Helvetica 2007 NR CC

Amazon Instant Video

(100) IMDb 7.2/10

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. Helvetica encompasses the worlds of design, advertising, psychology, and communication, and invites us to take a second look at the thousands of words we see every day. Interviewees in Helvetica include some of the most illustrious and innovative names in the design world, including Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter, Massimo Vignelli, Wim Crouwel, Hermann Zapf, Neville Brody, Stefan Sagmeister, Michael Bierut, David Carson, Paula Scher, Jonathan Hoefler, Tobias Frere-Jones, Experimental Jetset, Michael C. Place, Norm, Alfred Hoffmann, Mike Parker, Bruno Steinert, Otmar Hoefer, Leslie Savan, Rick Poynor, Lars Muller, and many more.

Starring:
Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter
Runtime:
1 hour 22 minutes

Helvetica

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Gary Hustwit
Starring Erik Spiekermann, Matthew Carter
Supporting actors Rick Poynor, Wim Crouwel, Matthew Carter, Alfred Hoffmann, Mike Parker, Otmar Hoefer, Bruno Steinert, Hermann Zapf, Michael Bierut, Leslie Savan, Tobias Frere-Jones, Jonathan Hoefler, Erik Spiekermann, Neville Brody, Lars Müller, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister, David Carson
Studio Plexifilm
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 7-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

What can you really say about this movie?
Pete M
A child of modernism, Helvetica is a great entree into the world of design and typography, because everyone in that world has such strong feelings about it.
S. Smith-Peter
Very entertaining and a great movie for design buffs.
fufanuer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Ronda Davis on November 9, 2007
Format: DVD
The historical significance of the typeface as well as the on-going evolution of typography make this a must see for anyone interested in typography and graphic design, but also a fine entertainment for film enthusiasts. Compelling interviews with notable professionals are informative, witty and often hilarious. Visuals run the gamut from elegance to true grit. Kudos to Gary Hustwit and his crew for this living history before it is not longer possible.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By edgepixel on May 1, 2008
Format: DVD
I'm a working graphic designer.

I'm an art graduate. As a child, I enjoyed to look at fonts for hours - a Letraset catalogue(titled in big Helvetica letters) from the 80s was one of my (most) prized possessions.

When I first heard about this movie I was thrilled. Now that I saw it, I can say it was worth my time. The movie is smart, witty, and a pleasure to behold - an endless stream of layouts. And valuable insights, commentaries and history. Oh yes, the film is also inspirational - it makes you think about good design. It makes you desire good design, whatever that may mean today.

My favourite quote from the movie:
"The life of a designer is a life of fighting--fight against the ugliness, just like a doctor fights against disease. For us visual disease is what we have around and what we try to do is try to cure it somehow, you know, with design." Thanks Mr. Vignelli for putting things into perspective.

Given Helvetica's importance in design history, this is not a movie you should miss.

I first saw Helvetica(the font) as a child, I first acknowledged it as a high school design student, now it's one of my 3 most used fonts at work. I know it's flaws and shortcomings, and I've come to rely on it's many strengths and virtues. It's versatile, strong and straightforward. It's one you can trust. It's also got a softer side, when you come to know her better. It's an old friend of mine, that now is starring in it's own movie! Now that's something to celebrate.

Cheers, Helvetica! Cheers, old friend!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ann Makowski on November 16, 2007
Format: DVD
If so, this is the film for you. I was lucky enough to see it at the annual conference of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design - and loved it! It's accessible not only to designers but also to me - the biology major in the room. Gotta love a detailed history of something that you see every day - but may not notice.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Cedarview on May 9, 2008
Format: DVD
Even as their ideas and decisions form a big part of the visual fabric of our lives, most consumers probably don't know too much about graphic designers and the way they go about doing what they do. "Helvetica", while on the surface a documentary about the development and world domination of a particular style of lettering, was more enjoyable to me for it's glimpses into the working lives of graphic designers, some of them towering personalities in that field. Tracing the development of Helvetica from it's origins at a Swiss design firm through to it's almost universal acceptance as a typeface of choice, the film includes snippets of interviews with everyone from the most seasoned European designers who have slaved over things like typeface for 50 years to the artists at the forefront of the aptly named "grunge" design movement that was ubiquitous in magazines like Spin and Rolling Stone throughout the 1990's. The interviewees level platitudes and criticisms about aspects of style in general and typefaces in particular with ease and evident relish. A designer by the name of Beirut has a great "scenery chewing turn" where he literally lays verbal waste to the stodgy, dusty, crappy way American businesses visually marketed themselves pre-1950. Another designer lets loose a semi-bizarre rant in which she makes a connection between her distaste for the over-usage of Helvetica and the fact that she associates it with Vietnam, Republicans, People Who Voted for Reagan, Big Impersonal Corporations, and the War in Iraq. Agree with their opinions or not, I have to admit that it was great fun to see these intellectuals get their stylish spectacles all fogged up over Helvetica, which plays such a very large role in their small slice of the modern world. As an added bonus, we get to learn what "san serif" means, which is worth the price of admission.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Glenn R. Howes TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 3, 2010
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
This is a movie about the impact of the 1957 introduction of the type face Helvetica on graphic design. From its early invasion of corporate and government signage, print advertising, and logos through the inevitable (and disastrous) revolt against conformity, and into the current era of quiet ubiquity. The people who talk in the movie are nearly all graphic designers, and they speak to what the font means to them in both positive and negative ways. But, what spoke most to me was the interspersion of comment free examples of Helvetica seen in the signs and clothing of the urban environment; there is an indisputable flood and it opened my eyes to how dominant and common the font is.

What's missing for me, as a software engineer is the impact of Helvetica (and its close cousins like Geneva) on digital typography. Helvetica is one of 35 fonts which are standard to every Postscript implementation. This has been a primary mover in creating this ubiquity. And yet, this was not brought up. Surely, some designer interview could have been dropped in exchange for someone from Adobe. And what do the limitations of onscreen typography do to this cool and notoriously perfect font. And if this movie were updated today, would they mention how Helvetica is the standard font on the iPhone? But this is all about what this movie isn't.

I enjoyed the movie for what it was, my wife, who doesn't care about fonts, hated it. If you don't love type, you are likely to dislike this movie. If you love type, there is much to learn and like about this film.
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