The design team at Pentagram just announced the release of The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox: A Film by Wes Anderson Based on the Book by Roald Dahl (amazon payola link). This companion book goes behind the scenes of Anderson’s new stop-motion movie opening soon. A movie which I am excited to see – watch Fantastic Mr. Fox trailers, and agree with me.
I hate to say this, but Pentagram screwed up.
Wes Anderson tends to use similar themes, actors and cinematography throughout his body of work, creating a distinct visual style. To the point, Anderson like Stanley Kubrick, only uses the Futura type family in his movies.
For me, the genius of using Futura is that the typeface is a bit of a cypher; depending on how you use it, say when you need to typeset a sign, you can evoke either a vaguely old or futuristic feeling. This is especially useful in a film setting when you can add physical context around that sign, to reinforce that feeling. The opening title in Star Wars, the famous
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… does the same thing. It sets the scene.
Anderson uses Futura in the same manner, with most of his movies set vaguely in the past – or at least an alternative present.
So to see another typeface on a work which has Wes Anderson’s byline on it is shocking. And jarring.
Pentagram should have, and must have, known this. So why the odd decision to typeset the cover in, what looks to be, Baskerville? A typeface developed in the 18th century? Let’s give the benefit of a doubt and say that they knew Anderson’s use of Futura, but were forced by some other reason to use a serif typeface.
Some have wrote in that the choice of type was to try to replicate the original Roald Dahl typography. I thought about the Roald Dahl angle, but from Pentagram’s and Amazon’s write-up, it is clear that this book illustrates Wes Anderson’s vision of the movie, complete with “making of” images, footage stills, etc.
29 Nov 09 Update
Pentagram’s blog (which is quite nice btw) has
The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox update full of nice photos and this gem:
Wes Anderson was closely involved in the book design. He provided Hyland with his starting point, the book Truffaut by Truffaut, and worked in conjunction with the Pentagram team, approving overall structure, layouts and use of font.
Interesting that Anderson approved the typography according to Pentagram.