21-87 Short Film

(Welcome to The Movies That Made Star Wars, a series where we explore the films that inspired George Lucas’ iconic universe. In this edition: the experimental short film 21-87.)

When George Lucas was off at film school at the University of Southern California, he was exposed to all manner of film, from the mainstream to the experimental. One of the films that made the most profound impact on him was a short film from Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett called 21-87. Clocking in at just over nine-minutes, the film might superficially seem to be a random collage of images and sounds, but these juxtapositions chosen by the filmmaker add up to create an overwhelming sense of emotion that is sure to cause deep, existential questions in viewers.

Walter Murch, a fellow student and future collaborator of Lucas’, said that when Lucas saw 21-87 for the first time, “a light bulb went off.”

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