i so recommend you get helvetica on dvd. yes it's a documentary about a font. a fine fine fine documentary that designers and non will love. intoxicating and precious. did i mention helvetica is possibly the most ubiquitous font in your life? from corporate logos (american apparel, sears, american airlines, staples) to signs (no pissing on sidewalk, please smoke here, don't stop) to famous as hell posters to magazine titles to the side of the space shuttle, it's so everywhere. the film is simultaneously about that which defies yet begs observation. something omnipresent yet unnoticed.
once post wwii optimist modern, then something to rebel against (paula scher of hand illustrated font fame is my favorite in that respect), then something inspiring in both its limitations and possibilities. the insights from the myriad designers and typographers are fascinating. you actually get to see zapf of zapf dingbats fame - it's a real guy - as well as those who knew helvetica's creators and pull out original notes and mockups (make the s thicker here).
bet you didn't know it was a modern update of a 19th century german font called (in english) accidents grotesque. bet you did know that extended montages of uses of helvetica in public life are fascinating. i saw it so many times today it made a nothing day suddenly seem worthwhile...mary tyler moore theme song anyone? one of my favorite observations was how those knowledgeable about / obsessed with type can find flaws in historical movies, i.e. "hey the font on that storefront in that pearl harbor epic wasn't invented until 1993, snap!" helvetica evinces pure fascination and offers surpising visual intrigue. if font is the same, yet used in so many contexts, is more emphasis placed on content? the film functions on multiple levels (a doc within a doc about these people who are so obsessed with a font - um, these people are me). so after it i saw it i had to make this super quick. i've got to do something between quarters at design school.