over the occupying English Imperial forces in Ireland after the Great War anticipated Coppola’s equally doomed attempt to lead Lucas and the other eager and frustrated young men of American Zoetrope and the rest of New Hollywood to triumph over Old Hollywood. As the boys also failed to topple pub owner Thomas Ryan and his attractive young daughter, Rose-played by Leo McKern and Sarah Miles, respectively-who were implicitly linked to Kubrick and the blonde, L.A. haze and implicitly Hollywood linked teen, Dolores ‘Lolita’ Haze-played by Sue Lyons-of the allegorical and implicitly Alfred Hitchcock roasting Kubrick film, LOLITA (1962), throughout the film, Lean also implied his conviction that Kubrick and his film art would triumph over the film art and film artists of New Hollywood in RYAN’S DAUGHTER.
Clearly, the American Zoetrope Odd Couple were making an impression. Unfortunately for Lucas, however, Coppola did not start off his film artist career with YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW, FINIAN’S RAINBOW and THE RAIN PEOPLE. Instead, he started off his film career writing and directing an allegorical low budget black and white horror film for Corman’s New World Pictures called DEMENTIA 13 (1963). Significantly, Coppola implied that the film began as an allegorical nod of support to Hitchcock and Kubrick that urged the two original, idiosyncratic and independent film artists to put aside their differences and support each other in their commitment to true film art triumphing over commercial film art and over the even more commercial and banal television. For the film saw Ethne Dunn’s imposing, matronly and Hitchcock and Hollywood evoking Lady Haloran unite with her eldest child and son, the Kubrick evoking Richard-played by William Campbell-in a triumph over her obsessive and psychotic younger son, Billy-played by Bart Patton-and the murderous and gold digging blonde, Louise-played by Luana Anders-a duplicitous blonde who clearly evoked the Dark and blockbuster profit lusting side of Hollywood, at creepy Castle Haloran in Ireland.
Indeed, a likely interpretation of the film, given that DEMENTIA 13 alluded to LOLITA-creepy Castle Haloran evoked the castle home of Quilty that opened and closed LOLITA-and to PSYCHO. And that Kubrick had also implicitly roasted Hitchcock and himself in the implicit form of the tragicomically doomed duo of James Mason’s Humbert Humbert and Peter Sellers’ Clare Quilty throughout LOLITA, and worried that both were as in danger of being swept aside by a younger generation as obsessed with comic books, junk food, MAD magazines, rock and roll and television and as uninterested in serious film art as Lolita. Indeed, Humbert was as stuffy and as feverishly obsessed with young blondes as Hitchcock, while Quilty resembled Kubrick, implicitly affirming the allegorical intent of LOLITA.
However, if Kubrick understood Coppola’s allegorical message, he certainly ignored it. For he roasted Hitchcock again in the form of Peter Bull’s openly Hitchcock evoking Russian ambassador, Alexej de Sadesky, and himself in the form of Sellers’ RAF Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, in his next allegorical film, DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB, his gleefully demented roast of blockbuster film and the Cold War American military philosophy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), a gleeful roast that evoked the equally gleeful film roasts in an equally MAD magazine. Indeed, the fact that Lolita had already ran off in the end with a young fellow named Richard P. Schuler-played by Gary Cockrell-who looked like MAD spokesperson Alfred E. Neuman affirmed that Kubrick already had MAD themes on his mind when he directed DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB-as well as implied that Kubrick thought that the popular MAD magazine would influence the style of young film artists.
The presence of aging Western singer Slim Pickens as the cowboy hat wearing Major ‘King’ Kong-a character who evoked the aging and cowboy hat wearing Western director, John Ford-also implied that the film was meditating as much on the obsessions of the major film studios and film artists with releasing blockbuster hits that would appeal to rebellious young audiences, as it was with the possibility an indie bomber inadvertently releasing a blockbuster payload that would set off a nuclear war. Coppola implied a return of the snub, for he used Wynn-who played the John Huston linked Colonel ‘Bat’ Guano-as Rawkins in FINIAN’S RAINBOW, linking Rawkins to Kubrick. However, unbeknownst to Coppola, DEMENTIA 13 was also one of the most eerily and ominously prescient feature films to appear before the TZ disaster. Indeed, while some pre-TZ disaster feature films had scenes or characters that seemed like ominous and premonitory memories of the future TZ disaster and the raging Zone Wars that the disaster would set off, DEMENTIA 13 was one long, non-stop, and twilit memory of the future TZ disaster.
For the film saw the young, dapper and clean cut Billy Haloran slowly and finally revealed in the end through flashbacks to have never confessed to having accidentally drowned his younger sister, Kathleen-her name anticipating Kathleen Kennedy, and played by Barbara Dowling, her name anticipating Elizabeth Hartman’s beautiful, beguiling and unobtainable symbol of art Barbara Darling in YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW in a way that implied that Kathleen symbolized art, as well. Kathleen was accidentally drowned in a pond behind the family’s Old Hollywood linked creepy Castle Haloran in Ireland-a creepy castle later evoked by the equally grey stone walls and labyrinthine halls of the Central Branch of the New York Public Library in YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW-when Billy was a boy. This death of Kathleen anticipated that child extras Chen and Le would also die in water-the water of the Santa Clara River in Indian Dunes Park just outside Los Angeles-in the TZ disaster. Indeed, as with the deaths of Chen and Le, which haunted film artists and some audience members forever, the death of Kathleen haunted and destroyed the Hollywood linked Haloran clan. This link between Kathleen and Chen, Kennedy and Le was increased by the fact that, like Psycho Billy, Landis would affect a clean cut and well dressed appearance after the TZ disaster, in an effort to persuade people into believing that he was not Psycho Johnny.
The fact that three other characters would die over the course of the film-older brother John Haloran, his name anticipating John Landis and played by Peter Read; the evil, gold digging and murderous L.A. linked blonde, Louise; and Karl Schanzer’s decapitated poacher Simon, his decapitation all too accurately anticipating the decapitation of Morrow-creating a twilit trio of two male and one female victims as in the TZ disaster, added to the eerie and ominous feature length memory of the future quality of DEMENTIA 13. The fact that the film was shot in the same ‘twilight for twilight’ black and white film as LOLITA and PSYCHO was also eerily fitting, as it all too fittingly placed the film in the Twilight Zone between colour and darkness-a link increased by the TWILIGHT ZONE-like Main Theme by Ronald Stein. The only hopeful aspect of the ominous and eerily prescient film was that it also saw the good young side of the Haloran clan-led by the redoubtable and Woody Mahony anticipating Richard Haloran-defeat its Psycho Billy side, in the end, leaving out hope that New Hollywood would also finally defeat its Psycho Johnny Dark Side, bring harmony back to Castle Hollywood, and end the dread allegorical Zone Wars in the end.
Significantly, Richard Haloran did this with the help of the older and blunt Dr. Justin Caleb-played by Patrick Magee, an actor who looked eerily like American fantastic fiction author Philip K. Dick, who would die in early March of 1982 and whose literary art became an important piece of the Zone War puzzle. This reminded us that Finian inadvertently helped Mahony triumph at the Ireland linked end of FINIAN’S RAINBOW, implying that Coppola was hoping that he could succeed as a film artist with the help of an older mentor-perhaps his composer father, Carmine, who did in fact show up in the credits for THE RAIN PEOPLE as a Music Associate-as early as 1963. Thus, it was a very unknowingly significant, ominous and twilit decision indeed for Lucas to team up with Coppola as co-head of American Zoetrope, and, on the strength of Coppola’s success, persuade Warner Brothers to sign a five picture deal with them, a deal that started with the Coppola executive produced and implicitly Kubrick and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY addressing first allegorical and CGI enhanced docufeature film, THX 1138 (Maxford 12-22, Pollock xiii-xvii and 1-106 and Baxter 1-46).
‘We need a creative dissent.’
Indeed, the desperate and determined escape of THX 1138-played by Duvall-from an underground society and its constant electronic surveillance, enforced drug addiction and shaven heads, lookalike clothing, mindless consumerism, robotic work and robocops, sexual abstinence and worship of a bearded and Kubrick resembling and implicitly linked deity named OMMRICK-voiced by James Wheaton-with the help of the lovely LUH 3417-played by Maggie McOmie-was implicitly linked by Lucas to an equally desperate and determined escape from drug addicted and mindless everyday society and the worship of Kubrick throughout the film. The clean, shiny, soulless and fluorescent lit hallways of the underground society affirmed that implication, as they evoked the equally clean, shiny and soulless hallways of the spinning space station in Earth orbit and the Discovery I seen in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.
The tragicomic aid THX 1138 received from the creepy and Hitchcock evoking SEN 5241-who worked with LUH 3417 in the underworld’s 247 electronic surveillance centre, and was played by Donald Pleasence-reaffirmed the film’s implicit intent, reminding us that Kubrick was fond of roasting Hitchcock in his film art. In addition, the sight of THX 1138 succeeding in his quest to escape the underground and standing free at last in the dying light of a setting sun, in the end, also implied that Lucas wanted to free himself from his underground student film art daze and take advantage of the setting of the Old Hollywood era to succeed as an independent and idiosyncratic mainstream film artist with an innovative and creative docufeature style that fused mise-en-scene with montage to create mise-en-montage in the New Hollywood era.
Significantly, the clean, shiny sweet, innocent and exuberant black and white BUCK ROGERS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY trailer that unexpectedly kicked off THX 1138 implicitly affirmed the film’s interest in Kubrick. For not only did the Buck Rogers trailer present a vision of the future that resembled the wondrous world of the future of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, the trailer would have been seen in theatres by Kubrick as a kid in the Thirties. The ironic contrast between the incredible world of the future of Buster Crabbe’s handsome and healthy Buck and the bleak, diseased and drugged up underworld dystopia of THX 1138 that followed was also obvious and enormous, making it implicitly clear how much Lucas disliked 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and how eager he was to sarcastically and satirically roast the film and Kubrick in THX 1138. Indeed, the unusual retro Warner Brothers logo that preceded the film evoked the unusual retro MGM logo that preceded 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY implicitly reaffirmed that Kubrick and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY were the satirical target of Lucas in THX 1138.
Significantly, the film began with sickly green opening credits that drifted quickly and inexorably downwards into the abyss, sinking green credits which not only established the sinking and despondent mood of the film, but also evoked the first sinking credits at the beginning of the allegorical Jean-Luc Godard film, ALPHAVILLE (1965), whose absurdist humour, docufeature style, surrealism and soulless and labyrinthine hallways of rebuilt futuristic buildings of post-war Paris implicitly influenced the equally absurdist humour, docufeature style, surrealism and soulless and labyrinthine hallways of the buildings of post-war San Francisco in THX 1138. Significantly, THX 1138 also contained the first implicit hints that the healing and centring Force of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz and THE WIZARD OF OZ would feature prominently in the film art of Lucas.
For these sinking green credits not only immediately established a low and despondent mood, they also evoked the sickly green skin of the Wicked Witch of the West. These sinking credits also reminded us that after Judy Garland’s Dorothy Gale was knocked out by flying debris at the beginning of THE WIZARD OF OZ, her farmhouse, Toto and herself were symbolically carried up and away by the tornado and down into the inner healing Ozian dreamworld. The descent brought the viewer down with her and Toto, down into the healing dreamworld like these inexorably descending credits, in an innovative visual variation on the falling house of Dorothy. How fitting that an Associate Producer named Ed Folger was listed in these sinking opening credits, for his name evoked that of Scarecrow actor Ray Bolger in THE WIZARD OF OZ.
This implicit interest in the healing spirit of THE WIZARD OF OZ was reaffirmed shortly after the film began when some co-workers of THX 1138 were killed in the explosion in Red Section L-14 while he was on his first robotic shift assembling robocops, deaths which evoked the underground workers who were also injured or killed at the beginning of the allegorical Fritz Lang film, METROPOLIS (1927). For on his way home from this dreary first shift, THX 1138 received a ruby red polygon that reminded us of the ruby red high heels Dorothy received after the death of the Wicked Witch of the East, implicitly linking the deaths of the workers to the death of the Wicked Witch of the East and opening the gates of the healing spiritworld dream. This also implied that the ruby red polygon was the film’s physically, psychologically and even sexually invigorating power object. Ironically, however, the drugged up THX 1138 took the red polygon home after another robotic shift at work, and unwittingly allowed it to be sucked up a vacuum trash chute back at his apartment.
This banished the ruby red power object, preventing THX 1138 from using its emboldening power to aid his liberation. While humourous, this incident was also the first reference to garbage and garbage chutes in the film art of Lucas. Indeed, garbage and garbage chutes would be a popular and recurring theme in his movies, climaxing in the liberating toss of the insidiously Evil Emperor-played by Ian McDiarmid-down the garbage chute at the end of the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and implicitly Spielberg bashing Lucas executive produced Richard Marquand film, STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983). After unknowingly getting rid of this ruby red power object, THX 1138 then returned to his apartment and his lovely shaven headed roommate, LUH 3417.
LUH 3417 was a mysterious female character, for the viewer never found out if she was THX 1138’s cousin, girlfriend, sister, or wife. Girlfriend seemed likely, for LUH 3417 soon introduced the listless and doped up Adam to the forbidden knowledge of love and sexuality like a bald Eve. Indeed, to increase THX 1138’s libido, LUH 3417 changed his supper medication, substituting a virile ruby red pill for a blue pill that apparently had laid THX 1138 low with a bad case of the listless and impotent blues. This red pill substitution evoked the ruby red slippers of the Wicked Witch of the East again and the ruby red polygon. The pill substitution also evoked Glinda and the help she provided the heroes throughout their healing Ozian journey, linking LUH 3417 to Glinda rather than Dorothy. The pill change also occurred while THX 1138 was watching naked male and female Afro-American dancers-played by Mello Alexandria and Barbara J. Artis, respectively-gyrate erotically to primal rhythms on holocast television. These two dancers introduced Afro-American virility into the film art of Lucas for the first time, an important infusion that prepared us for the arrival of an Afro-American Cowardly Lion later in THX 1138 and for more Afro-American mojo in all of the later film art of Lucas.
Significantly, the aphrodisiac infusion combined well with the pill substitution, increasing THX 1138’s virility like Dorothy’s ruby red high heels and negating the earlier loss of the ruby red polygon. Indeed, the two combined to free THX 1138’s mind and awaken his virility and his love for lovely LUH, leading to illegal sex between the two roommates, sex that exoked the illegal sex of Winston Smith and Julia in the allegorical George Orwell novel, Nineteen Eighty-four (1949), and perhaps also symbolized the sexual solace George and Marcia found in each other’s arms. However, this love scene was strange, intensifying the mystery surrounding the staus of LUH 3417. For the shaven heads of the two lovers made the scene curiously androgynous and hard to tell if THX 1138 and LUH 3417 were of the same sex, were of the opposite sex, or were twin Jedi siblings. However, despite this ambiguous sexual awakening, THX 1138 left behind the mind control of the priests of OMMRICK and his impotent and roboman state and moved into a more aware, assertive, fully human and sexually potent stage. This effectively transformed him from an old, frozen and impotent Tin Man into a virile young Scarecrow, despite later attempts by the subterranean state to refreeze him with mind blocks and electro staffs.
This transformation was important, for it was the first time that an intellectual, physical, psychological and spiritual transformation from one Ozian elemental character to another occurred in the same character in a Lucas film. Indeed, this transformation became the idiosyncratic hallmark of the early film art of Lucas, and the major innovation Lucas brought to the static characters of THE WIZARD OF OZ. In fact, this transformation anticipated the virile transformations of psychologically frozen Tin Men Luke and Anakin Skywalker, and the carbon frozen Han Solo-played by Mark Hamill, Sebastian Shaw and Harrison Ford, respectively-in STAR WAR EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. Little wonder that Keanu Reeves’ similarly frozen and impotent young X gang member Thomas A. Anderson preferred the ruby red pill over the TZ disaster blues pill when offered up both at his first meeting with Laurence Fishburne’s mysterious and Great Oz linked Morpheus in twilit, CGI enhanced and allegorical Wachowski Sisters film, THE MATRIX (1999)-clearly, Anderson had seen THX 1138 and knew the transformative power of the ruby red pill, turning THE MATRIX into THE MATRHX.
With his ruby red virility regained, his emotional heart fired up, his inquiring mind reawakened and his spirit eager for flight, THX 1138 suddenly realized that he was not living in the pristine Emerald City but in an underworld similar to Sogo, the drugged out subterranean labyrinth beneath the Black Castle of the Wicked Tyrant of the West-played by Anita Pallenberg-on planet 16 of the Tau Ceti system in the allegorical Roger Vadim film, BARBARELLA (1968), implying that Lucas was satirizing his drug obsessed and underground counter-cultural generation in darker but still absurdist fashion on one level in THX 1138 like Vadim had done in BARBARELLA. Indeed, for the crimes of drug evasion, monogamous sexuality and breaking free from the control of OMMRICK, THX 1138 and LUH 3417 were soon solemnly branded enemies of the state at a mock trial that underlined that the film’s subterranean future state actually symbolized the youthful, drug obsessed and free loving underground of the counter-cultural rebels of the Sixties, a mock trial that ironically reversed the absurd grilling Charlton Heston’s bearded and New Hollywood evoking Taylor received from the clean shaven and Old Hollywood evoking orangutans of the allegorical Franklin J. Schaffner film, PLANET OF THE APES (1968).
After being found guilty, the tall robocops-their black uniforms with silver faces making them look like kind of a cross between Darth Vader-played by David Prowse and the Imperial Stormtroopers (most commonly referred to as Imps) of the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy as well as the Black Guards of the Wicked Tyrant and the Castle Soldiers of THE WIZARD OF OZ-took THX 1138 away for reprogramming and conditioning in detention. These robot officers initially carried white batons on hip loops. Later these batons were exchanged for long black humming electro-shock staffs-early lightsabers that recalled the samurai swords of the films of Akira Kurosawa and that linked well with the lonely and haunting notes of a Japanese-like flute that were heard intermittently in the soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin, an organic flute that contrasted hopefully with the inorganic, sterile and hi-tech environment of THX 1138-that were used by an eerily twilit trio of robocops to stun THX 1138 into submission for reprogramming.
Significantly, prior to reprogramming, THX 1138 was probed by impersonal machines in a way that anticipated the robotic medical treatment Luke Skywalker received on Hoth after escaping the blockbuster wampa beast in the allegorical, CGI enhanced, implicitly Spielberg bashing and Lucas executive produced Irvin Kershner film, STAR WARS EPISODE V:THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), and the later and machine aided dark transformation of Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader at the end of the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and implicitly Spielberg and James Cameron bashing Lucas film, STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH. This impersonal medical machine attention reminded us of the thorough medical treatment Lucas received after his near fatal car accident in 1962. In fact, this link to the real life hospital treatment of Lucas was underlined when THX 1138 was taken afterwards to the detention area, a surreal and ghostly white sensory deprived lunar landscape. For with its eerie and surreal whiteness and its white smocked inmates debating the cosmic order, the detention area evoked a hospital lounge full of quietly recuperating and commiserating patients. This hospital lounge quality was underlined by the fact that THX 1138 realized here how much he wanted to live and be with LUH 3417 and do something more with his life than be a roboman. For this realization reminded us of the teenaged Lucas, and how he decided to leave stock car racing behind and do something more with his life after recovering in hospital from his near fatal car crash.
In addition, the lunar detention area also suggested a student lounge full of commiserating film students at USC. Significantly, one of its members, a bearded dwarf called a shell dweller-played by Mark Lawhead-resembled Kubrick enough to make it clear that Lucas thought he was not a major film artist but a tiny little fellow lost in sentimental reveries of his Buck Rogers loving childhood in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The little fellow also looked like and anticipated a mysterious and lupine DJ in an allegorical and more exuberantly Ozian themed Lucas film to come. This lunar Twilight Zone also anticipated the post-apocalyptic, Cold War desert wastes of Tatooine and the equally white lunar snowscape of Hoth in the STAR WARS films. And, while ominous, this lunar area was also a positive omen for THX 1138, for it reminded us that the Wicked Witch of the West melted like the Winter snow at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ, leading to the whole and harmonious Springing escape of Dorothy from Oz and back to health in harmony in Kansas.
In this detention area THX 1138 renewed his acquaintance with SEN 5241-which was somehow appropriate, given that Pleasence’s character Parsons joined Edmond O’Brien’s Winston Smith in a similar detention/reprogramming area in the allegorical Michael Anderson film, “1984” (1956). Significantly, SEN 5241 was a sentient and crazed character who was part grandiose Great Oz-played by Frank Morgan-in THE WIZARD OF OZ and part ludicrously sinister Vader. In Vader mode, he tried to convince THX 1138 to join him on a break for freedom where they could form a New Republic-style ‘…new alignment’, recalling Coppola’s success in persuading Lucas to join him in San Francisco at American Zoetrope, and anticipating Vader’s efforts to persuade Luke to join him at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.
Curiously, SEN 5241 had revealed an insen plot to have his onanistic roommate ONA replaced with THX 1138 earlier in the film, in a scene where an extra had said ‘…twenty-three hunter portapads’ in an ominously twilit memory of the future. This strange revelation suggested that SEN 5241 was eager to leave onanism behind and begin a sexual relationship with THX 1138. This raised the spectre of homosexuality for the first time in a Lucas film, anticipating the dire and implicitly sodomistic threats of Darth Vader and the Emperor to turn Leia and Luke Skywalker-played by Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, respectively-to the Dark Side in the Classic Trilogy. In fact, a sexual assault by an older male on a sleeping younger male in the detention area openly underlined that dark and diseased sexual forces were at work in the films of Lucas starting with THX 1138.
Significantly, the ruby red virility of THX 1138 was rebooted by an unexpected encounter he had with LUH 3417 in the detention area. At this meeting LUH 3417 quickly revealed that she was pregnant, and then the two eerily similar lovers made forbidden love again. Afterwards, and while still wrapped in each other’s arms, robocops surprised the two lovers and led them both away to their separate fates. This dreamy encounter with LUH 3417 led to the electro-staff reprogramming for THX 1138 by the twilit trio of robocops, and finally to his escape with SEN 5241 and their attempted rescue of LUH 3417 from the Wicked OMMRICK. They fled into the white emptiness, anticipating Luke Skywalker’s flight from the beastly blockbuster wampa’s cave in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. However, the surreal and directionless lunar landscape did not change no matter how far they walked, neither receding nor advancing. This was the ultimate impotent moment in this impotent underworld dream, as disorienting and frustrating for viewer as escaper-an eerie experience straight out of the Twilight Zone.
After some time, a mysterious figure slowly emerged in front of SEN 5241 and THX 1138, anticipating the emergence of the figure of Han Solo on tauntaun in front of the frozen figure of Luke in the equally surreal and lunar white snowscape of Hoth in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. This unusual figure was a huge Afro-American man named SRT-played by Don Pedro Colley-who recalled the Afro-American holo-television dancers who had earlier injected THX 1138 with their Afro mojo. SRT was an odd, virile and jocular character, sort of a cross between the Cowardly Lion-played by Bert Lahr-in THE WIZARD OF OZ and Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca who anticipated the arrival of Billy Dee Williams’ Lando Calrissian in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Ahmed Best’s Jar Jar Binks and Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu in the twilit, allegorical and Spielberg roasting film, STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE-and the arrival of Morpheus in the Matrix Trilogy. And like Lando rescuing Luke at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, SRT casually and jovially led SEN 5241 and THX 1138 to freedom and safety.
Thus, another Ozian conjunction of sorts occurred at last in THX 1138, as the Airy and garrulous Great SEN, the Earthy and virile THX-Crow, and the Fiery and imposing Cowardly SRT united to escape the lunar void and complete the healing quest by rescuing LUH 3417 and saving her and the film art of Lucas from Wicked OMMRICKs, Old Hollywood, labyrinthine underworlds, and banal television in classic Ozian fashion like the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man-played by Jack Haley-saved Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ. The heroic threesome also evoked all of the other great heroic threesomes in the history of fantastic literature-from Bounding Elk, Great Serpent and Hawkeye tracking the lost Munro sisters and their Mingo captors in the allegorical James F. Cooper novel, The Last Of The Mohicans (1826) and Aramis, Athos and Porthos coming to the aid of D’Artagnan in the allegorical Alexandre Dumas reply to Cooper, The Three Musketeers (1844), to Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas tracking Merry and Pippin and their Orc captors the allegorical Tolkien novel, The Two Towers (1954). And the Cowardly SRT led the way like a dreamworld frontier scout, pointing to a door behind the Great SEN and the THX-Crow that was in the whiteout wall of this surreal and lunar womb. The door led to rebirth from the white womb into the maddening and crushing castle inmate crowds in the corridors of the subterranean labyrinth.
Tragicomically, the Great SEN was quickly carried away by the relentless press and flow of the anonymous shaven headed inmate throngs of the underground labyrinth in the first narrative split in the films of Lucas. A fitting sight, reminding us that the Great Oz drifted away in his phallic hot air balloon before Dorothy and Toto could ride with him in his basket at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ. To add to his tragicomic plight, the Great SEN soon got into trouble while lost on his solo odyssey. In fact, the Great SEN attacked a blue and black robed holo-tv priest of OMMRICK from behind when this priest tried to contact the robocops after catching him in OMMRICK’s holocast television studio. The wild and grandiose SEN 5241 then knocked out or even killed the priest by throwing him to the ground from behind.
Significantly, this knockout not only anticipated a similar knockout of a pesky and inquiring Nazi by Ford’s Doctor Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones jr. in the allegorical, implicitly Landis roasting and Lucas executive produced Spielberg film, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), but also exactly anticipated the end of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. For Darth Vader would also pick up the similarly black robed and quasi-religious Emperor from behind and throw him down the pentultimate garbage chute at the conclusion of the Classic Trilogy. Significantly, Vader was also initially a dutiful and obedient servant of the subterranean machineworld like the Great SEN before he rebelled and joined the ‘New Alignment’ of the Rebellion, underlining the link between the two spiritually emancipated heroes.
The Great SEN’s quick exit also ended the triumphant Ozian trio, taking the healing and airy energy of the Great Oz away from viewers and characters. This disappearance in a way briefly transformed the THX-Crow and the Cowardly SRT into a Dorothy and guardian Toto pair. At one point after the disappearance of the Great SEN, THX 1138 also briefly went through a Cowardly Lion phase, lying on a morgue stretcher and pretending he was dead to avoid being captured at one point by two pursuing robovcops. Thus, THX 1138 went through another Ozian phase, a transformative journey that came full elemental circle when he came across a computer terminal in his frantic underground odyssey with SRT. This terminal allowed THX 1138 to make like the Great SEN in his underworld monitoring centre job. Thus, THX 1138 completed a full circle transformative journey in the film that carried him through each Ozian elemental personification in turn, making him a whole and holy man. This was an extremely important innovation in the film art of Lucas, underlining the healing nature of his films and anticipating a similar holy journey completed by the priest-like Jedi Knight, Luke Skywalker, in the Classic Trilogy.
However, this healing and holy transformation was a bittersweet victory for the newly emancipated THX 1138. For the terminal allowed the whole and harmonious THX 1138 to determine that LUH 3417 had been terminated, and that her alphanumeric code had been reassigned to another test tube foetus, a sight that evoked the cloned test tube citizens of the allegorical Aldous Huxley novel, Brave New World (1932), and prepared us for the Clone troopers of the Tragic Trilogy. Curiously, while no doubt simply symbolizing the fear of Lucas that THX 1138 would not be successful, this disappointing revelation again anticipated his real life divorce and the departure of his wife Marcia from his life forever after the TZ disaster and the critical and popular failure of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI. This revelation also ended the healing Ozian cadence of the film, as there was now no need to find, liberate and heal Dorothy in the form of LUH 3417.
Still, despite the death of LUH 3417, the now harmonious THX 1138 and the virile and healthy SRT still stood in complete contrast to the drugged up and sickly inmates of the uncritically OMMRICK worshipping underground society, and quickly decided to escape the underworld. Ironically, however, while a symbol of virile life Force, SRT was not actually alive. In fact, he insisted in his jovial, Jar Jar Binks-like fashion that he was actually just a hologram. This definitely linked him to the male and female Afro-American holocast television dancers seen earlier in the movie. Thus, it was not surprising that SRT did not succeed in escaping the television linked underground labyrinth. Indeed, after leaping free of the endless underground hallway maze and from Robocop pursuit and out into an underground parking lot, SRT and THX 1138 broke into separate rocket cars and attempted to blast away to freedom. However, the rocket car of SRT was a wicked black car to the sinister left of the virtuous white rocket car of THX 1138, a colour and position that spelled doom for the jovial hologram. Not surprisingly, the naïve and literally unworldly hologram proved to be too non-human and unknowledgeable to successfully operate his phallic car. He promptly lost control and crashed prematurely into a pillar, trapping him in the TWILIGHT ZONE linked underworld…forever.
This was a pivotal and seminal car crash and death that evoked the pivotal and seminal teen car crash of Lucas. And like the real Great Crash of ’62, this car crash both ended a way of life and began a liberating new way of life. For robocops stopped to examine the wreck, allowing THX 1138 to escape the labyrinth and blast out of the subterranean underworld in his virtuous white rocket car and down a long and winding escape tunnel that anticipated the Death Star trench at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE. Ominously, one of the pursuing robocops was numbered 23, linking Lucas to the July 23, 1982 date of the TZ disaster again in another twilit memory of the future. However, despite this ominous and twilit link, the rocketing white car of THX 1138 was an important symbol, like the ruby red polygon, the ruby red pill and the three Afro-American holograms. For the car represented virility, harmonious and healthy life Force, and the side of Good, like the white horse of a Western hero. Of course, these qualities anticipated the arrival of the equally harmonious, naturally flowing and powerful J.D.s, Jedettes, Jedi and Western heroes in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, the Classic Trilogy and the Tragic Trilogy. The white rocket car also clearly represented liberation from underground youth society and all of its somnambulistic and unimaginative pod people, from draconian and sterile overlord establishment authority and its prying and banal television, and from the influence and worship of Kubrick.
Of course, linking cars to freedom came naturally to a film artist who spent so much time as a teenage speed racer. Indeed, a powerful and liberating yellow brick road coloured race car had already appeared in his allegorical student film, 1:42:08 (1966), and rocket cars or spaceships would also appear in most of the subsequent films and telefilms of Lucas, from the rocketing hot rods of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, to the land speeders, Deathpod racers and rocketing spaceships of the STAR WARS films. In fact, wholey THX 1138 even suffered from an engine temperature overheat problem that temporarily stopped his rocket car at one point in his desperate escape, anticipating a similar overheating problem that temporarily halted Jake Lloyd’s implicitly Spielberg linked Anakin Skywalker in his Death pod race against the insidious and Landis linked Sebulba-voiced by Lewis MacLeod-in STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE.
After solving his heating problem, the wholey Ozian Force was clearly now with the harmonious THX 1138 as he made his liberating escape in his rocketing car. However, racing down the winding and Yellow Lined Road of the escape tunnel at speeds up to an ominous and twilit 235 mph, THX 1138 was pursued by two of the tall, black clad, robocops. Ominously, one of the pursuing robocops was 23 again, implicitly and ominously reaffirming that Lucas and THX 1138 were already trying to escape from the shadow of the TZ disaster. These two robocops rode two white jetcycles in a tight tandem, hunched over their bikes in relentlessly roaring pursuit of THX 1138 like two hellbent flying monkeys trying to take him back to the Black Castle, or like two Wicked Witch sisters on horsey broomsticks. The sight of the two officers was ironic, reminding us that Duval played a pursuing highway patrol motorcyclist named Gordon in THE RAIN PEOPLE. They also darkly foreboded the two TIE fighters that accompanied Darth Vader on his relentless pursuit of Luke Skywalker down the Death Star trench at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE.
This link to the climatic end of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE was reinforced by the radio chatter and the scenes of the underground control room that were intercut with the rocketing cars and bikes throughout the relentless chase, elements that anticipated similar intercut Imperial and Rebel control room activity throughout the Classic Trilogy, scenes that were inspired in turn by the intercutting of the frantic War Room with the final attack run of the wayward bomber at the end of DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB, in another allusion to Kubrick. Indeed, in one snippet of control room chatter heard earlier in the movie we heard a male voice say, ‘…OK start your descent’ to THX 1138 when he was at work making robocops, a voice and phrase that was repeated in the Rebel cockpit chatter at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE.
Of course, this time the control room scenes and chatter were linked to the evil underworld Empire that was trying to capture instead of aid the rocketing hero. And the first Empire monitored the progress of THX 1138 down the trench tunnel with amusingly detached and drugged incomprehension, abruptly calling off the chase when a computer impersonally signalled that expenditure for the chase had exceeded the allotted budget, implying the conviction of Lucas that film art should be made for higher goals than the simple making of money. Ironically, this ending anticipated the ending of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, where success was also achieved when a computer was shut down, and a man was left to his own intuitive devices.
And left alone he was, as THX 1138 crashed his rocket car at an ominous and almost TZ disaster date predicting 235 mph into some unavoidable construction crew obstacles, before leaping from the freedom machine to faithfully continue his race for life and freedom. Humourously, he was quickly swarmed by a group of dwarven ‘shell dwellers’-who were joined in the 2004 CGI Special Edition by simian ‘shell dwellers’ who evoked the apemen of the Dawn of Man segment of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in another implicit affirmation of the Kubrick roasting intent of THX 1138. In the original version of the film, these shell dwellers were mostly alienated Munchkin dwarves like the Kubrick linked shell dweller previously met in the detention area, who attacked and attempted to capture THX 1138, as if in bitter reminder of the miserable fate that befell people who refused to leave behind childhood and adolescence. Fortunately, THX 1138’s transformative Ozian journey had left him a whole and harmonious adult who was easily able to fend off these warped Munchkins and CGIians and leave Oz behind forever.
Indeed, THX 1138 soon found a tunnel ladder that allowed him to climb up, up and out of the subterranean labyrinth, looking with his bald head like a determinedly rising and irrepressible human erection. The steadily climbing figure of THX 1138 also evoked the determinedly climbing heroic duo of the implicitly Douglas Fairbanks linked Freder Fredersen and his implicitly Charles Chaplin linked friend Josaphat-played by Gustav Froelich and Theodor Loos, respectively-who climbed resolutely up two ladders and out of their own subterranean worker underworld to unite the underworld workers and upperworld overseers-perhaps symbolizing film artists working hard to ensure that relations between film crews and studio heads remained good during the production of film art and that both sides committed themselves to the creation of film art for film art’s sake (implicitly symbolized by Brigitte Helm’s implicitly Mary Pickford linked Maria) rather than fame, fortune and Oscar statuettes (symbolized by the Oscar statuette evoking Machine-Man that was insidiously infused and animated with the spirit of Maria by Rotwang)-at the end of METROPOLIS. Eerily, the tenaciously pursuing robocop 04-an ironic but fitting numeric designation, given the importance of the four Ozian elements and the healing and harmonious Force in the future film art of Lucas-followed him up the ladder in dogged and despairing twilit pursuit, its Tin Man figure reminding us that THX 1138 began the film as a robotic human Tin Man before the start of his invigorating and transformative journey.
Amusingly, this Tin Officer taunted the steadily climbing hero like an insipid Darth Vader, inanely telling THX 1138 to ‘…please turn back…this is your last chance’. But THX 1138 had clearly defeated his impotent Tin Man Side. Indeed, he simply ignored the robot monkey, who soon stopped and turned back when the control room called off the overly expensive chase. This was an unnoticed but significant milestone in the films of Lucas, marking the first time that the Forces of Evil were defeated not by an hero, but by their own dimwitted greed and incomprehension, in the end. In fact, this distinctive and idiosyncratic ending prepared the viewer for the self destruction of Ford’s Bob Falfa, Paul Freeman’s Rene Belloq, McDiarmid’s Emperor and Christensen’s Skyfaller at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI and STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH.
Then swelling symphonic 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY evoking music played as THX 1138 scrambled up the last few rungs of the tunnel ladder to freedom from box populi and Kubrick worshipping masses and from drugged up student underground worlds. Finally, the embattled and wholey hero escaped the diseased and drugged underworld labyrinth with its hints of incest, and stood harmonious and free of the suffocating influence of Kubrick in the fresh air of a sunlit day. And here in the healthy open air and blazing sunlight of Kansas reality, THX 1138 stood triumphantly erect and reborn in front of an huge, apocalyptic and mushroom cloud-like setting sun like a true silhouetted Scarecrow. A Scarecrow still cheekily linked to deliberately idiosyncratic, offkilter and Old Hollywood mocking composition, for the silhouetted THX 1138 and the setting sun were located on the sinister left of the screen.
Clearly, the age of Old Hollywood as well as his subterranean life were setting and a skyrocking and cheekily idiosyncratic new day was rising for THX 1138 as well. This sunset vista anticipated the setting sun that began AMERICAN GRAFFITI, and the twin setting suns of Tatooine at the beginning of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE and at the end of STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH. Unfortunately, the setting sun also brought with it twilight, bringing Lucas closer to his own journey through the Twilight Zone, an ominous journey affirmed by the presence of Duval. However, the sunlit vista also hinted of a real world rendezvous with the African queen of his holo-tv dreams, like Dorothy’s real world rendezvous with Hunk Andrews, a rendezvous that came true in the new millennium when Lucas began to be seen with Mellody Hobson. An intriguing possibility, for at the moment THX 1138 had triumphed in the end but had not got the girl, linking him to D’Artagnan and Hawkeye and anticipating other triumphant but single heroes like John Milner, Luke Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi and Indiana Jones at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, and the Lucas executive produced and Spielberg directed allegorical film, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989).
And so, like Barbarella and Pygar, THX 1138 was at last free from Kubrick and OMMRICK worship, television and the disaffected, drugged, frustrated and impotent youthful underground labyrinth mentality and the Establishment and its exuberantly gloomy planetary nuclear apocalypse. At last Lucas left behind Establishment and film school pessimism and his generation’s wild underground rebellion and openly embraced a harmonious world free of disease and drugs. This evoked the daylit and harmonious ending of THE WIZARD OF OZ and prepared the viewer for similar daylit endings at the end of AMERICAN GRAFFITI and STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE. This healing ending also broke the viewer away from the pessimistic and sterile post-apocalyptic Cold War mentality for the first time in the film art of Lucas, anticipating the triumphant endings of the Classic Trilogy to come. Ironically, in fact, like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, THX 1138 was one of the first post-World War II allegorical films to escape from the Cold War in the end, making THX 1138 one of the first true post-Cold War films.
Clearly, this was an important new beginning and not an ending for THX 1138, Lucas and film art. Indeed, the ending of THX 1138 was a perfect and prescient metaphor for the life and films of Lucas. For the ending presaged Lucas’ own embattled and ultimately successful escape from his father, the boring, unimaginative and pod people filled small town labyrinth of Modesto and his defeatist fellow film students and the MAD establishment, and eventual triumph as an independent and imaginative J.D. Jedi film artist. This triumphant ending also anticipated his liberation from the benevolent but constricting influence of his mentor Coppola and his separation from his wife, Marcia. A significant farewell to hippy flower power impotence that anticipated the rise of the disciplined and determined ranks of the militant film Rebellion and its unswerving dream of restoring a bold New Hollywood Republic policed by wise but tough and unyielding and triumphant Jedi Director Knights in the Classic Trilogy.
Significantly, the many allusions to previous allegorical films and novels gave the odd and baffling film a sense of continuity in spite of its unusual nature to THX 1138. The unisexually bald men and women with their alphanumerical designations and identical clothing seen in the film also evoked those equally bald and alphanumeric designated men and women met in the allegorical Yevgeny Zamyatin novel, We (1924), a satirical roast of the Russian Revolution. The legions of bald male workers also evoked the legions of bald men who built the Tower of Babel in METROPOLIS, a film that saw vengeful and technology obsessed inventor, Rotwang-played by Rudolph Klein-Rogge-try but fail to wreak furious revenge on the father of Freder Fredersen, the wealthy and powerful ‘Master of Metropolis’ with the Los Angeles cadenced name of Joh Fredersen-played by Alfred Abel. Significantly, Rotwang struck back at Joh Fredersen for taking his wife, Hel, from him, a seduction that killed her giving birth to the successful and implicitly Douglas Fairbanks linked Freder Fredersen-played by Gustav Froelich-a failure to stop Joh Fredersen that implied the hope of Lang that the equally vengeful and technology obsessed film inventor, Thomas Edison, would also fail in his furious attempt to stop the wealthy and Los Angeles based Hollywood studios from successfully releasing the film art that they had taken from Edison, on one level. Fitting evocations of METROPOLIS, as determined blonde underworld worker 11811 aka Georgy-played by Erwin Biswanger-openly anticipated the arrival of Georgie Lucas and Luke Skywalker.
The state enforced drug addiction designed to keep everyone passive and malleable evoked the state enforced drug addiction and malleable passivity of the citizens of Brave New World. The film’s constant electronic surveillance-aided by LUH 3417 and SEN 5241, who initially worked in the underworld’s computer and closed circuit television monitoring control room-also evoked the battle against constant surveillance, two way telescreens and enforced sexual abstinence of Nineteen Eighty-four, and the television linked telescreens of “1984”. This distant surveillance also evoked the crystal balls that allowed Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West to watch over Dorothy and her companions in THE WIZARD OF OZ. The listless, unimaginative, unemotional and lifeless people of the underworld also evoked the equally listless, unimaginative, unemotional and lifeless pod people and their podovisions of the allegorical and television bashing Don Siegel film, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956). The vaguely Ozian structure, embrace of artistic independence and rejection of the counterculture’s dissipated drug use, as well as the labyrinth under the City of Night of the implicitly Wicked Witch of the West linked Tyrant of BARBARELLA also returned in THX 1138.
In addition, by portraying an individual’s struggle to break free from an asexual and robotic underground society rendered somnambulistic and impotent by state enforced drug addiction, THX 1138 often seemed like the story of a frustrated underground Odysseus struggling to continue his journey by escaping a dystopia that was a mixture of the drugged up land of the Lotus Eaters and the ghostly underworld of Hades. However, despite incorporating and alluding to all of these previous films, legends and novels, Lucas still succeeded in heading off on his own idiosyncratic and Ozian tinged direction in THX 1138, an idiosyncratic direction enhanced by unbalanced frames, disjointed and staccato editing, strange sound effects and dialogue and lack of definite plot and story. Lucas also anticipated his future, for the high priests of OMMRICK in hooded black and grey robes anticipated the black cape of the huge and intimidating black roboman, Darth Vader, and the gleefully insidious and black robed and hooded Emperor of the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy and Tragic Trilogy, while the tall black and white uniformed robocops with silver metal faces anticipated the lookalike white skeletal armoured Stormtroopers of those trilogies.
Unfortunately, however, Duvall openly linked Lucas to the Twilight Zone again via his role in the TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series. Pleasance also ominously linked Lucas to the Twilight Zone again via his role as Professor Ellis Fowler in the allegorical Buck Houghton telefilm, ‘The Changing of the Guard’ (1962), a season three episode of the original TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series. Curiously, PTO, a thoughtful and philosophic old man who looked like Clarke, co-writer of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and was met in the surreal and lunar detention centure, was played by Ian Wolfe, who like Duval and Pleasance also ominously linked Lucas and THX 1138 to television and the Twilight Zone again via a small role as Schwimmer in the allegorical Siegel telefilm, ‘Uncle Simon’ (1963), from season five of the original TWILIGHT ZONE series, in a twilit trio of links to the Zone for Lucas. Last but not least, THX 1138 also had to elude doggedly pursuing Robocop 23 in order to escape from the drugged up and diseased underworld and stand at last in healthy and sunlit freedom in the real world. Thus, Lucas also unknowingly anticipated the TZ disaster and his fight to use CGI enhancement to liberate film art from the Twilight Zone after 1982 in eerie and ominous memories of the future disaster, as well.