ERIC SAARINEN IN FINLAND
Eric Saarinen is the son of architect Eero Saarinen and the grandson of architect Eliel Saarinen. I had the chance of shortly meeting him yesterday evening, when he was present at a viewing of the film ”Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future”, directed by Peter Rosen and publicly shown in the USA, by PBS, under the title of American Masters. Eric has an essential role in the film and he himself is also known for his documentary film work and advertising.
The theatre version of the film is almost 70 minutes, and there is a shorter version, 55 minutes, for television. The documentary also is a co-production with YLE, and will later definitely be broadcasted by YLE TEEMA here in Finland.
Yesterday´s event took place in the auditorium of the National Museum in Helsinki, a building by architects Gesellius Lindgren Saarinen. The event was not widely advertised, but a large number of spectators had even been privately invited. Almost half of the seats were reserved for them, but a at least twenty-thirty seats in front of the auditorium were left empty. In the back, again, several members of the general audience were left standing.
Yesterday Helsingin Sanomat also published an article about Eric Saarinen and his efforts at looking into his father and grandfather, Eero and Eliel. I accidentally found information about the viewing at the end of this article by Mrs. Anu Uimonen.
In this screenshot image, Eric is the second person on the left, but sitting in the same picture with his mother and sister – and with a father who seldom had time for the family at all. Fortunately, his godfather and godmother were Charles and Ray Eames, who were a great help after the father left them all for a new life.
I would like this film also to be shown for members of the architectural profession here in Finland, and hopefully it might even be possible. In the National Museum auditorium, there were only a few colleagues, not more than maybe a dozen. I, again, had the privilege of sitting next to our former ambassador in Washington D.C., together with his wife. We had a short chat before and after the presentation.
I understood that during their time in the USA, they had played an important role also in events and lectures around the personality and genius of Eero Saarinen. They also mentioned the name Severi Blomstedt, the former head of the Museum of Finnish Architecture, who had been exceptionally helpful in the precess.
Anyways, I am going to watch the film yet another time and write about it later. Here installed is a video, where Mr. Saarinen and Mr. Rosen discuss the making of the film. It was shown by PBS to the public, first time at the end of last December.
It is a great pity that the event was not more widely advertised. Maybe we get it here yet another time, with a short introduction of the works of Saarinen and maybe – more than was introduced in the film – a side-story about the importance of the extraordinary and inspiring friendship between Saarinen and the Eameses, Charles and Ray. The film would have been an excellent addition to the concrete industry-organised conference in The HOuse of CUlture in Helsinki, a few weeks ago.
I will definitely get back to this film. The images here are just screenshots. The film also tells the story of Saarinen´s love to and extraordinary woman, Aline Louchheim. She broke the marriage of Saarinen and his first wife, and separated the children even more from their ambitious and work-obsessed father – but the relationship also proved to be highly important for Saarinen´s career. Saarinen and Aline were more like intellectual companions and friends and almost always also travelled together and shared their studio space.
The film introduces 11 Saarinen buildings. Some of the footage, realised with contemporary drone and film technique, is absolutely stunning. But it is also a personal story, and deeply moving at that.
It has taken a lot of time and effort for Eric Saarinen, to come to terms with his relation – almost non-existent – with the genius for a father. But in this sense, the film also presents some kind of a closure. He himself admits that making this film could perhaps be compared with 20 years of therapy.