Without Arthur Lipsett’s 21-87, there would be no Star Wars

Arthur Lipsett

Arthur Lipsett (May 13, 1936 – May 1, 1986) was a Canadian avant-garde filmmaker who influenced filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas.  Wikipedia on Arthur Lipsett

His short films were a personal fusion of sound and image and what emerged was an art form that is unique to filmmaking – the montage.

The film below is 21-87 and another short of his called Very Nice, Very Nice was nominated for a Best Short Subject Oscar in 1962.  George Lucas, a young film student fell in love with these abstract films.

’When George saw 21-87, a lightbulb went off,’ says Walter Murch, who created the densely layered soundscapes in [Lucas’s 1967 student short] THX 1138 and collaborated with Lucas on American Graffiti. ‘One of the things we clearly wanted to do in THX-1138 was to make a film where the sound and the pictures were free-floating. Occasionally, they would link up in a literal way, but there would also be long sections where the two of them would wander off, and it would stretch the audience’s mind to try to figure out the connection.’

From the ice-cold but groundbreaking THX-1138, Lucas then went on to make the music film-collage American Grafitti, and with that success, emerged Star Wars.

Lucas would later pay homage to the short film “21-87” as the number of Princess Leia’s cell in Star Wars.

If you listen closely to the film, you might also hear a mention of The Force.

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