Helvetica | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper


Gary Hustwit’s documentary celebrates the sans-serif typeface debuted by a Swiss designer 50 years ago.

People who are into fonts and typefaces are often quite passionate about the designs' effect on aesthetics and perception. The rest of us don't notice -- at least not consciously. This film might change your mind. Hustwit (I Am Trying to Break Your Heart) examines the impact that this reputedly "neutral" typeface has had in the design world -- the many corporate names that use Helvetica include Jeep, Target, Panasonic and American Airlines -- and by extension upon us all. ((You likely use its imitator, "Arial.") The film is a clean and precise as Helvetica itself. In a few neat strokes, he sketches the typeface's origins and its ubiquity, as well as the irresolvable dilemma it's inspired. What ensues is a surprisingly lively debate from supporters and detractors, who fervently adopt positions on the typeface as polar as "socialist" and "war-mongering." It's all good think-y, provocative fun that'll have you re-examining every road sign on your way home. Mon., Jan. 7, through Thu., Jan. 10. Harris

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