by Ed Driscoll
While I was flying back from New York City a couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to watching the DVD of the 2007 movie Helvetica. Simply put, this is The Greatest Movie Ever Made About a Type Font, but then, the roster of this cinematic genre wouldn’t take all that long to assemble. (Hopefully someone is shooting Font Wars: The Zapf Dingbats Strike Backeven as we speak.)
Helvetica certainly does a fun job of explaining its titular subject’s history, and interviewing those who have used it in design work from the late 1950s through the present day. But to better place the font into context, it helps to go back a few decades from when it was first created in 1957, to understand the design world in which it functioned, its architectural ideals, and the politics from which those aesthetics flowed.