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Directed by Arthur Lipsett
Produced by Colin Low
Tom Daly
Edited by Arthur Lipsett
Distributed by National Film Board of Canada
Release date
(55 years ago)
Running time
9 minutes 33 seconds
Country Canada
Language English

21-87 is a 1963 Canadian abstract collage film created by Arthur Lipsett that lasts 9 minutes and 33 seconds.[citation needed]

The short film, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, is a collage of snippets from discarded footage found by Lipsett in the editing room of the National Film Board (where he was employed as an animator), combined with his own black and white 16 mm footage which he shot on the streets of Montreal and New York City, among other locations.[citation needed]

Influence on George Lucas[edit]

21-87 has had a profound influence on director George Lucas and sound designer/editor Walter Murch, with Lucas stating that it was "the kind of movie I wanted to make — a very off the wall, abstract kind of film".[1]

The film strongly influenced Lucas in the aesthetic and style for the Star Wars films, as well as a number of his other works, including American Graffiti and his pure cinema short films 6-18-67, 1:42.08, Look at Life, his short film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, and the feature it inspired, THX 1138.[citation needed]

Although Lucas never met Arthur Lipsett, who committed suicide in 1986, tributes to 21-87 appear throughout his work. For example, Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB is dated as taking place on '05-14-2187'.[2]

Throughout Star Wars, the phrase "The Force" itself is said to have been inspired by the short film.[3][4] In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Princess Leia's prison cell on the Death Star is numbered 2187.[citation needed]

The 21-87 theme has continued to be referenced in the new films, such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in which Finn's Stormtrooper designation is FN-2187.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hassannia, Tina (2 March 2016). "Colin Low, Don Owen and how the NFB's Unit B changed Canadian cinema". CBC Arts. Retrieved 2016-03-02. 
  2. ^ Lucas, George (Director) (1967). Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (DVD [on the bonus disk accompanying THX 1138: The George Lucas Director's Cut]). USA: Warner Bros. 
  3. ^ George Lucas interview with Wired. Retrieved on 2008-12-22 from https://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.05/lucas.html?pg=3&topic=lucas&topic_set=%20Life%20After%20Darth.
  4. ^ CBC article on SW. Retrieved on 2008-12-22 from http://www.cbc.ca/arts/features/starwars/.

External links[edit]