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Info Wanted: Has anyone done... The Theatrical Cut of THX-1138?

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 (Edited)

Hello, this is my first post on these forums.

I was wondering if there had been any HD restorations of the original cut of THX-1138. A few days ago, I watched the film for the first time, only it was the director’s cut (which seems to be the only version available these days). I noticed a lot of poorly inserted computer graphics, and was interested in finding that original, unaltered film. As far as I’m aware, the original cut hasn’t seen an official release since the days of LaserDisc.

I’d like to know if there has been any attempts to bring the theatrical version up to a higher standard, whether that be through upscaling or any other method. The best I have found was an .mp4 file on archive.org, but the quality seems to be no better than that of a LaserDisc copy (maybe even worse). Does anyone have any news or any information about any preservation of the original cut, and if so could you let me know?

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there is a 720p version of the laserdisc version i think or a 35mm 720p copy

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The Hybrid Cut by TM2YC is currently the best way to go with THX 1138. TM2YC focused on trying to use as much HD footage from the blu-ray as possible, while keeping the film cut to match the laserdisc. Only new effects that genuinely looked better were used, otherwise it’s the original effects. The footage cut for the blu-ray is from the Laserdisc and is not great quality, but this is something like 9 mins of the entire film, and it works quite well.

In terms of cuts of THX, there were actually 4 different cuts. The one most people call the original cut is actually the first reissue of the film. The actual original theatrical edit has never made it to home video. WB cut footage from the film for it’s first theatrical run, and George added it back after it’s post Star Wars rerelease. The other cut is the German and Italian version that’s only slightly rearranged and trimmed, but not super noticeably. I don’t think it’s known why though.

“Goodnight, but not Goodbye!”

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Interesting. Didn’t know there were that many different versions. Thanks for the info!

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The picture quality of the Laserdisc rip that is out there is really rough. It is the first directors cut from the late 70s since the original studio hacked up cut has never been on home video.

I wish American Graffiti and THX 1138 would be shown some love. The available releases leave a lot to be desired. There is no reason they cannot be perfectly restored from their techniscope negatives. And include the initial releases and first directors cuts. Include the mono mixes.

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The BD master for American Graffiti was an entirely new master that was supervised by Lucas himself

But unfortunately after he approved it was when Universal ruined it with their routine sharpening and heavy filtering

Raccoons

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Every single release since the Signature collection Laserdisc is altered. Every single one has that cgi sunset. Including the DVD and Blu ray. Yeah sure if you track down an earlier laserdisc you can get the first directors cut from the late 70s for American Graffiti with the Dolby mix, but not the mono mix and not the theatrical cut. Even the Laservision disc from 1979 doesn’t have the original mix.

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JadedSkywalker said:

Every single one has that cgi sunset.

What was changed about the sunset?

Army of Darkness: The Medieval Deadit | The Terminator - Color Regrade | The Wrong Trousers - Audio Preservation
SONIC RACES THROUGH THE GREEN FIELDS.
THE SUN RACES THROUGH A BLUE SKY FILLED WITH WHITE CLOUDS.
THE WAYS OF HIS HEART ARE MUCH LIKE THE SUN. SONIC RUNS AND RESTS; THE SUN RISES AND SETS.
DON’T GIVE UP ON THE SUN. DON’T MAKE THE SUN LAUGH AT YOU.

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For American Graffiti. The clouds and sunset were added they were not originally there. The original shot was different. Its a minor change honestly, especially considered what he did to Star Wars and THX 1138.

I think the only copies of the first directors cut of THX i have is the DVD from Rikter and the original VHS. I also have the so called directors DVD with all those cgi cartoon effects.

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JadedSkywalker said:

For American Graffiti. The clouds and sunset were added they were not originally there. The original shot was different. Its a minor change honestly, especially considered what he did to Star Wars and THX 1138.

Oh, I thought you were referring to the sunset shot in THX, haha! Yeah, on the one hand it’s a shame that even American Graffiti, a non-special effects driven film, had to be meddled with by George on all the digital releases, but on the other hand it’s such an inconsequential change that it doesn’t negatively affect the film at all.

Army of Darkness: The Medieval Deadit | The Terminator - Color Regrade | The Wrong Trousers - Audio Preservation
SONIC RACES THROUGH THE GREEN FIELDS.
THE SUN RACES THROUGH A BLUE SKY FILLED WITH WHITE CLOUDS.
THE WAYS OF HIS HEART ARE MUCH LIKE THE SUN. SONIC RUNS AND RESTS; THE SUN RISES AND SETS.
DON’T GIVE UP ON THE SUN. DON’T MAKE THE SUN LAUGH AT YOU.

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Dek Rollins said:

JadedSkywalker said:

For American Graffiti. The clouds and sunset were added they were not originally there. The original shot was different. Its a minor change honestly, especially considered what he did to Star Wars and THX 1138.

Oh, I thought you were referring to the sunset shot in THX, haha! Yeah, on the one hand it’s a shame that even American Graffiti, a non-special effects driven film, had to be meddled with by George on all the digital releases, but on the other hand it’s such an inconsequential change that it doesn’t negatively affect the film at all.

Wasn’t some of the text at the end about the character’s fates altered slightly to sync up with the sequel though?

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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SilverWook said:

Wasn’t some of the text at the end about the character’s fates altered slightly to sync up with the sequel though?

Not that I’m aware. I’ve seen it on 35mm twice fairly recently (as in pre-pandemic), and I don’t recall the epilogue text being any different.

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The epilogue text was changed for the 1978 reissue if I remember correctly. So if the prints you saw weren’t 1973 prints the text would’ve already been changed.

Army of Darkness: The Medieval Deadit | The Terminator - Color Regrade | The Wrong Trousers - Audio Preservation
SONIC RACES THROUGH THE GREEN FIELDS.
THE SUN RACES THROUGH A BLUE SKY FILLED WITH WHITE CLOUDS.
THE WAYS OF HIS HEART ARE MUCH LIKE THE SUN. SONIC RUNS AND RESTS; THE SUN RISES AND SETS.
DON’T GIVE UP ON THE SUN. DON’T MAKE THE SUN LAUGH AT YOU.

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Yeah it was changed to bring it in line with the sequel which was in production. More American Graffiti came out in 1979 the same year the first film was released on home video on Laservision laserdisc.

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Dek Rollins said:

The epilogue text was changed for the 1978 reissue if I remember correctly. So if the prints you saw weren’t 1973 prints the text would’ve already been changed.

Ah! Had no idea. Interesting.

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This version is on myspleen, which is the only HD version of the LD cut that I ever found:

As you may know, thxita, a member on the board, recently obtained a 35mm IB print of THX 1138. This print is from Italy so all the titles, and computer screens are translated into Italian and the sound contains the Italian dub. The print has been scanned and is currently being cleaned up by Poita and Harmy has expressed interest in creating a ‘despecialized’ version.

While their efforts will help create the best version of this film whose original version has little chance of seeing the light of day, I thought it would be nice to take what we have so far and whip up a quick and dirty English version for people to enjoy now. Poita recently released a file containing the whole scan as-is, and I took this and made an English version.

I used the laserdisc as a point of reference for this sync because it’s the only official release of the original version of the film. In a sense, I felt this to be the closest thing to a ‘GOUT’ that THX has. This is the 1st director’s cut of the film that was released after the success of Star Wars; the 35mm print, however, is the 1971 theatrical cut. The only changes between the two are re-arranged scenes in the middle and a shortened scene towards the end between SEN and a couple of young children (and by short, it’s only about 5 seconds shorter). I decided to maintain the edit of the laserdisc version because it was easier to simply edit the footage to the laserdisc than trying to edit both the 35 and the laserdisc and moving both around. I’ve viewed both versions of the film and to be honest, it doesn’t change much. The scenes in question are independent of each other and don’t enhance or take away from the overall narrative. At worst, these edits change our views about how quickly this futuristic society expedites criminals or tortures them prior to trial depending on which version you watch. I just say: meh.

Here are some additional notes:

  • The first 3 minutes of the film were taken from the bluray version. This includes Buck Rodgers, the Warner Bros logo, the Zeotrope logo, the intro titles and a close up of a clock. At first, I was going to just leave the laserdisc footage, but Buck Rodgers looks particularly bad on the LD and three minutes is a long time to look at badly upscaled LD captures.

  • Any additional missing footage though is filled in with the laserdisc. This is much easier to do since the laserdisc footage was already laying under the 35 footage in my timeline and any gaps in the 35 timeline is replaced by the laserdisc footage. These last from a mere few frames to a few seconds at a reel change. I really didn’t feel like pulling out my hair to splice in frames from other sources and I prefer this to black frames. Plus, this helps show the difference between this and the LD and what footage is missing from the print and what any future restorer will need from alternate sources. I also might have missed a few frame splices here and there and the sync may slightly go out here and there.

  • I replaced all of the Italian info screens with the laserdisc. The Bluray uses new computer screens so that was worthless anyway. A future restoration might be able to use the 16mm print that Poita scanned.

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I hit up Warner Archive on Twitter asking if they had Any plans to release the theatrical cut. They said no. And the versions on streaming sites like a Vudu and Amazon Which claim to be the theatrical cut are not.

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.”

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

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Yeah, THX situation sucks. We can only hope Poita returns and we get an update on the 35mm preservation.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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Thank you all for the information. The additions to the Director’s Cut honestly looked like cut-scenes ripped from Abe’s Oddysee. I mean, it’s Lucas’ vision and I can understand his motivation, but for him to then claim that the previous versions of the film “don’t exist anymore” simply because it doesn’t match up with his vision is just an ignorant statement to make. Preserve film.

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cryloh said:

Thank you all for the information. The additions to the Director’s Cut honestly looked like cut-scenes ripped from Abe’s Oddysee. I mean, it’s Lucas’ vision and I can understand his motivation, but for him to then claim that the previous versions of the film “don’t exist anymore” simply because it doesn’t match up with his vision is just an ignorant statement to make. Preserve film.

Lucas is the worst for that. He’s not the only director to do it, but Lucas really does try to bury his old work.

“Goodnight, but not Goodbye!”

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JadedSkywalker said:

The picture quality of the Laserdisc rip that is out there is really rough. It is the first directors cut from the late 70s since the original studio hacked up cut has never been on home video.

It’s really only three scenes that were cut. Where Ron Howard tells the principle to “Kiss a duck.”, the car salesman, and Harrison singing Some Enchanted Evening. I don’t think it’s really warranted for a theatrical because that was more on the studio vs George’s Final Cut. Nothing drastic happens that makes it feel like something missing or different with those 3 scene not in the movie. It’s not like a Special Edition of sorts, I’d love to see that supposed 3 hour version which it would be cool because I feel like I’m in the 60’s when I watch it, the longer the better lol.

All my life as I looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never in my mind did I know where I was, what I was doing.

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I see no problem presenting a film looking like it did during its original release, grain and all. With original audio. They should look like films made in the 1970s. They should look like Techniscope films.