As is often the case with any artist whose work goes mainstream there is a good chance that the work will often overshadow its creator. Such is the case with Milton Glaser who, while a well-known and respected artist in his own right, is perhaps best known (or unknown, as it may be) for the creation of the “I (heart) NY” campaign. Yes, you can finally put a face (and voice) to the creator of one of the most prolific and simple campaigns to ever grace a state and through this documentary you will learn more not only about the man but also the influence that he’s spread unto others as well.
For many, Milton Glaser is the personification of American graphic design. Best known for co-founding New York Magazine and creating the enduring I (heart) NY campaign, the full breadth of Glaser’s remarkable artistic output is revealed in this documentary portrait, MILTON GLASER: TO INFORM AND DELIGHT. From newspapers and magazine designs, to interior spaces, logos and brand identities, to his celebrated prints, drawings, posters and paintings, the documentary offers audiences a much richer appreciation for one of the great modern renaissance men. Artfully directed by first-time filmmaker Wendy Keys, the film glances into everyday moments of Glaser’s personal life and captures his immense warmth and humanity, as well as the boundless depth of his intelligence and creativity.
Immediately you notice the documentary isn’t like others; it’s a bit more carefree and free flowing than most. There is a definite narrative to tell of course, but it doesn’t appear to be terribly concerned with the way it progresses. This may sound distracting, but it honestly is a very enjoyable experience right from the start as it sets itself apart from the other myriad of formulaic documentaries out there. In addition, while documentaries generally take a more disconnected approach when it comes to the directors involvement, but first time filmmaker Wendy Keys instead hops in front of the camera quite a bit here as she and Glaser talk about not only how the idea for the documentary came about but also Keys influence and reasoning for making the documentary.
Of course the documentary would be rather lacking if it didn’t expound on Glaser’s works, so expect to be inundated with visual stimuli. Glaser work is incredibly varied and, again, even if his name doesn’t ring a bell some of the pieces you see in the documentary will definitely jog your memory. While some may be simple things like grocery store chain advertisements, there are also the more profound pieces like the Bob Dylan portrait (which serves as the cover for this DVD) and a myriad of New York Magazine covers (a magazine which he also co-founded). It’s an impressive body of work to be sure and it’s fantastic just how much his work has lived on, even if some of it goes largely unrewarded (the aforementioned “I (heart) NY” campaign earned him nothing).
While the documentary focuses on his work intently, it also deviates and talks about his other endeavors in life as well. Again, probably expected from a documentary but the way Keys handles it is really quite excellent; everything from Glaser’s superb speech skills that actually resulted in her approaching him about doing the documentary to his philosophical work as well. It’s a real treat that Glaser himself is able to provide input on all of this as well, since who better to hear it from than the many who lived it all? There’s a really fantastic kind of friendly chemistry that goes on between Glaser and Keys throughout the documentary that helped make it feel a lot more personal than most other documentaries out there.
Overall a Highly Recommended outing. Regardless if you’re a fan of his work or not, this is a truly well done documentary about not only a man’s artistic work in life but also just his life in general.
docurama/New Video releases Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight (what an apt title for this piece too!) in a single disc (and clear) amaray DVD case. Nothing overly fancy about its presentation, as there are zero inserts inside (and the jacket is only single sided, so it’s just a bunch of empty white space staring up at you…kind of an odd piece to include in a clear amaray case, but it works anyway), only the disc. Video is clean and clear with solid detail and color levels. There is some compression to be seen here and there, but overall a very solid image nonetheless. Audio is similarly enjoyable, with a strong DD2.0 mix bringing all of the dialogue out front and center.
Extras are sadly almost nonexistent, as we’re limited to a single Panel Discussion: The Design of Dissent piece. It’s a nice addition, but considering how much obvious effort that Keys put into the piece I would have really liked a commentary or at least a brief retrospective from her on the making of it. Oh well, not a huge deal as the documentary really stands by itself quite well.
Overall a documentary that is at the very least worth a Rental. The overall DVD package is just very light and will probably only warrant a single viewing, but fans of Glaser will likely want to pick it up to own.
Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight arrives on DVD on April 27th.