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08 APRIL 2011

The typography of Jean-Luc Godard

"To me watching the films of Jean–Luc Godard is like watching a white Rauschenberg painting or listing to John Cage's '4:33': it isn't something I do for entertainment. They're historically significant because he broke all the rules in the book, but I just don't enjoy watching them. Since I only add titles from films I've seen myself there weren't many Godard films present in the Movie title stills collection.

On december 3rd, Atelier Carvalho Bernau released a free typeface to celebrate Godard's 80th birthday. The typeface was inspired by the title sequences of Godard's 'Made in U.S.A' (1966) and '2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle' (1967). When I started googling I found surprisingly few stills or videos from Godard's films, that's why I decided to add the most interesting ones to the Movie title stills collection.

I've located almost all films from the earlier part of Godard's career and took all stills containing typography: titles from the opening title sequences, intertitles and end ('Fin') titles. Like silent films Godard used lots of intertitles, which make his films much more typographic than other films from the '60s and 70's.

It's quite interesting to see the designs evolve. In this digital age it's refreshing to see type that isn't made on a computer: the imperfect and handmade look of the letterforms, the bad kerning, the large gaps between letters and words, the justified blocks of text, the awkwardly dotted capital I's. Even when he used an existing typeface – like Antique Olive in 'Week end' (1967) – the letterforms look as if they were cut out with an Exacto knife.

Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1980) is the last film featuring custom typefaces. In his later films Godard used existing typefaces like Futura, Univers, Helvetica and Garamond."

(Christian Annyas, 16 December 2010)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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