The entire world awaits the arrival of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which hits theaters on December 15, but you can stream George Lucas’s highly experimental student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB right now.
On Monday, the sci-fi movie platform Dust released all of Electronic Labyrinth, a student film young George Lucas made while he was studying at the University of Southern California, to stream on Facebook. The 14-minute film will be available to stream for three days, and was released to mark the end of a collaboration between Dust and Lucas’s alma mater, the USC Film School.
Eric Bromberg, Vice President of Business Development at Gunpowder & Sky, told Inverse in an email that Electronic Labyrinth was uploaded as part of a deal with USC to showcase emerging filmmakers with science-fiction thesis projects. “We then wanted to make sure to generate a massive audience for the student films,” he writes, “It dawned on us that showcasing Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 would very much help garner awareness for the USC Student Film week.”
In 1967, while a student at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, George Lucas wrote and directed Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, in which a citizen named “THX 1138 4EB” navigates a maze to escape the confines of his computerized society.
As both a complimentary piece and counter-programming to the massive blockbuster from Disney, Electronic Labyrinth is a compelling look at Lucas and his artistic sensibilities a whole ten years before he became the father to a multimedia franchise worth billions of dollars. It’s also pretty important to watch if you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan and want to know what all those references to THX 1138 are all about.
A short few years later, Lucas would rework his student film into 1971’s THX 1138, which was released by Warner Bros. and starred Robert Duvall in the title role. The film was a mixed success, but it laid the groundwork for Lucas, who would make Star Wars after directing one more movie, American Graffiti in 1973.
Though it’s none other than George Lucas behind the camera of Electronic Labyrinth, his film is a truly surreal and experimental trip through a dystopian nightmare. It’s also totally what you expect a hippie college student in the middle of the ‘60s to make. It’s rough, impenetrable, and just plain hard to understand, but that’s also what makes the movie kind of awesome. Not only is it the distant genesis of what would become Star Wars, the movie shows off a revolutionary artist just as they’re maturing.
“One main takeaway from seeing Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 is that everyone starts somewhere; everyone was once a student, even George Lucas,” says Bromberg.
You can stream Electronic Labyrinh: THX 1138 4EB on Dust’s Facebook page from now until December 14.