Arthur Lipsett in the 1960s
May 13, 1936|
|Died||May 1, 1986
|Years active||1958–1970; 1978|
Born in Montreal into a Jewish family, Lipsett saw his mother, an immigrant from Kiev, commit suicide when he was 10 years of age. His father remarried without consulting Arthur and his daughter, Marian. Despite his difficult past, Lipsett excelled as a student at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal, where his mentor, Arthur Lismer, recommended him to the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). Lipsett joined the NFB in 1958 as an editor.
Lipsett's particular passion was sound. He collected pieces of sound from a variety of sources and fit them together to create an interesting auditory sensation. After playing one of these creations to friends, they suggested that Lipsett combine images with the sound collage. The result is a 7 minute long film Very Nice, Very Nice which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Live Action Subjects in 1962. Despite not winning the Oscar, this film brought Lipsett considerable praise from critics and directors. Stanley Kubrick was one of Lipsett's fans, and asked him to create a trailer for his upcoming movie Dr. Strangelove. Lipsett declined Kubrick's offer. Kubrick went on to direct the trailer himself; however, Lipsett's influence on Kubrick is clearly visible in the released trailer.
Lipsett's meticulous editing and combination of audio and visual montage was both groundbreaking and influential. His film 21-87 was a profound influence on director George Lucas, who used thematic approaches from 21–87 in THX 1138, his Star Wars films and also American Graffiti. Lucas has said that his use of the term the "The Force" in Star Wars was "an echo of that phrase in 21-87". Lucas never met Lipsett, but tributes to 21–87 appear in several places in Star Wars. For example, the holding cell of Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope on the Death Star is cell No. 2187.
Lipsett's success allowed him some freedom at the NFB, but as his films became more bizarre, this freedom quickly disappeared. In his later years, he suffered from psychological problems, including bipolar disorder, which progressed in severity. Lipsett committed suicide in 1986, two weeks before his 50th birthday.
Works about Lipsett 
Lipsett has been the subject of three documentary films. In 2006, a feature-length documentary about Lipsett, Remembering Arthur, was produced by Public Pictures in association with the NFB, Bravo! and TVOntario. The Arthur Lipsett Project: A Dot on the Histomap is a 2007 NFB documentary directed by Eric Gaucher. In 2010, the NFB produced the short animated documentary Lipsett Diaries, directed by Theodore Ushev and written by Chris Robinson. A short biography on Lipsett's life and work Do Not Look Away: The Life Of Arthur Lipsett was published in 2012.
- "Arthur Lipsett Biography". Focus on Animation. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- Wired 13.05: Life After Darth
- Brown, Dan (September 8, 2004). "Star Wars: the Canadian angle". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
- Kashmere, Brett (May 2004). "Arthur Lipsett". Senses of Cinema. ISSN 1443-4059.
- Cahute, Larissa (March 10, 2011). "Genie Awards: Finding the 'crazy manic sides'". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved March 14, 2011.
- "Remembering Arthur". Documentary film. NFB.ca. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
- "The Arthur Lipsett Project: A Dot on the Histomap". Documentary film. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
- "Lipsett Diaries". Film website. National Film Board of Canada. Archived from the original on October 10 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
- Arthur Lipsett at the Internet Movie Database
- Overview of work and films by Arthur Lipsett at the National Film Board of Canada
- Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database
- A Clown Outside the Circus This article by Lois Siegel first appeared in "Cinema Canada," October 1986. Lois Siegel.
- Remembering Arthur
- Lipsett diaries animation film