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Changing the world, one letter at a time…
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
95 minutes of bonus interviews English and German subtitles
Helvetica is truly a work of art. -- Austin Chronicle
One of the wittiest, most diligently researched, slyly untelligent and quietly captivating documentaries of the year. -- Time Out London
Provocative. -- NY Times
Viewers are in for an exclamation point of joy from such a well designed doc. "A -" --Entertainment Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
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!
The typeface Helvetica was created to carry the message of Modernism--simple, clear, without content of its own. Its job is get across whatever message is in the text. It can be used to tell you which is the men's room or why you should drink Coke.
Helvetica (a made-up word meant to connote "the Swiss typeface") was especially popular in Europe and in America in the 1960s and has never gone away.
But in the 1970s, because the use of Helvetica became universal in American advertising, a reaction set in--A.B.H., anything but Helvetica. Helvetica was for one American designer the typeface "behind the Vietnam War." (Judging by this documentary, American artists and designers reacted against Helvetica much more than Europeans did. Perhaps because, for Europeans after World War II, Modernism--which Helvetica represented--was already a reaction against the Romanticism in the Nazi ideology.)
A couple of the less trivial things I learned from the documentary are that few graphic designers seem to be women and that cultural stereotypes aren't dead. A German designer in the documentary said Helvetica typifies the "Swiss ideology" because every letter is like every other letter. He was a pretentious snob, but interesting to listen to. I learned more about him than about design. It reminds me of the old joke: "That's enough about me. Let's hear about you--what do YOU think about me?Read more ›
Not everyone is a fan of Helvetica, or perhaps I should say that not everyone is a fan of its ubiquity. Through interviews with 3 generations of graphic designers and type designers, "Helvetica" presents both its fans and detractors, what makes it is a truly great font, what makes it controversial, and the reasons it persists. Helvetica is the font that rescued graphic design from the kitschy chaos of the 1950s. A product of post-war idealism, Helvetica was perfect for facilitating communication in an intelligible, egalitarian way, on an international scale. It is described as: modern, clear, rational, accessible, transparent, and neutral.
By the 1970s, Helvetica had earned its share of critics. What had been revolutionary to old-school modernists seemed fascistic, boring, overused, and conformist to Baby Boomers. In rebellion against Helvetica, graphic designers sought more subjective, distinctive styles of type including illustrated, hand-drawn, and grunge typefaces. By the late 1990s, Gen Xers and their European counterparts were embracing Helvetica again, though perhaps with different goals and rationale.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I rented this documentary for a couple of bucks. I appreciate the creativity and love for symmetry that went into making this ubiquitous alphabet. Bravo!Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
This is one of my favorite movies about design. It does an incredible job tracking the popular design philosophy through out the past 80 years. Read morePublished 1 month ago by John Brennan
Fascinating to learn about something so ubiquitous and unnoticed. The people interviewed in the film were interesting characters, some admirable in the way they portrayed their... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Theodore E. Camesano
Excellent movie; so much info and lots of interesting people and points of viewPublished 1 month ago by Julia
Short but sweet. Enjoyed thoroughly learning about the love/hate relationship people have with this typeface. Truly amazing how typeface can evoke such emotion, or lack of it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Angela C. Baranowski
One of my favorite movies on design, must see for anyone interested in the subject of typography!Published 3 months ago by Jules
Love this movie. Probably the sixth time I've seen it. I wish I could find a movie about Garamond.Published 3 months ago by Kevin