In 2007, Gary Hustwit directed a docu film called Helvetica. The documentary tackles a topic about one of the most popular fonts of all time, Helvetica. 2007 was Helvetica’s 50th anniversary, and the docu-film was released to commemorate it. Back in 1957, the sans-serif typeface was introduced by designers Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman.
The film did an excellent job showcasing what Helvetica is. A representation of a thriving machine-age, an indicator of a growing civilization, and an ally of modern art’s impulse towards simplicity, innovation, and abstraction. The versatility of the font was showcased in shots of what a thriving society looks like. Street signs, government forms, advertisements, newspapers, magazines, and even the public transportation system, all of which use a similar font, Helvetica.
With the help of brilliant graphic designers and theorists, the film delivered the importance of the font Helvetica on human life and thought. Many people praised it as an artistic breakthrough, while others saw it as a lowest-common-denominator typeface whose use reflects and perpetuates conformity.
Unlike any blockbuster film, Helvetica targets a specific type of watcher and listener – of course, who would want to go on an 80-minute documentary about a font. This film is not for all; however, people who watched the film will tell you otherwise. During its release, the film was only featured in selected theaters across the US. Helvetica’s reviews are almost all positive, thanks to its strange but compelling direction.
As Web Designers, the film teaches the importance of looking back and reflecting on what makes the past a key to moving forward. Director Gary Hustwit’s excellent form of directing taught us that visual culture and typography have come a long way, and our mission is to preserve them so that the next generation can learn.
Helvetica is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
What do you think about the font Helvetica? Do you think it’s still one of the most versatile fonts today?
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