I imagine the movie pitch sounding something like this:
“I know… let’s make a movie about one of the most popular fonts in the world. That’s right – typography. No, no, no… hear me out – we’ll lay out the premise that the choice of font is a form of expression. That it influences the way that we speak to and “read” the world. We’ll tie it in with socio-economics and show people the subtle power a simple font can have in their lives.”
Umm… ok. And yet… it works. I’m talking about the movie “Helvetica”, which has been one of the movies that I’ve watched while trying to rid myself of this cruddy cold.
I really enjoyed this film – it was informative and engaging, filled with interviews with prominent typographers (I didn’t even know there was such a discipline) who clearly love what they do. In the film, they tell the story of Helvetica – the very well known font that came about in the move to modernism in the 60s. It has become so ubiquitous as to be one of the “default” types that we probably don’t even realize how many times we see it daily. The filmmakers deftly draw us in and get us to think about the use of things like fonts and other aspects of graphic design in our own lives.
Honestly, I’d never really thought about fonts that much. About why we choose one over the other. In my life there have been two periods of choice – one was the typewriter (yes, I’m old enough to have used one…) which you could say came in one font, and the computer, which of course has dozens to hundreds of different fonts to choose from. In fact, now that I think about it… Helvetica shares a special spot in my heart because I chose to write my PhD dissertation in it. Why? I thought it looked “new and clean and professional” – there you go, self-expression through choice of font.
If you’re interested in printing, communication or graphic design, I highly recommend it.