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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
  • 1963 (1963)
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.

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.

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] Lucas's aesthetic and style was strongly influenced by it for the Star Wars films and a number of 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. Lucas never met Arthur Lipsett, who committed suicide in 1986, but tributes to 21-87 appear in Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB, which is dated as taking place on '05-14-2187'[2] and throughout Star Wars: the phrase, "The Force" itself is said to have been inspired by the short film;[3][4] and in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Princess Leia's prison cell on the Death Star is numbered 2187. 21-87 received further reference in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in which Finn's Stormtrooper designation is FN-2187.


  1. ^ Hassannia, Tina (2 March 2016). "Colin Low, Don Owen and how the NFB's Unit B changed Canadian cinema". CBC Arts. Retrieved 2 March 2016. 
  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 22 December 2008
  4. ^ CBC article on SW Retrieved 22 December 2008

External links[edit]