Saturday, November 6, 2010


It isn’t too often that you see the labels Film and Typography juxtaposed is it? I finally got around to watching this one last night. (My wife is out of town for a few days. No way I would have gotten her to sit through this one.) I have to say it’s a really well-made and fascinating documentary—I daresay even non-graphic designers or typographers would find it interesting if they gave it a chance. (But maybe I’m just kidding myself.) Being one myself (a graphic designer, that is) I will confess that I’ve never really felt a strong attraction for this typeface, to say nothing of the adulation which it, being the ubiquitous and quintessential typographical encapsulation of the modernist movement, arouses within so many in my field. In fact, that goes a long way toward explaining why I found the film so pleasing: far from being the sort of one-dimensional encomium that I rather expected, the featured interviews with respected designers and typographers encompass the extremes of “love it” as well as “hate it”, with glimpses of the varying gradations of ambivalence which lie between. For my own part, I’ll say that in many respects my own reasons for not being in love with it were largely confirmed. (The virtual paeans offered on its behalf by the avowed disciples of modernism, lauding it as the consummately “neutral” and formless conveyor of pure and unsullied content, brought a simultaneous smile to my face and furrow to my brow. Associations with characters from C. S. Lewis’ novel That Hideous Strength kept springing to mind as I listened to some of these guys.) At the same time, and somewhat paradoxically I suppose, I have to say that my appreciation for it in some regards was enhanced. It definitely has its strong points and its place. So maybe, when all’s said and done, even as I eschew those principles which animate it, I might actually have to start using it here and there…every once in a while, at least.

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