nakedness tonight

Most discussion of type in film centers on anachronisms — how could characters in a movie set in the thirties read materials set in a typeface designed in the sixties — that sort of thing. Or you hear “I loved the credits typeface, what was it?” (The folks at typophile.com always know the answer.) Rarely is a movie discussed for the way it integrates type into the film itself, as Mark Simonson has done with the Royal Tanebaums. Simonson notes that director Wes Anderson’s use of Futura throughout that film “borders on obsession.” The typeface, in various forms, appears:

  • on buses
  • on hospital signage
  • on a cruise line
  • on museum signage
  • on posters
  • on books

I wonder what the significance of this type choice is. The original Futura was a pretty radical face, geometric and minimalist — Paul Renner sought to reduce letter forms to a sort of underlying essence. The result was crisp and cutting, if a bit difficult to read at times. Futura is also a broad type family, with the essential forms expressed in a multiplicity of weights and styles.

All of which seems compatible with Wes Anderson’s own style, and the ubiquity of Futura in the movie is a good example of a typeface supporting a certain tone in a work even if most people, on the conscious level, might not notice how it’s being used.