Fonts on Film

April 5, 2007 | By Ross McLain | Creative

To any non-design-aware types, the fact that the new documentary Helvetica, about a Swiss typeface that is turning 50 (a fact also celebrated in a new exhibition at MOMA, “50 Years of Helvetica”), is enjoying sold-out screenings basically everywhere it goes may seem a little odd. But designers and design-o-philes on whom the ubiquity and, well, hegemonic rule of that little font for almost all of those 50 years is not lost probably don’t think it so strange.


Smart, sharp, elegant, reserved, refined…the quiet type (n.p.i.) – understated yet profoundly powerful. Typography is sexy. Typefaces, ligatures, kerning, positioning, descenders and ascenders….hot stuff. Finally it seems that typography is having it’s day in the sun, getting the long overdue recognition it deserves on the silver screen. Be sure that many more will be jumping on the bandwagon of appreciation now that it’s ok to admit you like it without being jeered into quiescence and castigated to the corner with the other freaks & geeks. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if font-knowledge and appreciation becomes a status symbol, the new calling card of sensitivity and sophistication, like ordering a Ketel One was about 7 years ago.

And for those already hip to the nerd hotness quotient, I would suspect that these screenings (assuming you can get into one – the upcoming screening at USC sold out in 1 day at $25 bucks a pop), will be a hotbed of nerdy hotties. Get your nerd on.

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