Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Electric Ladyland

After watching, "Theremin: The Electric Odyssey," I can safely say that I am in love with Leon Theremin.

An incredibly dashing and sophisticated Russian scientists comes to America and invents one of the first  electronic instruments. What else do you really need to do know? If it wasn't for Theremin, there would be no Robert Moog. If it wasn't for Robert Moog, there would be no synthesizer, and if there was no synthesizer...lord help us all.

So Theremin (also known as Lev Termen) invents not only the Theremin but also Interlace, and "The Thing," (this crazy spy tool). He also builds a cake for a girl that he likes (Theremin Virtuoso Clara Rockmore) that spins around and lights an electronic candle when she stands near it. C'mon...What a stud.

Aside from his devilish good-looks, intense stare and electronic genius, Theremin breaks the color barrier and marries Lavinia Williams: a black ballerina that was working with his invention that dared dancers to create music with and while they were dancing. 

While married to Lavinia, she claims that the KGB kidnapped Theremin and rushed him back to the Soviet Union where he was imprisoned for a while and then forced to work on espionage tools until well into his later years. Lavinia, on the other hand, died of a strange and sudden food poisoning several years later while in Haiti.

What style! What intrigue! What great taste in women!

The theremin, for so many years, was used only as a means of making  a "scary" sound for films like, "The Day The Earth Stood Still," until Brian Wilson used it in "Good Vibrations." With that being said, that still doesn't make me like the Beach Boys, sorry. I mean, ew, Mike Love is such a creep. He looks like the kind of guy that would slip you something while you were at the wavepool and then take pictures of you in his AstroVan.

Theremin, on the other hand, remains an adorably fascinating kook.

I think that one of the things that I liked the most about this documentary was the dignity that they gave to Leon Theremin, even though he was in his nineties when this film was created and wasn't necessarily as spry as he used to be. So many documentaries capture the elderly as doddering fools, without even trying.  This film has managed to create a entirely new celebrity crush. Bravo!

As an aside, here's a photo of Clara Rockmore. Talk about Rock Star!

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