Tag Archives: the hyper-anxious William Blake of cinema

Very Nice, Very Nice (1961) – Arthur Lipsett

Created by Arthur Lipsett (Canadian, 1936–1986), Very Nice, Very Nice (1961) is a disjointed collage of sound, personal photographs, magazine clippings, and fragments of moving image that Lipsett collected during his employment at the Canadian National Film Board, where he worked between 1958 and 1978. Lipsett has been described as the “hyper-anxious William Blake of cinema,” [1] and he said of the film himself: “It was initially a sound experiment – purely for the love of placing one sound after another.” [2] Very Nice, Very Nice was nominated for an Academy Award in 1962 in the Best Live Action Short category.

Stanley Kubrick described Very Nice, Very Nice as “one of the most imaginative and brilliant uses of the movie screen and soundtrack that I have ever seen,” [3] and asked Lipsett to direct a trailer for Dr. Strangelove (1964). Lipsett declined the offer, but Kubrick’s own work on the trailer shows the influence of Very Nice, Very Nice.

Lipsett’s subsequent films THX-1138 and 21-87 also had a major effect on Star Wars creator George Lucas, who noted in an interview, “there’s no one better than Arthur Lipsett.” [4]

A new biography of Lipsett, Do Not Look Away, was released this year in Canada, and was written by Amelia Does (who also worked in Remembering Arthur, a 2006 documentary about the artist).

You can see more of Lipsett’s films in high res over at the National Film Board of Canada.