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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis 2022 * * * Stars


2022's Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis is not so much a documentary as it is an elongated wiki page entry, a solid, elongated wiki page entry. "Squaring the Circle", well it's about an art design group from London that created album covers for famous rock artists. I mean we're talking Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Paul McCartney and Wings, the list goes on and on. "All that work has stood the test of time". Oh fo sho.

Directed by a dude known for music videos (Anton Corbijn) and filmed slightly in monochrome (that's black and white photography), Squaring the Circle: The Story of Hipgnosis is shot chronologically yet at the same time, doesn't have a middle, beginning, or end. I mean you could watch this thing from any point, absorbed by how two art helmers (Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell) came up with legendary album sleeves that mostly didn't have anything to do with the bands or their catchy tunes.

"Squaring the Circle", yeah it's fascinating stuff, an earthy docu that warms you internally like soup. Don't think of it as a movie but a sort of incessant showcase. Case in point: why is a cow on the cover of Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother? Why was The Nice's Elegy shot in the middle of the desert with red footballs scattered? And why does Zep's Houses of the Holy have a bunch of albino children hanging out at Giant's Causeway.

Like the stirring illustrations of Hipgnosis, there's no real structure here for "Squaring the Circle". Take it as you will. It's filmed decently however, mixing archives with interviews from Powell and Thorgerson as well as rock gods like David Gilmour, Peter Gabriel, and Robert Plant (to name a few). But it also plays out like the title of Floyd's 2014 entry The Endless River, myriad, profusion-like, and without peroration. Vinyl obsessives won't care either way. Repeating "circle".

Written by Jesse Burleson

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