The Detroit News reported last week that Eric Saarinen, grandchild of Eliel Saarinen and son of Eero Saarinen, is working on a new movie about Eliel. Eric made an earlier film about his father, Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future, which premiered on PBS in 2016 as part of the channel’s American Masters series.
The Eliel-themed documentary is apparently still in pre-production phases, and Eric is fundraising for the movie. There’s no word yet on when the documentary will be released.
Eliel, who lived from 1873 to 1950, was an early 20th-century architect whose work transitioned from ornamented styles that drew heavily from European traditions, to pared-back designs that aligned somewhat with the tastes of European modernists. After moving to the United States at age 50, Eliel designed the First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana; buildings on the Cranbrook Educational Community campus in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; and other noted designs across the country.
Neither Eliel’s nor Eero’s work conformed to strict orthodoxies about modernist architecture, and the sometimes florid or idiosyncratic creations of both architects have been treated as eccentric or incidental to the slow march of architecture history. But over the past few years exhibitions, books, and efforts like Eric’s documentary have started to change the public perception of the two architects.