by Nitija Immanuel, Jerry ElengicalSep 16, 2021
A new documentary film, Unity Temple: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Modern Masterpiece, was recently released by Lauren Levine Media in cooperation with Unity Temple Restoration Foundation (UTRF). The 55-minute film pays tribute to world-renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, bringing to life the restoration process of the Unity Temple in the US that has now been brought back to its original form. The film is available for view through a special preview screening window until November 15, 2020.
Located in Oak Park, Illinois, Unity Temple is an icon of 20th-century modern architecture. Designed for Wright’s own Unitarian Universalist congregation in 1905, Unity Temple was constructed between 1906 and 1908 and dedicated in 1909. For over 100 years, the building has continued to serve as the home of the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation. In 1973, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation (UTRF) was established by a dedicated group of volunteers to steward the restoration and preservation of the building.
Directed by filmmaker Lauren Levine, the film features the dedicated team of architects, craftspeople, historians, and members of the congregation and the UTRF, revealing the history of one of Wright’s most innovative buildings that merged his love of architecture with his own spiritual values. The film includes reflective quotes of the architect’s philosophies narrated by actor Brad Pitt. The Exclusive Preview Community Fundraiser event viewing window makes the film available for viewing with a $20 rental fee.
As the producer and director of Unity Temple: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Modern Masterpiece, Levine wanted to fully capture the scope and historic nature of the restoration (2015-2017). She felt it was possible to approach the filmmaking process in an organic way similar to the way Wright approached the design and construction of Unity Temple.
“I hoped to convey a window into Wright’s mind, beyond the often-repeated autobiographical mainstream material, so that we could better understand Wright’s guiding philosophy and intent that his buildings reflect the people who use them. It was important to capture both the tremendous task and details of the restoration itself as well as the spirit, diversity and commitment of the congregation who continue to bring the building to life,” informed Levine.
Wright once described Unity Temple as his "contribution to modern architecture”. The building is one of the first monumental edifices created entirely in concrete; Wright’s radical departure from traditional materials and visionary experimentation established Unity Temple’s reputation as among the most innovative structures of the 20th century. The building has also been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site among many of Wright’s other buildings.
The film, whose screening began October 30, 2020, has already garnered praise from the fraternity. Justin Gunther, Director, Fallingwater, said the documentary is a joy to watch.“The documentary is perfectly paced and accessible with just the right balance of technical information, inspiring commentary, and beautiful imagery. Along with Pitt’s narration of FLW, the interviewees, particularly Gunny (Harboe) and Paul (Goldberger), established a wonderfully eloquent tone throughout,” he added.
The $20 rental fee aims to support five participating Frank Lloyd Wright sites - Unity Temple, Fallingwater, Taliesin, Taliesin West and Hollyhock House - five of the eight Wright works named for the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Click here to preview the documentary film, until November 15, 2020.