Saturday, March 28, 2009

Film Review: "Helvetica"

I had been made aware of the wonder of the Helvetica font from a graphic designer friend years ago.  His feelings about this simple and versatile font ranged from that of reverence to an all out fetish.  I was told of the symmetry, versatility, and beauty of the font.  As time when on I found a pattern with all my graphic design friends.... whenever asked about fonts they talked about Helvetica like it was some sort of cult.  They talked about the font like it was more of something you believe in, instead of just a typeface.  As a fellow designer I understand the power of print, but didn't hold Helvetica in the same elevated status.... I just didn't get it.  What do I know.  

Then came, "Helvetica", the documentary film by Gary Hustwit.  The film sheds some light on the development of one of the most successful and prolific fonts of the last 50 years.  The film artfully points out how this simple typeface can be the voice of everything from street signs to The Gap and virtually everything descriptive and stylish in between.  Once you are tuned into this fact you feel like you just can't escape from the ever-reaching grasp of Helvetica.  This is a great film for anyone interested in the power of design to shape our graphic world.  And, no, to rent the DVD do you not have to sign up for some graphic design cult or drink any font-cult koolaid. 

*Check out some film stills showing off how the font is everywhere at the right.


Anonymous said...

Got your comment. I've heard about this film, but I haven't seen it yet. It seems really awesome. A friend of mine also saw Objectified, this great documentary about design by director Gary Hustwit, at SXSW. I really need to see both of these.

Gabrielle said...

Hey Ryan!

I heard about Objectified, but did realize it's out already. SXSW usually gets a lot of early viewings for new films...yet another reason I need to go to SXSW next year!

jameskfung said...

Also as a designer, i totally agree with your perception of Helvetica. It's a beautiful font no question, but I think it's also been given this "godlike" quality by many that makes it overrated.

Great blog!