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Total Count: 17


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,344
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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 segues into a discussion with a number of acclaimed designers about their work, their creative visions and processes, and the aesthetic reasoning behind various decisions regarding font. Hustwit interviews over 20 design experts in the film, including Michael C. Place, Paula Scher, Matthew Carter, and David Carson. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Helvetica

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (2)

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

    Mar 7, 2008 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The tweaky world of typography is not perhaps as much at the heart of how we live as these designers would have us believe, but it's enjoyable to watch them rhapsodise sans serifs and spacing.

    Oct 13, 2007 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Cath Clarke

    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.

    Sep 19, 2007 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • Overlong but fascinating, Gary Hustwit's documentary posits Helvetica, a sans-serif typeface developed in 1957.

    Sep 12, 2007 | Rating: 3/5
  • Helvetica keenly distills the eternal aesthetic battle between the classical and the baroque and explores what happens when a revolution goes mainstream.

    Sep 11, 2007 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 16, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Helvetica

  • Oct 02, 2015
    The documentary is very well put-together. It traces the history and the impact of the world's most ubiquitous typeface. If you are fascinated by design and love to hear different peoples' opinions on why things work and why not, then you will enjoy Helvetica.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 02, 2014
    Surprisingly interesting film. If thinking simply about simple things is the key to insight, this is the film for you.
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 19, 2011
    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.
    Jay H Super Reviewer
  • Jan 10, 2011
    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.
    Alice S Super Reviewer

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