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The Crack Magazine

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Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)

Director: Anton Corbijn

Tastefully rendered in black and white, photographer/director Anton Corbijn’s documentary is an entertaining whistle-stop tour of the freewheeling career of legendary Prog-era design company Hipgnosis, featuring entertaining yarns from the major players. It begins with a suitably Corbijn-esque monochromatic shot of a man making his way along with wrapped-up canvases strapped to his back. He is Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell, one of the founders of the company and the chief narrator here. Po’s partner was the mercurial, uncompromisingly difficult and immaculately-named Storm Thorgerson. The duo met in the Cambridge arts scene, where Roger Waters, who had played rugby with Po, offered them design work. This commenced a long relationship with the band as Hipgnosis (Hip-gnosis) made their name with their striking sleeves for Pink Floyd albums ‘Atom Heart Mother’, ‘Meddle’ and of course ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and ‘Wish You Were Here’. The hair-raising and hair-singeing tale behind the creation of the latter speaks to a time when artists worked unencumbered by health and safety issues. The team also enjoyed long-term relationships with bands such as Led Zeppelin and 10cc. Their headquarters was situated in Kensington, close to where Polanski filmed ‘Repulsion’ and scenes from the picture are wittily juxtaposed with accounts of some of the latter bad trip vibes at the company. There’s an extraordinary retelling of how recruit Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson, later a member of notorious art rockers Throbbing Gristle, worked at a mortuary and used to pose the corpses as art-pieces. Weirdness aside, this is an affectionate tale, harking back to the era when rock dinosaurs ruled the earth and the wild music biz expense accounts ran free.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter at @DWill_Crackfilm

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