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Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis - Film

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 19 / 1 / 2024

Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis - Film

Photographer turned film director Anton Corbijn reconstructs the birth, rise and blossoming of the Hipgnosis sleeve design company in his documentary 'Squaring The Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)'. Edited like a TV programme due on schedule on commercial TV with 'breaks,’ it offers the snap history of the artists and art managers behind some, if not many, of the household sleeves of pretty much anyone's LP collection. Hipgnosis followed the success of Pink Floyd and even managed to exploit the failure of a loose flying pig over London. Corbijn, best known for his portraits of Captain Beefheart for example, adds none of his visual gifts. His focus is spot on Hipgnosis and the visual world they helped to create. The development of Hipgnosis rolls out like in a series of accidental anecdotes. Simple coincidences that explain a sudden change. Each time snapping the moment, the zeitgeist, Storm and Po were like Absolutely Fabulous in reverse to 1968. Whack ideas materialized without objection. Record labels were run by caring fathers. Riddled with old fart boomer Muzak, there's a brief moment when Johnny Rotten shows up wearing his “(I Hate) Pink Floyd” T-Shirt. Hipgnosis never got any closer to reality than here in the late 1970s. Living a dream of selling dozens of millions of record jackets worldwide; before the web, remember. Corbijn's budget must have been rather small. The intermezzi feature the royalty-free performance by the Berliner Philharmoniker of Strauss's 'An der schönen blauen Donau' conducted by Herbert von Karajan more than once, as if Corbijn unlinks the music from this era. The cinematic quality of this documentary is found in the apt recollection of how the music marketing industry became a force to be reckoned with, paving the way for event managers alike. Most striking is the continuous interaction with the musicians; some of them almost considering the Hipgnosis duo to be part of the family. Given a few bumps on the ride, Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell got along very well with each other and with the bands and labels which could get them loads of money. Hipgnosis tailored sound and vision like Instagram videos do today. Such was not Corbijn's aim and perspective. Corbijn is the archivist, not the artist for art's sake. It's the 10cc's hit song from 47 years ago now, which will guide you out of the viewing room. In my cinema, it tested the loudspeakers. Terribly sorry to have spoilt it, but that moment is worth your ticket.

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Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis - Film

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Maarten Schiethart finds the new documentary by Anton Corbijn ‘Squaring The Circle' about the Hipgnosis sleeve design company striking.


Film (2023)
Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis - Film
Nick Dent-Robinson watches a new documentary about pioneering design company Hipgnosis, which was responsible for many iconic album covers from the late 1960s until the early 1980s.

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