Linotype Film Premieres in NY, Travels to Other Screens
A documentary film about the Linotype machine — called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" by Thomas Edison — premiered in New York on February 3 and is making its way across the country. The West Coast premiere is Tuesday, February 21, in San Francisco.
According to the movie's website, the first SF screening is sold out but a second screening has been added. Other stops on the tour include Seattle on March 7, Springfield, MO, on March 19, and Baltimore on May 3.
"Linotype: The Film" explores the history of Ottmar Mergathaler's invention for setting lines of type in hot metal. Prior to the Linotype, each letter had to be set manually. The Linotype revolutionized printing around the world and shortened the turnaround time for publishing. As a result the Linotype played a critical role in the evolution of publishing as we know it today. It was as revolutionary — if not more so — in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as desktop publishing was in the 1980s.
But when the Linotype was superseded by photo-lettering and then digital type, the iron Linotype machines were consigned to the scrap heap, figuratively and literally. Many Linotype machines have been melted down, making them a rarity in the publishing world. A new generation of printers are saving and restoring them, making the film pertinent to today's audience.
Here's a trailer for the film:
The documentary interviews such luminaries as type designer Matthew Carter and Linotype historian Frank Romano, as well as former operators and company veterans.
The filmmakers report that in the process of making the film, they were given seven 16mm educational films created by the Mergenthaler Linotype Company about how to use the Linotype. While the initial Kickstarter campaign to fund the movie is over, the filmmakers are asking for donations to help preserve these Linotype films from the '50s and '60s.