Marja-Leena Rathje
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Helvetica, a 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 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 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. The film was shot in high-definition on location in the United States, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium. It is currently in post-production and is slated to begin screening at film festivals worldwide starting in early 2007."

It sounds quite interesting, or is it just for nerds? I think one of my artist friends, who is very knowledgeable about type, may find it quite fascinating. Set in the context of global visual culture, the film should appeal to artists and graphic designers - I admit to being intrigued.

Check out the interesting links at the Helvetica website. Thanks to Luksus, (a Finnish blog mostly written in English about art and design in Finland and around the world) and the Canadian mirabilis. I hope we get to see this film in Canada.

(Image above is my spontaneous and unprofessional little play with Helvetica in Photoshop. Graphic designers need not be too critical, please.)

Marja-Leena | 15/08/2006 | 10 comments
themes: Films, Neat stuff


Well, I will just HAVE to see this - I can't imagine how many linear feet of Helvetica I have speced in my design career!

I too would see the film, mostly out of morbid curiosity about how such a grimly anorexic typeface became so dominant.

Haha got that right, Dave.

I'm going to pass this on to my fellow design nerds & geeks. I bet my typography instructors already know about it!

Beth, yikes! And not the nicest of fonts either, though I'm sure you worked with many different ones.

Dave, I agree! I never select this one when I'm writing on the computer, but there are many others I dislike even more. I wish I could use Zapfino on my blog, heh!

The history of font design for old-style printing is rather interesting though, what little I've read. Such a change now with computerized printing, but font development still continues. Amazing, the finer points of this specialty.

Erika, I thought you'd find this one interesting!

Before the proliferation of all these digital typefaces, way back in the early 70s Helvetica was great for educational children's books. Echoes of a past life, but a film I must see. Thank you for the information.

Omega, you worked in publishing for many years, so this film would really interest you! Please let me know what you think of it when you've seen it.

I remember reluctantly choosing a question on my final bibliography paper eons ago which asked for the evolution & influence of sans serif type - If I recall correctly it started in Germany in the 1800's, then on to Gill the 'humanist', then the more geometric Helvetica and Univers in the fifties. See, I haven't forgotten it all, I'm quite chuffed. I'm off to watch the movie.....

Hi Anna, now that's an interesting subject of study and neat to remember in this digital age as the old lead types are going fast out of use, except by some artisans and artists. Let me know what you think of the movie after you've seen it.

Keep up the great work on your blog. Best wishes WaltDe

Thanks, Walt, for dropping by!