March 27, 2004

Kubrickorama

If you have ever watched a Stanley Kubrick film agape and wondered about the genius behind it, drop everything now and read Jon Ronson's account of his troll through the archives on the Kubrick estate in today's Guardian. It's a landmark article. I have to excerpt my favorite bit:

I take a break from the boxes to wander over to [Kubrick assistant] Tony's office. As I walk in, I notice something pinned to his letterbox. "POSTMAN," it reads. "Please put all mail in the white box under the colonnade across the courtyard to your right."

It is not a remarkable note except for one thing. The typeface Tony used to print it is exactly the same typeface Kubrick used for the posters and title sequences of Eyes Wide Shut and 2001. "It's Futura Extra Bold," explains Tony. "It was Stanley's favourite typeface. It's sans serif. He liked Helvetica and Univers, too. Clean and elegant."

"Is this the kind of thing you and Kubrick used to discuss?" I ask.

"God, yes," says Tony. "Sometimes late into the night. I was always trying to persuade him to turn away from them. But he was wedded to his sans serifs."

Tony goes to his bookshelf and brings down a number of volumes full of examples of typefaces, the kind of volumes he and Kubrick used to study, and he shows them to me. "I did once get him to admit the beauty of Bembo," he adds, "a serif."

"So is that note to the postman a sort of private tribute from you to Kubrick?" I ask.

"Yeah," says Tony. He smiles to himself. "Yeah, yeah."
Felix, I want your site in Futura Extra Bold/Bembo by Tuesday.

Posted by Stefan at 10:24 AM GMT
Comments
#1

Helvetica? I knew the man was overrated, but bad taste in fonts? Next thing you find will be a paen to Comic Sans.

Helvetica, a font created for people who hate reading and want an excuse to stop.

Palantino Rules

Posted by: Alan Kellogg on March 28, 2004 04:00 AM
#2

Yeah I thought it was a great article too - lucky bastard Ronson getting that one. I loved the description of the Napoleon room - shame that film never got made. I have the dubious connection of having worked with one of the twins from the Shining for a few years. She was very scary and looked just like she looked in the film. She once made a pass at me after a Christmas party - came over to me in the office and sat on my lap: made me feel suicidal. I had a colleague who used to pull great faces when she emerged from the lift in our building with her twin, truly frightening.

Posted by: Jez on March 29, 2004 02:45 PM