Yesterday I posted a kinetic typography video called “Monkeys Love Helvetica” and this reminded me that I never actually saw the Helvetica movie, a feature length documentary about, yes, the Helvetica typeface. I immediately made up for this gross negligence and watched it that afternoon.
It was great.
A whole 80 minutes long movie of designers and typographers talking about a single typeface? Yes, indeed. Helvetica, you say? Yes. That’s that Arial-lookalike, isn’t it? No. Go watch the movie…
Helvetica is the typeface you either love or hate. For some it is the ultimate force of reason and democracy against chaos and savagery, the Apollo amongst typefaces. For others it’s an authoritarian, even slightly fascistic, sterile and soulless, mechanical, inflexible, badly designed and downright ugly reminder of modernism (which they don’t like much either). Both opinions get their fair share of advocates in the movie. People like Massimo Vignelli, Wim Crouwel, Eric Spiekerman, Neville Brody and David Carson (to new just a few) are all being interviewed and it’s great to see that, whether they are for or against Helvetica, they all talk about it with the same vigor and passion.
If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you really should. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray disc and as a download from ITunes (apparently only for Americans) or on Amazon (also for Americans). If you have the stomach for it, you can also try seeing it on youku.com (which I am told doesn’t work for Americans and it usually takes ages to load anything from there…). More info about the film and it’s author Gary Hustwit can be found here and here.
To wet your appetite, here is the trailer for the movie and a short interview with the maker.
And a load of clips from the movie for those of you who just can’t wait…