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.
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★★★★ review by Jackson Tyler on Letterboxd
Turns a movie about the history of a font into a study of the subliminal, of individualism, of unity, of what it's like to be obsessed with minutia, of old vs new, of modern culture, of being more aware of the world around you and ALSO about the theory of designing a font.
It's not the best documentary ever, but it's a well constructed film and a damn impressive feat.
★★★★ review by skype jonze on Letterboxd
murder me but i love helvetica
★★★½ review by gabriel guimarães on Letterboxd
Well yeah, I'm surprised that a doc featuring white people being excited over fonts is actually insightful and interesting. It's nothing mind-blowing but I'll be paying more attention to how we use letters in advertisement and media. Probably would've liked this better if I was into design, though.
★★★★★ review by Alec J on Letterboxd
I am a typographer, and so this movie speaks lovingly to a very specialized, nerdy part of myself. I'm not sure I'd necessarily recommend that those not interested in type watch this, but it certainly would give uninterested parties a glimpse into a world they may never have thought about.
★★★½ review by Mike Harding on Letterboxd
I'm always amazed at how many people with no design or typographic tendencies enjoy this documentary, and this alone is a testament to how well Hustwit put together the range of talking heads. He plays them off one another, but also sequences them in a way that doesn't lose the linear narrative following Helvetica's progression from initial creation to global ubiquity. Most enjoyable are the extreme opinions on show (the ranting Spiekermann being a standout).
This is my second viewing of Helvetica. The first was at a local film festival screening (after which the director, Gary Hustwit, answered some questions for the audience), and upon rewatching it I realised how much my enjoyment of the film was also influenced by experiencing it in that setting; surrounded by a mix of type nerds, designers and the purely curious, the film projected up large on the big screen and a good-natured crowd laughing in all the right places. So while I still enjoyed it second time around, it was never going to live up to that first night unfortunately (though my rating still stands).
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