New York is one of the planet’s most recognisable places – largely thanks to the infinite films, television shows, and plays set across its five boroughs. One of its most ubiquitous features is the black, white, and red “I Heart NY” logo. In this five-minute documentary, Milton Glaser – this quintessential design’s creator, never intending it to be more than a fleeting emblem – talks viewers through his life and his city. Director Andre Andreev merges new shots and archival footage to highlight ordinary moments which make New York uniquely special to many.
As Glaser narrates, the camera explores people, places, and moments – a fish market, construction work, daily commutes – that comprise the city’s citizens’ days. The careful presentation of snapshots and faces somewhat dampers authenticity, but each crackles with life. Even the pigeons are full of character, bobbing around while staring down the camera. “Things become iconic for reasons that you don’t know,” states Glaser, and his no-nonsense logo seems born from the indefatigable energy which propelled New York to the centre of world business and culture.
The documentary does not plumb the depths of New York’s grittiest sides, but the city shown here feels no less real than that depicted in longer pieces. Glaser’s unpretentious narration highlights how adjacent streets – all distinctly lived-in – can feel countries apart thanks to the immigrant communities who built New York into today’s flourishing hub of finance, commerce, history, and the arts. As Glaser states that “the most significant things… are in the realm of feeling, expression, and art”, one cannot help but be swept up by the drive and determination of New York’s inhabitants.
This easy piece distills New York’s distinct hardscrabble character into a digestible, tangible morsel for those both familiar and unfamiliar with the city. Yes, this is an easy watch, and celebrating the city’s diversity and resilience feels a bit corny, but what better way to convey the corny, perennial, nonspecific charm of the infamous red heart and block letters?
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CAST: Milton Glaser
DIRECTOR: Andre Andreev
WRITER: Dan Covert
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Christian Haberkern
EDITORS: Andre Andreev, Mike Cook
SYNOPSIS: Milton Glaser, creator of the (in)famous I Heart NY symbol, recounts his years in the city and the many faces it shows the world.