Theremin in the 2008 "Day the Earth Stood Still" ? Apparently!

Posted: 12/1/2008 3:36:34 PM

From: Los Angeles

Joined: 10/6/2007

As are many people I'm sure, I'm both anticipating and dreading the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still." I had been wondering if there would be a reprise of the theremin in the soundtrack, figuring probably not since the theremin is now a sci-fi cliche, usually eliciting tittering rather than feelings of fright! After being used in Bugs Bunny cartoons, "Billy the Kid vs. Dracula" and "I Love Lucy," its day as "goosebump maker" clearly was over long ago.

But it appears the theremin was indeed used in the new soundtrack. A CD recording is available on the Varese-Sarabande web site, and the program credits list "Theremin - Pamelia Kursten."

(Go to
pid=vsd-302-066-938-2 and click on "see back cover of the album.")

I haven't talked to Pamelia in ages so I don't have any word from her on this; and a Google search hasn't yielded anything. I'll try emailing her to see if she'll tell me anything about it.

I wonder if they're gonna keep the memorable line, "klaatu barada nikto." They had BETTER!!

I also understand that the DVD release of the new film will include an interview with Peter Pringle, featuring, one assumes, the Hoffman theremin. Peter, any word on this? "Inquiring Minds Want To Know!"
Posted: 12/1/2008 4:17:38 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

More info about Peter Pringle's contribution, here (

Posted: 12/12/2008 7:12:51 AM

From: Los Angeles

Joined: 10/6/2007

by Charles Richard Lester

It's going on 3 a.m. Friday morning. I just got back from the first general-release showing, in glorious IMAX digital audio and video, of the new "The Day the Earth Stood Still," which started at 12:05 a.m.

I went with my theremin buddy Dave Weiner. I wanted to get there no later than 11 p.m., fearing mad throngs of moviegoers queuing up in vastly long lines to get in, even with pre-paid tickets. Boy, was I ever wrong about that.

When we got there, just a little after 11, there were maybe 15-20 people in line. When the theater doors opened at 11:30, there were 30 or so. By the time all the endless commercials* and crap wrapped up and the film actually started, the theater -- seating, hm, 400 maybe -- was about half full.

I can only attribute this to the possibility that most people just didn't know about this first show. Many people, myself included, likely assumed that the first showing would not be until Friday night. I only found out about this when I went on line to purchase tickets.


I am not going to talk about a lot of specifics about the film since I realize most of y'all haven't seen it yet. I don't want to spoil anything. But here are a few first-blush generalizations that are swirling around in my head and consciousness after this first viewing. I am sure I will see it again, and that some of my first impressions will change and evolve. But for now, here are some of those first impressions.


Firstly, and most importantly to us Theremin folks, yes, there IS theremin in the sound track! There is not as much of it as in the original, and not as obvious but more mixed in, and not the Hoffmanesque trembling and quavering. Rather, mostly it consists of long, sweeping, soaring glissandos and, in a few places, floor-shaking bass tones. It was, I feel, used effectively but there could have been more of it, of course! Especially since in the final credits, what to wondering eyes should appear but:

Theramin . . . Pamelia Kursten



20th Century Fox Studios, with its long association with the theremin due to is use in the first version of this film, with 56 years of publicity, discussions, elaborations, documentaries, dissertations, articles and featurettes on the instrument, actually SPELLED IT WRONG in the credit roll!

Overall the score is taut, moody and appropriate. My hat's off to Tyler Bates who wrote the rich score consisting of both full orchestral instrumentation and electronic textures.


Then a couple of non-specific comments about the story line.

It does, in a general way, follow the same story as the original but with much modernization of certain technological aspects of the alien encounters, and the landing of the main "space craft" takes place in Manhattan rather than Washington, D.C.

What's missing is the unsettling, pervasive, "everyone looking over their shoulder" Cold War paranoia and the looming specter of the Atom Bomb that defined and drove the original film. I guess that is due to the fact that in 2008 we really don't face such a threat anymore.

Or wait ... don't we?

What about the threats of "turrur" and "nukyahler" warfare? There was no aspect of terrorism in this film at all, not even when an awesome, fearsome, gigantic orb lands in the middle of Central Park! There could have been so many obvious ties to terrorism that were missed -- whether deliberately omitted or unintentionally overlooked, I felt this was a big failing in the story line.

What =is= there, but much with much greater clarity and urgency, is the essence of Klaatu's famous line, "we will reduce your planet to a burning cinder" [without the actual line being uttered of course].

Rather than terror or nuclear holocaust be the cause of Klaatu's arrival on Earth, it is "Us Earthlings Messing up the Enviro

You must be logged in to post a reply. Please log in or register for a new account.