“Squaring the Circle” is a captivating documentary that delves into the extraordinary record cover designs created by the renowned design studio Hipgnosis, directed by the renowned Anton Corbijn. The film provides a unique and intimate glimpse into the creative process and innovative vision that made Hipgnosis a pioneering force in the world of album artwork.
Aubry “Po” Powell with the Pink Floyd cover image for Atom Heart Mother.
Anton Corbijn, known for his remarkable work as a photographer and filmmaker, brings his keen eye and storytelling skills to the documentary. His sensitive approach allows the audience to connect with the artists behind Hipgnosis on a personal level, unravelling the inspiration, ideas, and challenges that shaped their iconic record covers.
Corbijn skilfully weaves together interviews with a mix of friends, from their time in Cambridge to the people who worked with them, along with archival footage, and behind-the-scenes glimpses to create a compelling narrative that celebrates the artistry and influence of Hipgnosis on future generations.
The film showcases an array of ground-breaking album covers that have become cultural touchstones, particularly in the realm of rock music. From Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” to Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy,” Hipgnosis’s designs are a testament to their ability to translate complex concepts and emotions into striking visual representations.
The documentary highlights the meticulous attention to detail and the symbiotic relationship between the musicians and the designers, ultimately resulting in visually arresting and thought-provoking artworks.
“Squaring the Circle” explores the origins and evolution of Hipgnosis, shedding light on the collaborative spirit and innovative techniques that set them apart. The film pays homage to the late Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell, the driving forces behind Hipgnosis, by sharing their personal insights and anecdotes. Through their candid interviews, and those who worked with them, we gain a deeper understanding of their inspirations, artistic philosophies, and the challenges they faced in bringing their imaginative visions to life.
The documentary also showcases the cultural impact of Hipgnosis’s record covers. It highlights how these iconic designs not only enhanced the overall album experience but also became iconic symbols that continue to resonate with audiences today.
An example of this was when Andrew “Drew” Ellis, one of the designers and photographers who worked with them, designed the iconic Choose Life T-shirts for Katherine Hamnett when the typography used for a design he worked on for the band 10cc resonated with him a few years later. The film’s attention to the historical context in which these covers were created adds an extra layer of appreciation for their lasting influence.
One of the film’s notable strengths is its ability to blend interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and animated sequences seamlessly. These elements contribute to a visually engaging and immersive experience, transporting viewers into the world of Hipgnosis and their creative process.
While “Squaring the Circle” admirably explores the fascinating world of Hipgnosis, it occasionally lingers on certain aspects, potentially alienating viewers less familiar with the subject matter. However, for fans of album cover art, design enthusiasts, and music lovers alike, this documentary offers an invaluable glimpse into the creative minds that shaped an era.
In summary, “Squaring the Circle” is a visually captivating and insightful documentary that pays homage to the artistic brilliance of Hipgnosis and its groundbreaking record cover designs. Anton Corbijn skillfully guides us through the history and impact of these iconic artworks, shedding light on the creative process while capturing the spirit of the musicians and designers involved.
This film is a must-watch for anyone interested in the intersection of music and visual art, as it celebrates the enduring legacy of Hipgnosis and their invaluable contributions to the world of album cover design.