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Typeface

na , Justine Nagan  |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: na
  • Directors: Justine Nagan
  • Format: Anamorphic, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Kartemquin Films
  • DVD Release Date: July 16, 2010
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003SHVY5M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,629 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Review

One can almost smell the fresh ink drying on paper... Justine Nagan has a brilliant career as a filmmaker ahead of her. --Paul Young, Smile Politely

It's a well-crafted film, with human characters that are funny and sad, lovely camera work and taut editing... a movie that's equally appealing to art school hipsters and to lovers of rural America. --Susan Troller, The Capital Times

Typeface makes wood type and letterpress artistry look cool, even sexy. --Movie Morlocks.com, Official TCM blog

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
(8)
4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This interesting documentary covers two parallel stories at once - and adds a third one that will be of interest to graphic designers.

The small (population 13,000) town of Two Rivers, Wisconsin - which prides itself on being the Home of the Ice Cream Sundae, the economy has taken it's toll. It's largest employer - the Hamilton Wood Type Company - closed up shop years ago. Over it's history the company under priced its competitors and bought them up. Then it went out of business. Al, that remains is the huge factory. And the townsfolk turned it into a Museum, with a sole "Director". But Two Rivers is not on any major route so no one knows about it. On a good week, maybe 20 visitors come by, not much to use to pay the Director. The Town Council creates three more small museums but it's the ice cream sundaes that bring in the only real money ($500+ in a week!).

Director Justine Nagan follows the two parallel stories of the underused museum and the town losing its residents. But there is a third story and that is the history of the sign printing industry and how young graphic designers, trained on modern PCs are going back to the "roots" of the industry. A professor of Art Design at Purdue University in Indiana makes the 3-hour-plus journey to Two Rivers to teach students in how to use the amazing amount of graphically-interesting wooden type pieces in modern design. We meet a co-op of young artists who are spending time manually setting the typeface to recreate old posters. And there is a discussion of whether the painstaking work required to manually set the wooden type is superior than what I computer program can do.

The film is just over an hour and I found it interesting to watch. The bonus features consist of about 11 deleted scenes, which expand on the film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Artistic and wonderful November 29, 2010
By CassieW
Format:DVD
Justine Nagan takes us deep inside the the lost craftsmanship of the print-age in this beautifully edited film. By focusing on one quaint museum in rural America, this film gives us more than a history of wood type, it delights us with a comprehensive sense of the soul and passion poured into this craft.

Typeface prompts the viewer to take a break from our chaotic world, to observe, to savor, and to simply appreciate. Full of textures, flaws and wrinkles, the ambiance of this film will invite you to reach out and touch, and even to lean close and sniff. Even a person not interested in the history of wood type will appreciate the characters and feelings in this wonderful film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Explores a dying art form July 9, 2011
Format:DVD
Judge Mike Rubino, DVD Verdict--Typeface, a one-hour PBS documentary by Justine Nagan, explores a dying art form once responsible for America's most unique advertisements. The documentary situates itself at the wood type Mecca, the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Hamilton being the largest wood type manufacturer for quite some time, it now houses a massive museum collection in danger of extinction.

The documentary is less about the printing process (although it does cover some of that), and more about the rise and fall and current revival of wooden type and manual printing methods. Once all the rage in the 19th Century, Hamilton soon found itself outpaced by new printing methods and shifting industry trends. The museum, run by a staff of one (maybe a few others if you count the retirees), enjoys something like 20 visitors a month. Most of them are folks like me: graphic designers interested in the ways things were, prior to Adobe and Bezier pen tools.

For a designer, the story of Hamilton, the museum, and the folks that work there, is fascinating. Their day-to-day operations, the professors that visit there, and the print shops that still employ those techniques are all here to geek-out over. Typeface isn't, however, as accessible or as well put-together as something like Helvetica. The personal interest stuff is an afterthought, and I never felt a real connection to any of the "characters"--short of maybe the curator who doesn't like to make prints. There isn't very much of a story arc; Hamilton is in trouble, but its story of possible bankruptcy doesn't have a sense of urgency or doom. Instead, the documentary trudges forward, making things like the historical society board meetings merely a footnote in the warehouse's fate. There's not really a bigger picture here, and unlike feature-length design documentaries, this PBS film is a niche product.
Full review at dvdverdict.com
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tensions in the hipster aesthetic October 3, 2011
Format:DVD
This documentary is, on the surface, about the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, but really it's about tensions in the hipster aesthetic. Wood type is an excellent subject because it is the epitome of the authentic - it is relatively difficult to use, has a natural grain, and is a dying art form. Many graphic designers are drawn to it, but also need to make a living. That's where the opposite of wood type comes in - polymer. Polymer is absolutely inauthentic as a medium, being quite literally plastic, but it can be made in any size and can help letterpress artists make a living.

The documentary explores the tension between authenticity and convenience, between the need to be true to one's self and one's hipster identity and the need to make a living.

One of the interesting subthemes of the movie is the contrast between the way the original workers at the Hamilton factory interact with the type and the way the hipsters do. For the workers, wood type was a way of making a living, not primarily a means of expression. For the hipsters, this is reversed.

This is a fascinating documentary and one I'd recommend to a wide audience.
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