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I spent most of yesterday afternoon watching and taking notes from the 86 minute documentary ELEKTRO MOSKVA. This film is so rich and interesting that I found myself sitting in reflection every time I jotted down an intriguing story element…..and believe me there were lots.
The film’s official website describes itself like this: “ELEKTRO MOSKVA is an essayistic documentary about the beginnings of the Soviet electronic age and what remained of it- a huge pile of outdated, fascinating devices. Today they are being recycled and reinterpreted by musicians, inventors and traders, who carry that legacy on into an uncertain future. An electronic fairy tale about the inventive spirt of the free mind inside the iron curtain- and beyond.”
Well all of that is certainly true but I discovered something deeper….. something partially hidden and really only stated at the end of the documentary: A metaphysical connection between electronic instruments, their circuitry and between immortality and rejuvenation. A sort of Frankenstein subplot. And that makes ELEKTRO MOSKVA that much more interesting. It lingers and stays with you as all great films and documentaries manage to do.
If the inventor of the world’s first electronic instrument- The Theremin is to believed, his experimentation with electronic instrument designs led to techniques that allowed rejuvenation of human life and the bringing of the dead back to life. Kooky stuff to be sure but in our modern age of DNA manipulation and Stem Cell research shouldn’t we keep our minds open to all biological possibilities? Why is it so obtuse to think that electronic manipulation holds the key to immortality? The brain is after all- a sort of electronic computer. Why else would Russia have kept the body of Lenin whole and entombed for over a hundred years? Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself- let’s move instead to the birth of Communist Synthesizers.
A Ghost of Communism: The backdrop for the film
It began with the Soviet electrification of the country. As Russian homes and farms became wired, Science and Technical Progress became heralded by the state as ‘the new Gods’. In 1926 Léon Theremin ( Lev Sergeyevich Termen ) invented an early form of television which was adapted for border security use and classified. At the same time, the state decided that technological developments were only considered legit and legal if they strengthened communism.
The long awaited electrical revolution expected by the masses and any notions of new, exciting products in Russian homes became instead a sort of electrified jail and super factory. Then, after Russia had successfully developed nuclear bombs and orbited the first man in space- things changed. A celebration of technical progress and Soviet achievement became politicized through the use of synthetic music and sound. Found out what happened next by watching ELEKTRO MOSKVA online in HD. Highly recommended. For the Silo, Jarrod Barker.