Just as the Internet changed how we distributed the written word a few decades ago, the linotype machine did the same thing in the late 1880s. However, this massive and complicated machine that could set type in a much more organized manner than ever before, was quickly overshadowed by newer technologies and now, over 100 years since its invention, is in danger of becoming extinct. Linotype: The Film is a documentary directed by Doug Wilson that will attempt to give some historical context to the machine that Thomas Edison once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
Yeah, we know, it’s a documentary on a big machine. But maybe if you watch this trailer, you’ll get an idea of the type of tone that Wilson and his crew are going for. The film, which is still in production, hopes to be done by Fall 2011. Check out the trailer and the official plot description after the jump.
Here’s the trailer.
And here’s the plot description.
Linotype: The Film is a feature-length documentary film centered around the Linotype typecasting machine invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler. Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by Thomas Edison, the Linotype revolutionized printing and society, but very few people know about the inventor or his fascinating machine.
The Linotype completely transformed the communication of information similarly to how the internet is now changing it all again. Although these machines were revolutionary, technology began to supersede the Linotype and they were scrapped and melted-down by the thousands. Today, very few machines are still in existence.
The highly-skilled operators of the Linotype are in a battle against time. If their skills are not passed along to a new generation of operators, the machine will die completely. There is a small group of former operators that want to save the Linotype from the scrap yard but some see this as a fruitless endeavor to slow down progress.
Production on the film started in August of 2010 and it is slated for release in the early fall of 2011.
As someone who makes a living from words and worked at a newspaper for about six years, I love to learn about how people got their word out in the past and it seems that the linotype was an important step in that historical process. Are you at all intrigued by this film? Or do you just think it’s going to be a documentary on a big machine?