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« Helvetica: Full Film on Google Video (Removed) | Main | Year in Review: 2007 »

Helvetica: The Movie


The film begins with a close up of a typographer's hands, selecting metal type from a case, building a line of type for an old-school proof press.

I'm talking about Gary Hustwit's film Helvetica, a gorgeous documentary about a typeface's birth and cultural impact.

Helvetica features beautiful filmwork, an interesting storyline, fascinating interviews and a killer soundtrack. It's a joy to watch Hustwit blend visuals, sound and voice into a compelling story of one typeface's impact on our culture.

I love the wide selection of interviewees Hustwit chooses — old-school and young gun designers, typographers and design critics, those who love Helvetica and those who abhor it. The film's broad spectrum of voices provides a full picture of Helvetica, the neutral Swiss typeface that somehow draws out extreme opinions.

See this film! See it even if you aren't a designer, but especially if you're a designer.

You'll gain insight into the making of a typeface. You'll gain a deeper understanding of how fundamentally typography shapes design, advertising, street signs, packaging: even common items like government forms. You'll be surprised.

For a taste of the film, here's an 8 minute selection of clips for your viewing pleasure:

Helvetica is available at Netflix or Amazon and directly from the Helvetica Shop.

Check it out! You won't be disappointed. :-)

Reader Comments (6)

Now this is an amazing coincidence, because only last night I watched the BBC TV show "Imagine" that I'd recorded months ago that was a slightly shortened version of this film! As you say, a very enjoyable film.

I found it particularly interesting to hear Massimo Vignelli talking about Helvetica and about how in his opinion the designer shouldn't really spend any time on typeface selection or design. Since watching the programme last night I've found myself increasingly aware of just how much Helvetica is used everywhere!
January 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Topley
The BBC showed a slightly truncated version of this brilliant film last year and now you have reminded me that I need to buy the full version!

I've always been fascinated by type from my early days of loathing Arial and not knowing why to the last year or so where I have started taking the time to learn more about type and typography.

What amazed me in watching Helvetica is just how many MAJOR corporations use Helvetica as their corporate typeface.

A great introduction to Typography from a historical standpoint is the book Type: The Secret History of Letters by Simon Loxley - wonderful.

January 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Hughes
I never knew Helvetica stirred so many feelings.

I had some hostile feelings towards Comic Sans MS but I joined a support group that meets every second Thursday. I am feeling a little better now but, man, it was hard for a while..
January 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCollin
David & John, you guys are so lucky to have the BBC! :-)

Collin, I love it! :-)

I think it would be a blast to see some designer do a mockumentary of Helvetica, but on Comic Sans. Oh, that would be so good. Maybe I need to speak to my friend VideoVillian about that idea... hmm...

January 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
That's great! Now it stayed a question on air. When this is going to arrive film in Brazil?!
February 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRubens Fernando
I wonder if you can get the DVD in Brazil? It would probably be region 1, though maybe there are players? As for theater screenings, good question -- email the Helvetica film website! :-)
February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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