Happy Star Wars Day! Here’s a truly dorky piece of trivia

C3P0

Today, apparently, is “Star Wars” Day, a modest celebration for an obscure film from the gritty era of 1970s Hollywood cinema. It couldn’t have happened to a scrappier movie, whose studio initially assumed no one wanted a sincere, retro-style space fantasy whose biggest name was the star of dark comedies (like “Kind Hearts and Coronets”) from Britain’s Ealing Studios, and among whose homaged-to relics were Akira Kurosawa samurai pictures and 1930s “Flash Gordon” serials. But today, it seems, it finally gets the limelight it’s long deserved. Cue lots of “May the fourth be with you!” jokes, which we definitely won’t make.

It’s more or less impossible to offer up anything original to say about this bohemoth. (Other than to remind you, as ever, that there are other films worth your fanaticism. Perhaps next Saturday can be “Satantango” Day?) So here’s a piece of trivia that virtually no one will tell you — and about which almost none of you will care.

George Lucas, as you may know, wasn’t always a populist filmmaker. In fact, when he was starting out, he had no intention of being one. He was an avant-garde head, a techie whose first feature was “THX 1138,” a borderline experimental hardcore sci-fi narrative whose majority is taken up with bleeping, flashing aural-and-visual montage. It was an expansion on his USC student film “Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB,” which is basically the same thing only with even less plot. All hail a time when major studios bank-rolled unproven filmmakers wanting to turn their student shorts into largely plot-free, experimental features.

But you might know all this. This isn’t, though, the part we’re claiming you probably don’t know.

That part is this: Lucas was particularly in thrall to Arthur Lipsett, a Canadian collage filmmaker whose shorts explored, if we can be vague, “modern life,” and the specific ways in which it was rubbish. His frantic, overwhelmingly dense debut, 1961′s “Very Nice, Very Nice,” was justly nominated for an Oscar (though it unjustly lost — you can watch it here). Lipsett’s work became longer and increasingly strange, as he himself became more and more psychologically unhinged. In 1986 at the age of 49, he took his own life.

Among his most famous works is “21-87,” made in 1963. It was Lipsett’s follow-up to “Very Nice, Very Nice,” and it swapped in live-action for still photos and adopted an even bleaker, if still somewhat comically bemused worldview. Lucas was a particular champion of this film, and its frenetic style proved an inspiration on his early work — a style he would abandon for the more classical “American Graffiti” and “Star Wars” films. (In fact, his aethetics, by the prequels, became comically stodgy, with amusingly stiff actors swapping lifeless exposition in front of disproportionately busy digital backdrops.)

By the first “Star Wars,” Lucas felt he needed to repay one of his idols, even if as a mere easter egg. And so, if you look closely, the number on Princess Leia’s jail cell when the Empire has her under lock and key is 21-87 — just like Lipsett’s film.

Ta-da! Tell your friends.

And here’s the short itself, embedded from the National Film Board of Canada. It might not be to all of your likings. But it’s great. It’s better than “Star Wars!” “21-87″ Day, anyone?

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



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.