Helvetica, a documentary

Still from HelveticaWent to a screening of Helvetica tonight, a documentary about the typeface. That might seem like a recipe for boredom, but the omnipresent nature of the font and it’s effect on graphic design cannot be overstated. The documentary itself is an excellent example of the species: genuinely interesting interviews with some great characters from the graphic design world, woven into a narrative describing the subject. There are a remarkable number of laugh out loud moments, but overall what carries the film is the absolute passion all of the interviewees have for the subject. The Helvetica fan club is most strongly represented, but its detractors are given significant screen time to make their point. Eric Spiekermann (designer of FF Meta among others) in particular is quite a character, “Why is Helvetica so popular after 50 years?” a fleeting moment of serious contemplation then, “I don’t know, why is bad taste so ubiquitous?”

Highly recommended if you can catch a screening. It seems to be doing a roadshow right now, and the only word on a DVD release is Fall 2007.

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