Rating: 4/4 (Clean and delicious typeface porn!)
When was the last time you walked out after watching a movie and the familiar world outside looked strangely new, interesting and fascinating? The documentary Helvetica directed by Gary Hustwit can have that effect on you! Helvetica is as much about the influence of typefaces in our daily life as it is about the history, effect and prevalence of this particular typeface. The documentary was created for the 50th anniversary of the now-omnipresent Helvetica typeface. Starting from its Swiss-German origins the documentary follows this typeface down to the 60s when it really explodes in use for brands, signage and advertisements in the Modernism age. It takes a bit of a backseat during Postmodernism that follows and rebounds back once Apple and PC computers become popular. Thankfully, the movie is not just about the Helvetica typeface, though that is the protagonist. It also treats the viewer to passionate discussions about typefaces in particular and design in general by some of the most brilliant typeface and graphic designers of the world. We hear the Modernist camp sing peans of Helvetica and the post-Modernists tear it up for its conformity and soporific qualities.
And let us be frank, this documentary is also pure typeface porn! It is full of beautiful urban photographic shots depicting the use of Helvetica and other fonts. These delicious moments were pure joy to watch and especially so since these are the kind of abstract photos I enjoy to see and capture. The documentary also infused me with a bit of gyaan on the difference between Modernism and Postmodernism in art and design. I was finally able to figure out which camp I belonged to. Though I can appreciate chaotic and rebellious colors and fonts, my principal taste lies with crisp typefaces, clean lines, wide spaces and minimal usage of colors. Yeah, I discovered that I am a Modernist! If you appreciate good design, art, fonts, websites, Helvetica is a documentary that is not to be missed!