Order of the Phoenix
Since the Harry Potter movies first started coming out, my parents have taken all the local grandchildren to see them; today we hit “Order of the Phoenix.” And for once I found something to love: a truly superb and inventive use of font throughout the film.
The wizarding newspaper, The Daily Prophet, is a central expositional device in the film, and the designer nails the early nineteenth-century style sheet–from pointing finger ornaments to the lively, crowded pages, where headlines jostle ads for broom loans. The use of nineteenth-century typefaces is also excellent–in particular what looked like slightly tweaked Egyptian and Bell faces, as well as some display faces I didn’t recognize. The credits were also done in this style, with a slightly distressed finish to point up the inky, hand-pulled feel of the letters.
Another fine use of type design was in the Educational Decrees, which were laid out as a cross between Nazi propaganda posters and eighteenth-century broadsheets. The trusty black-white-and-red palette, the very quirky use of a different antiquarian typeface on each line, the pseudo-alchemical glyph at the bottom of each sheet . . . very nice.
I loved the Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook: it’s creepily reminiscent of a 1930s elementary school hygiene text we used to have kicking around the house. It was loosely based on Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, alternating interesting stories from that peculiar book with lessons on tooth-brushing and handwashing. The DADA text looks just like it, with shiny-cheeked children and the venerable New Century Schoolbook in its original context.
So there you have it: Order of the Phoenix is worth seeing for the fonts.
Update (August 21, 2007): Crazy Diamond Design sells the Daily Prophet fonts, as well as an impressive range of early English and humanist fonts. Go see them here!