Last night I went to see the movie Helvetica at the ICA. A movie about the ubiquitous typeface (if you don’t think you know it then you might know the cheap knock off Arial). Once you know what you’re looking for you will see it everywhere (hint: the a and e are the easiest ways to identify it). So an important typeface is 50 years old, but is the movie any good?
I very much enjoyed it. The design gurus interviewed were just as crackers as you need to keep the thing moving along. In fact there were quite a few laughs in the sold out cinema – mostly people were laughing at the obsessiveness of the type designers. The only question I had afterwards was one of how different the film would have been if a different typeface had been the star? The film’s main interest was in these crazy characters of the world of type and they would have happily spouted forth on any font. I think the film maker was wise to hang the film on a specific typeface though as it did ground the piece, I just don’t think in that in the end Helvetica was the star of the movie.
After the movie one of my friends, Anna said that she’d enjoyed it but that it made her feel a little dirty. I think she felt that because there were these obsessives revealing the details of their secret world. I loved the obsessiveness of it all. It certainly stuck a chord with me and the way Adrian and I approach our work.
All in all an interesting film. Should you see it?