Helvetica, directed by Gary Hustwit ★★★★
This is a film that those in the typesetting and graphic arts industry will find most interesting. When I started my career in typesetting in 1970, Helvetica was just becoming popular as a typeface. It had a sense of presence that none of the other sans serif typefaces manifested, and was useful in almost any circumstance as a headline type. This movie documents its creation in a small type foundry in Switzerland and eventually landed as the most popular, and perhaps most controversial typeface ever created. In the 1990’s it was considered to represent big corporations and capitalism, as well as the cause for the VietNam and Iraq war. Really. After the 1990s, Helvetica sustained a rescue from the avant-garde graphic designers who preferred to use type not to communicate but to express feelings. This movement led to “grunge” typefaces, handwritten type, and typeset in a fashion that did not make language communication a top priority. All of that is gone, and Helvetica lives on. The movie had interviews with many top graphic designers and type designers, all reflecting on their experience with Helvetica, and all realizing the Helvetica typeface as an unusually unique, if not perfect typeface for communication. It’s quite worth a watch if you’re into graphic arts.