Helvetica (2007)

Helvetica

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


Movie Info

In 2005 a number of provocative, award-winning ads appeared that touted the Helvetica font; Gary Hustwit explores the subject protractedly with his feature-length essay film Helvetica. The documentary, produced in 2007 (and thus commemorating the typeface's 50th anniversary), uses the omnipresent font as a lens through which it examines contemporary visual culture and how typeface is used, aesthetically, spatially, and culturally, to impart shape and character to urban environments. Hustwit then … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 20, 2007
Runtime:

News & Interviews for Helvetica

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.

Login

Critic Reviews for Helvetica

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (9)

Helvetica is one of those rare films in which the exploration of a specific topic leads to expanding horizons of perception.

Full Review… | March 7, 2008
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Even viewers who've never given a serif a second thought are in for an exclamation point of joy from such a well-designed doc.

Full Review… | September 19, 2007
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Overlong but fascinating, Gary Hustwit's documentary posits Helvetica, a sans-serif typeface developed in 1957.

September 12, 2007
New York Times
Top Critic

Helvetica keenly distills the eternal aesthetic battle between the classical and the baroque and explores what happens when a revolution goes mainstream.

Full Review… | September 11, 2007
Village Voice
Top Critic

The computer revolution may have democratized graphic design, letting anyone decorate his own desktop or MySpace page, but a certain amount of conformity is necessary for society to function.

Full Review… | June 16, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A splendid documentary about one typeface, designed in 1957 in Switzerland.

Full Review… | June 15, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Helvetica

½

Surprisingly interesting film. If thinking simply about simple things is the key to insight, this is the film for you.

cchclaw
Christian C

Super Reviewer

½

Typeface designer Jonathan Hoefler, one of the many interviewees for this film, compares Helvetica, the font, in the film's introduction to off-white paint. No one really notices or cares about it. In terms of describing the average person's attitude toward the font, he couldn't have been more right.

The film starts out well enough, explaining typography and its nuances. Typography is, indeed, a mildly interesting topic. But that's not what the film is about. The film was simply a random potpourri of interviews with graphic designers and typeface designers who had varying opinions and different cute little metaphors to describe Helvetica. Between these interviews were rather random shots of Helvetica in everyday life.

That's fine and all, but listening to a typeface designer talk about his or her feelings toward Helvetica is like listening to a physics professor explain the aerodynamics of a football or listening to a linguist talk about the mouth's creation of various phonemes--it's really not interesting unless it's a subject you actually enjoy. And typeface design is a fairly dry subject.

This film might have worked better as a short documentary. It's a very narrow subject around which to create 80 minutes of film, and that becomes clear about halfway through. If you're into typeface or graphic design, you may enjoy this film. But if you're an average individual with average interests and hobbies, this film will eventually lull you to sleep.

rjayhutchinson
Jay Hutchinson

Super Reviewer

½

My lukewarm reception of this documentary may be due to the fact that I abhor the eponymous font itself. I'm loath to use sans serifs anyway, but Helvetica really just makes me feel yuck.

Perhaps I'm not in this movie's target audience. It seems interesting and well-researched enough for designers in the industry. I do wonder, though, what exactly counts as Helvetica? Any blocky sans serif? Several different examples in the movie look very different from each other.

aliceinpunderland
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

Helvetica Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Helvetica on our Movie forum!