September 24, 2007

Movie Review: Helvetica

helvetica.jpgMister Bookworm and I went down to the IFC Center and watched Helvetica, which is a movie, you've probably guessed, about the typeface, Helvetica.

The movie goes over the history of the type, who made it, why they made it, how it got used, how it gets used today, and the various design ideas about the font. From the site:

Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2007) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives. The film is an exploration of urban spaces in major cities and the type that inhabits them, and a fluid discussion with renowned designers about their work, the creative process, and the choices and aesthetics behind their use of type.

The font arose out of the modernist design movement in the late 50's, swept the world in corporate rebranding efforts in the 60's and 70's and even found its way into GUI design for OS's. It's used everywhere and numerous designers in the film refer to the font as "air" or "gravity" because it is so ubiquitous in design.

I really appreciate the structure of the film which starts with history and moves seamlessly into the older designers, Swiss designers, who really adore the typeface. From there it segues nicely into the growth of the font from being regarded as archetypically modern to being archetypically, well, typical. Then, the film talks to designers who hate the typeface and rebel against it. Throughout everyone, regardless of their preferences for or against it, acknowledge the strength and timeless utility of Helvetica.

My only criticism of the movie was that I found the conclusion to be somewhat weak, in fact, my mind wandered during the last ten minutes and I don't even know what they were talking about.

Overall, though, I found the film to be really fascinating. It was well done and the cinematography definitely showed a designer's eye for composition. If you're a designer or at all interested in design, I would recommend this film to you.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at September 24, 2007 10:35 AM | TrackBack
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