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George Lucas’ prize-winning student short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX-1138 4EB is getting a digital release from Gunpowder and Sky’s sci-fi Facebook channel Dust. Made 40 years ago, the film about a man attempting to escape a futuristic dystopia served as the inspiration for Lucas’ debut feature THX-1138 .
After establishing his reputation with his early science fiction works, Lucas would produce the coming-of-age film American Graffiti, inspired by his own hot-rodding days as a California teenager. The filmmaker would then go on to change the face of movies forever with his blockbuster Star Wars, which launched an entire empire that would later branch out into television, video games and every other area of media.
Long before Star Wars helped make him a billionaire movie mogul, Lucas got his start at USC film school with Electronic Labyrinth: THX-1138 4EB . As reported by The Wrap, the independent media company Gunpowder and Sky will release the short that launched Lucas’ career on their Facebook channel Dust as part of a series featuring shorts made at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Lucas’ film will debut on Dust on December 11th, 2017.
Electronic Labyrinth won Lucas the top prize at the National Student Film Festival in 1967, where legend has it Steven Spielberg first saw the film and was taken with Lucas’ talent. Spielberg and Lucas would go on to become two of the biggest names in Hollywood, finally collaborating on Raiders of the Lost Ark and three more future films featuring Harrison Ford as adventurer Indiana Jones (another Indiana Jones sequel is reportedly on the way).
Lucas himself would parlay Electronic Labyrinth into the feature-length
THX-1138 , starring Robert Duvall as the title character, a prisoner living in a sterile, dehumanized future world. Presenting a much more bleak, art-house view of science fiction than the later Star Wars movies, THX-1138 was technically innovative, especially in the area of sound (Lucas would appropriately go on to name his audio company THX ).
After making millions with his Star Wars trilogy (not to mention the marketing dollars that flowed in thanks to the films’ popularity among children), Lucas went back to the well a second time with his trilogy of Star Wars prequel films, an endeavor that resulted in lots more cash and tons of controversy. Despite promising in the 2000s that no one beside himself would ever make a Star Wars film, Lucas would ultimately sell the franchise off to Disney, who have continued the legacy with a new trilogy plus spinoffs (and a second new trilogy now being conceived by one of the many young filmmakers Lucas inspired, Rian Johnson). Soon the movie that started it all, Electronic Labyrinth: THX-1138 4EB will be streaming for all to see thanks to Dust. Presumably it will be streaming in its original form with no changes, though you never know with Lucas.