What do the sci-fi movies of the 50s and the Rolling Stones have in common? They both owe something to Leon Theremin. An electronic genius, he invented the theremin, a musical instrument you play by waving your hands around two electrical coils. You dont actually touch the coils, but by moving your hands closer to and further away from them, you get an eerie, surreal sound. (Youve heard a theremin if youve see the films Ed Wood or Mars Attacks!; its that weird space-ship music.)
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, showing today at the Russian Cultural Center, documents the inventors life and work, including how he escaped from Russia, went to New York, became world-famous, married a beautiful American dancer and lived a high-society life in the 1930s. Then he was supposedly kidnapped by the KGB and forced to work on electronic spy gizmos for Stalin. Fifty years later he returned to America; by then, rock music icons like the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Stones had discovered the theremin and incorporated its sound into their own work. Directed by Steven M. Martin, the film won the Sundance Filmmakers Trophy in 1994. 7:30 p.m. 2337 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-395-3301 or visit www.ourtexas.org. $5 to $7.
Fri., May 30, 7:30 p.m., 2008