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Helvetica, the film at WRT: Writer Response Theory



Helvetica, the film


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Hel-Fucking-Vetica t-shirt

The long-awaited (yes, seriously) film on the font (its more than that) Helvetica is out. The documentary created by Gary Hustwit, has been years in the making. It looks at both the positive and negative arguments around the popular font.

Some info about the font:

Helvetica was developed by Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann in 1957 for the Haas Type Foundry in Münchenstein, Switzerland. In the late 1950s, the European design world saw a revival of older sans-serif typefaces such as the German face Akzidenz Grotesk. Haas’ director Hoffmann commissioned Miedinger, a former employee and freelance designer, to draw an updated sans-serif typeface to add to their line. The result was called Neue Haas Grotesk, but its name was later changed to Helvetica, derived from Helvetia, the Latin name for Switzerland, when Haas’ German parent companies Stempel and Linotype began marketing the font internationally in 1961.

Introduced amidst a wave of popularity of Swiss design, and fueled by advertising agencies selling this new design style to their clients, Helvetica quickly appeared in corporate logos, signage for transportation systems, fine art prints, and myriad other uses worldwide. Inclusion of the font in home computer systems such as the Apple Macintosh in 1984 only further cemented its ubiquity.

Some info about the film:

Helvetica is a feature-length independent film about typography, graphic design and global visual culture. It looks at the proliferation of one typeface (which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year) as part of a larger conversation about the way type affects our lives.

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.

I haven’t seen the film, but look forward to it. For those who can’t wait either, there are some clips online and great film posters too. There have been numerous screenings at major film festivals with some great font-fury events. For instance, Joe Clark ran an Arial-hating protest and there is a Love or Hate Helvetica contest. At WRT, we are not surprised to see such time, effort and emotion around a font, because We Respect Text.

Check out: http://www.helveticafilm.com/

Picture credit: Joe Clark’s pic and t-shirt [source]



4 Responses to “Helvetica, the film”

  1. 1 nick

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    I just saw the Philadelphia premiere of the film. It was put together quite well and featured amusing comments from many famous type designers and typographers. While there were lyrical discussions of the virtues of the font, some of the anti-Helvetica rants were particularly good: David Carson was hilarious, as was Erik Spiekermann. Perhaps the most remarkable presence in the film was that of the venerable Hermann Zapf, although he didn’t say anything interesting.

  2. 2 Christy Dena

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    I still haven’t seen it! So thankyou Nick for dropping by and sharing that info.

  3. 3 Lara

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    I just saw the Philadelphia premiere of the film. It was put together quite well and featured amusing comments from many famous type designers and typographers. While there were lyrical discussions of the virtues of the font, some of the anti-Helvetica rants were particularly good: David Carson film izlewas hilarious, as was Erik Spiekermann. Perhaps the most remarkable presence in the film was that of the venerable Hermann Zapf, although he didn’t say anything interesting.

  1. 1 reqfd.net / too busy. send sleep.

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