7.4/10
853
20 user 11 critic

Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (1993)

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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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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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>

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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 documentary, Bob Moog makes a statement to the effect that Stradivarius designed the first violin. "Stradivarius" is not a person but refers to a musical instrument, usually a violin, made by Antonio Stradivari and his family. The violin existed as an instrument for more than a century before the birth of Antonio Stradivari in 1644. See more »

Quotes

Brian Wilson - 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

Good Vibrations
Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love
Performed by The Beach Boys
Courtesy Capitol Records
Irving Music Inc.
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User Reviews

 
OK, but not really...
21 July 2012 | by (Thailand) – See all my reviews

I was disappointed with this "film" for many reasons. First, it was impossible to understand the interviews with Leon Theremin. The version I watched had no English subtitles, so most of the last third of this "film" was useless. Also, they interviewed a woman with short, brown hair that spoke Russian with no subtitles. Another problem is that most of these people are not introduced or have their names on the screen. I had no idea who these people were and why they were being interviewed. (My opinion is the director didn't know why these people were being interviewed either.) Anyway, the last third of this "film" just drags on and on because you don't who the people are, and you can't understand what they're saying. It's so bad, it's really annoying.

Another problem is the look and feel of this "film". It was made in the early 90's, but has the look and feel of a 70's documentary. It appears that the director had no preconceived plan of what he wanted, so he went out and filmed all this footage and then tried to make a story out of it when he got back to the editing suite. I've worked on documentaries, and that's NOT how you should do it. The director had 15-20 years to improve upon the look of his "film", but did not. This leads me to think that he was very inexperienced. The "film" looks very amateurish and dated.

Is it all bad? No. The first 2/3 are fairly interesting and tell a good (if disjointed) story of Theremin and his inventions. I loved the performances by Clara Rockmore. They were moving and beautiful. All the archive footage was pretty cool. And Brain Wilson's interview is something you just have to experience for yourself - it's classic! I also enjoyed the interviews with Robert Moog - very enlightening.

All in all, this is a decent "film" (God, I hate it when they say "A Film by ______" in the credits. It sounds so pompous!) But, it suffers from a lack of direction which makes the last third so bad, it's painful. Plus, we can't understand what happened after Theremin was kidnapped and brought back to Russia. It's really frustrating.


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