Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (1994)

PG  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History  |  24 August 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 823 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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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)


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

24 August 1995 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$187,923 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Theremin is played without being touched; it was the first and is still the only non-contact instrument. See more »


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 »


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.
See more »


Features Spellbound (1945) See more »


Written by Miklós Rózsa (as Miklos Rozsa)
Theremin played by Samuel Hoffman (as Dr. Samuel Hoffman)
Warner/Chappell Music
See more »

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User Reviews

It makes you want to buy a theremin and start playing....
24 May 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I owe my watching this documentary to my strange daughter. Now I do not mean this in a bad way--I come from a family of strange people and the fact that she KNEW what a theremin was surprised me, as I sure didn't. Apparently a theremin is a magnificent electronic musical instrument created in the early part of the 20th century by Dr. Theremin--a genius who had immigrated to the US around the time of the Russian Revolution. This film, then, is about the instrument and its inventor--and it makes for a slow but very interesting story worth seeing even if you are not a musician. I am certainly not one, but I found myself marveling at the beautiful and other-worldly sound of this machine. In fact, we have all heard the theremin before--most often in sci-fi movies but even in other places such as the Beach Boys' song "Good Vibrations". And, speaking of this, seeing Brian Wilson interviewed was pretty bizarre, as he looked pretty good but the more he talked the more you realized that he still is quite mentally ill.

Anyway, there is MUCH more to the story in regards to Dr. Theremin--much more, but I don't want to say more because it would spoil this wonderful film. His life, put simply, is MUCH stranger than fiction! I give the documentary very high marks for all the effort it took to construct--with trips to Moscow, locating the Doctor, arranging for interviews, etc.. Clearly this was a labor of love and I appreciate this. The only reason i don't rate this even higher is that it is a bit dry in places and although it kept my interest, I have a much larger capacity than normal for this sort of thing...and the average person might just find their mind wandering. Still, it's fascinating and I strongly recommend you try it.

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