Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)

Documentary • For Various Artists • Directed by Anton Corbijn

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From IMDb:

Celebrated photographer, creative director and filmmaker Anton Corbijn’s first feature documentary SQUARING THE CIRCLE (the story of hipgnosis) tells the story of Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell, the creative geniuses behind the iconic album art design studio, Hipgnosis, responsible for some of the most recognizable album covers of all time. They formed Hipgnosis in Cambridge during the ferment of the sixties and became rock royalty during the boom time of the seventies. They conjured into existence sights that no one had previously thought possible, produced visuals which popularized music that had previously been considered fringe, and were at the white-hot center of the maddest, funniest and most creative era in the history of popular music. During this period, record companies didn’t dictate to acts like Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Paul McCartney what their LP covers should look like – Storm and Po did. They made money; they lost money. They did great things; they did silly things. They fell out bitterly; they made up. They never played a note, but they changed music. The film features brand new interviews with Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Graham Gouldman of 10cc, Noel Gallagher, and many more.

Trish D Chetty

From Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) | 2023 Sundance Film Festival:

Anton Corbijn’s feature documentary debut, Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis), which premiered at the 2022 Telluride Film Festival, is an entertaining tribute to the days of analog creativity and artistic risk.

Whether you’re a fan of Pink Floyd or not, chances are you know exactly what the album covers of The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here look like. But you might not be familiar with the creative duo behind those iconic images: Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell, aka the innovative design studio Hipgnosis. 

Hipgnosis went from making covers for their mates (the likes of David Gilmour and Syd Barrett) to establishing themselves as the driving force behind visual identities of some of the most popular artists of the 1970s (think Led Zeppelin and Paul McCartney). Their methods were unconventional, their budgets often unreasonable, but they were fearless visionaries who artfully manipulated photographic images long before computer graphics became ubiquitous.

Corbijn’s film is a charming, witty, beautifully crafted tale of challenging friendships, passion, and vision, full of fascinating anecdotes and big music personalities.

From Variety, September 4, 2022:

“Squaring the Circle” is kind of most fun when it gets into the album jackets you may recognize but never spent more than three seconds thinking about before. Like the cover for “Wings Greatest”: Did you know Paul McCartney had them helicopter a statue he’d purchased to a literal mountaintop for the shoot? The result: something that would look to the modern eye like it was accomplished in PhotoShop in 10 minutes.

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