Coming to PBS’s American Masters tonight, Tuesday, December 27: EERO SAARINEN: THE ARCHITECT WHO SAW THE FUTURE
Peter Rosen’s look at the life and work of the visionary architect debuted at NYC’s Architecture & Design Film Festival this Fall. It now comes to TV as the finale of the PBS program’s 30th season.
The viewer’s guide through Saarinen’s legendary designs is his son, Eric Saarinen, the film’s director of photography and co-producer. Still seeking closure from his father’s premature death at the age of 51, Eric visits several of his father’s projects, from the Gateway Arch and TWA Flight Center to the General Motors Technical Center and Yale’s Ingalls Rink, as he reveals more personal details of his father’s impact on his family. Already placing his wife and children secondary to his career, Eero abandoned them following a love affair with Aline Louchheim, an art critic for the New York Times who became a champion of his work. While Eric’s difficult relationship with his father parallels Eero’s own complicated, competitive relationship with his own father, accomplished architect Eliel Saarinen, the film’s slight running time unfortunately doesn’t permit an extended exploration of this intriguing theme, subordinating the personal to a too-quick, and somewhat surface-level, survey of Eero’s work, which remains, despite this, compelling in its break from modernist convention.