| 9 min

Available options


This short film from Arthur Lipsett is an abstract succession of unrelated views of the passing crowd. A commentary on a machine-dominated society, it is often cited as an influence on George Lucas's Star Wars and his conceptualization of "The Force."

This film contains scenes of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.

Arthur Lipsett and his experimental 21-87, a collage of seemingly unrelated snippets of film that offered a wry commentary on the machine age, would inspire young filmmakers of an entire generation. George Lucas would be so impressed with Lipsett and this film that he would refer to the film’s title in the first Star Wars film (It is Princess Leia’s prison cell number)!

Albert Ohayon
From the playlist: The 1960s: An Explosion of Creativity

Arthur Lipsett somehow distills these tiny fragments of truth....both harsh and beautiful......and like a great magician, i have no idea how he does it......Lipsett has gotten some attention in the last few years....but more people need to see his films.......he also doesn't get enough credit for his ear....the gathering/editing/manipulation of sound in his films is staggering....i often listen to his films, rather than watch them.....i wish i had all his unused reels of audio collage to sift through.....i hope that in one of the many clearances that happen when recording formats change, they weren't thrown in a dumpster.....

David Bryant
From the playlist: David Bryant (Godspeed You! Black Emperor)

Pedagogical evaluations and study guides are only available to CAMPUS subscribers.


Features designed specifically for teachers. Learn more

Already subscribed? Sign in

Embed this code on your site

21-87, Arthur Lipsett, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Video player width

by Reset
  • director
    Arthur Lipsett
  • producer
    Colin Low
    Tom Daly
  • re-recording
    George Croll

  • Jander


    Jander, 19 Nov 2014
  • mattblais

    this man's work is genius

    mattblais, 31 Jan 2012
  • murraysiple

    Favorite film in the world. Thanks David Rimmer for showing this while I was at Emily Carr. It has inspired all my work in film/video.

    murraysiple, 9 Nov 2011
  • Shawn

    BTW, I'm old enough to remember seeing Lipsett's work on celluloid in my high school AV class. I never thought of it as a mash up but that's exactly what it was, yeah: pre-digital mashup.

    Shawn, 31 Jan 2011
  • Shawn

    When it's a "rights problem," it's certainly not something that the NFB wants to have happen to keep out of anyone's hands (grimy or otherwise). It's a problem for lots of older films that have become available online, I think.

    Shawn, 31 Jan 2011
  • MargaretDrive

    Ok, I signed up, I tried to buy this movie-- still I can't watch it.... please help!

    MargaretDrive, 2 Jan 2011
  • jmatlin

    Sorry, guys. We had to take the film down due to some rights issues, but we're working very hard to make it available again. If you want to be notified when it goes public, please send me an email at j.matlin@nfb.ca. Thanks.

    jmatlin, 13 Dec 2010
  • mubbazoot

    give us permission please

    mubbazoot, 12 Dec 2010
  • jahal002

    I'm also gonna have to ask that question

    jahal002, 11 Dec 2010
  • eastyoung


    eastyoung, 18 Nov 2010
  • Khalm

    Yes, how does one get permission?...

    Khalm, 8 Nov 2010
  • OneDerBoy

    Exactly how does one go about gaining permission to view this? Is it such a relic you need to keep it from the grimy hands of the serfs?

    OneDerBoy, 4 Nov 2010

The NFB is committed to respecting your privacy

We use cookies to ensure that our site works efficiently, as well as for advertising purposes.

If you do not wish to have your information used in this way, you can modify your browser settings before continuing your visit.

Learn more