Trend Alert!

The movie posters for both Doubt and the new Sin Nombre combine two fonts in their logos: one blackletter-style font and one sans serif. The two fonts are so drastically different that the contrast is striking and the letterforms suggest a clash of the old and the new.

Sin Nombre (a new film already inspiring comparisons to City of God) uses Linotext for its blackletter-style font and Doubt (the kids just can't get enough of these brooding church dramas these days!) uses Goudy Text. These fonts are late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century updates of the blackletter font style that was popular from about 1150 to 1500. Linotext and Goudy Text add legibility to this antiquated style for modern audiences who don't normally sit down by the fireside to read a few passages from Gutenberg's 42 line Bible.

When I first saw the poster for Doubt, I was pleasantly surprised that a thoughtful graphic design treatment had been used, because most film posters are mere Photoshop Disasters. The difference between the two posters is that it's thematically powerful for Doubt to have a font with Biblical associations in its design (although I'd rather do math homework in the hottest layer of Hell than watch Meryl Streep scowl in a nun's habit for two hours). The application of the concept in Sin Nombre's design seems less relevant, although clearly sin is a theme in the film.

Anyways, I guess this isn't really a 'trend' yet; so far it's merely an incident of one designer ripping off the Doubt design. I'll be damned if there isn't more to come, though.


Becky said...

It's interesting because, being totally ignorant of fonts, when I see the Doubt one I think of like the book of Kells or some old calligraphy bible, and when I see Sin Nombre I think about tattoo lettering on the bodies of the gang bangers I work with. Weird to think they are both drawing from the same source but it makes sense I guess if you think about it historically. For this reason though, it seems specific to the themes of these two films and not evidence of a larger trend. Not that I even knew there were font trends, really.

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

You're right Becky, the use of the old Blackletter style fonts is relevant to the subject matter of these two films. The trend I have written about is that designers have taken those fonts and combined them with a modern font to form a single word. It's unusual - you wouldn't write your name by typing 'B' in Times New Roman and then switching to Helvetica to type the rest, would you?

And I'm sure it's quite dull for most people, but yes, trends in typographical style come and go and the best place to look out for them is on mass transit or television commercials. My pet peeve right now is when designers take a two word title, remove the space between the words, and render one word in bold to differentiate it visually.

Anyway, thanks for commenting!