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Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (1994)

PG  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History  |  24 August 1995 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 810 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 11 critic

A documentary about the inventor of the first electronic synthesiser instrument and his subsequent life after he was abducted by the KGB as well as a history of his instrument.

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Title: Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (1994)

Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (1994) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Leon Theremin ...
Himself - Inventor of the Theremin
Clara Rockmore ...
Herself - Theremin Virtuoso
Robert Moog ...
Himself - Inventor of the Moog Synthesizer
Nicolas Slonimsky ...
Himself - Composer and Historian
Paul Shure ...
Himself - Musician
Henry Solomonoff ...
Himself - Theremin Studio Member
Suki Bader ...
Herself - Theremin Dancer
Beryl Campbell ...
Herself - Theremin Dancer
Lydia Kavina ...
Herself - Theremin's Great Niece
...
Himself - Founder of The Beach Boys
Todd Rundgren ...
Himself - Musician and Producer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Himself (archive footage) (as Lenin)
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Storyline

A documentary about the amazing life of Leon Theremin, inventor of the theremin, the electronic musical instrument so beloved of 50s sci-fi movie music. Theremin amazed America with his instrument until his kidnapping by Soviet agents in the mid-30s. Upon his release from a labor camp, he worked on surveillance devices for the KGB. Almost 60 years later , he is brought back to America for a touching reunion with his friends and colleagues. Written by Erik Gregersen <erik@astro.as.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Music He Created Was Strange. His Life Was Even Stranger.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief strong language | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

24 August 1995 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Gross:

$187,923 (USA)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In addition to being the inventor of the musical instrument that bears his name, Léon Theremin was also the inventor of the eavesdropping electronic-bugging device. See more »

Goofs

In the credits, the song "Someday My Prince Will Come", by Larry Morey and Frank Churchill, is listed as "Someday My Price Will Come". See more »

Quotes

Himself - Founder of The Beach Boys: It sounded like one of those scary movies where - OOOH - a weird trip, you know. Weird facial expressions. Weird, you know. It's almost sexual.
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Connections

Features Spellbound (1945) See more »

Soundtracks

This Room is My Castle of Quiet
Written by Les Baxter
Courtesy of Capitol/EMI Records and Bax Music
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User Reviews

 
An Interesting, But Bumpy, Electronic Odyssey...
18 January 2004 | by (Chicago, USA) – See all my reviews

THEREMIN: AN ELECTRONIC ODYSSEY is a documentary on both the Theremin, the instrument, and Prof. Leon Theremin, the inventor. The film follows both through a strange sequence of events and interweaves these stories with those influenced by the machine and the man. Some of the interviewees include Clara Rockman, a virtuoso Theremin player, and one time love of Prof. Theremin. Robert Moog, who went on to create the massive Moog synth--and it turns out, who started out by building Theremins himself. Nicolas Slonimsky, a composer who studied the work of Prof. Theremin. And Brian Wilson, which brings me to my first problem with the film: Even though Wilson is amusing with his burned out rambling, his interview goes on far to long and adds little to the flow of the story. I can see why the director, Steven M. Martin, wanted to use this footage, however it is obvious that Wilson can neither play the instrument nor knew what one was until Phil Spector brought it to him. I would have much rather seen more about Bernard Herrmann's score for THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, which, sadly, has not had the lasting impact of "Good Vibrations". Anyway...

Well it turns out that at one point midway through his life, Prof. Theremin was kidnapped by the KGB and brought back to Russia. Second problem: those shadowy years are explained by Theremin himself, however being in his mid-nineties and speaking broken English. It is very hard to tell what happened and when, although some other sources flesh it out to a certain degree. Subtitles or a better microphone would have helped. He apparently was involved with electronic listening devices and received an award from Lenin himself. Heady stuff for a single man's journey through life. Although, the film remains too aloof to capture the whole scope of Theremin's story.

That is not to say that the film does not have some great moments. The scenes of the elderly Russian inventor wandering, alone, through the busy streets of an urban sprawl are haunting and sad. And simply to witness Rockman performing on the instrument is incredible, the way the smallest movement to her fingers creates an unique sound. I was familiar with the story before I saw the film, but it did not shed much light on the questions I had. It is a good film for someone who has never even heard of the Theremin before, but I felt it fell short of it's promise of really delving deep into the story and casting light on corners that will more than likely remain shrouded with gloom. 6/10.


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Needs English Subtitles and Names of folks being interviewed... jazzcat320
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