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Leningrad Cowboys - Total Balalaika Show
Leningrad Cowboys - Total Balalaika Show
Actors: Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, Atte Blom, Twist-Twist Erkinharju, Ben Granfelt, Sakke Järvenpää
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts
NR     2005     0hr 54min

Rock meets classic folk music in this most unusual of concert films. It was on Senate Square in Helsinki in 1993 when the Leningrad Cowboys joined the Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble for a unique blend of music and spec...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, Atte Blom, Twist-Twist Erkinharju, Ben Granfelt, Sakke Järvenpää
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Pop, Rock & Roll
Studio: Facets
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 05/10/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 0hr 54min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, Finnish, French, Russian

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Movie Reviews

Odd & jaw-droppingly amazing concert!
Frank Mallis | 05/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"First the disclaimers: 1- There's no 'Stairway to Heaven' on this DVD. That performance shows up on a couple of their cd's, but not here. 2- A couple of the bonus music videos have sound that's slightly out of sync w/ the image (at least on my copy). 3- The remaining bonus materials are kind of 'fluffy', or a bit spare. I would have preferred interviews & behind-the-scenes that were more 'straight', not merely this 'montage of wackiness' approach.

But having said all this, my recommendation would be for you to purchase this dvd right away, and share it with anyone you can grab. I've never seen a concert film quite like this, or one that would seem less likely to be so much fun.

Turns out that the odd-looking Leningrad Cowboys - - with their sunglasses, pointed hair and pointed shoes - - were the most normal part of this show.

What you get here is spectacle. Thousands of people rocking out in Senate Square in Helsinki while an enormous Russian Military Chorus and Orchestra (and accompanying folk dancers) gleefully share the stage with the big weirdo Finnish showband doing rock covers.

No, you don't get 'Stairway', but you do get the Turtles' 'Happy Together', Dylan's 'Knocking on Heaven's Door', Tom Jones' 'Delilah', ZZ Top's 'Gimme All Your Loving' (w/ accordions), Skynyrd's 'Sweet Home Alabama' and others, trading off w/ your basic (but none the less bombastic) 'greatest hits' of Russian folk music including Kalinka, Volga Boatmen, Dark Eyes, and such.

The real surprise is how joyously earnest it all appears. Most of the songs may be American, but I didn't catch any cynical tongue-in-cheek 'kitsch factor' that might have occurred had this been a US production. Despite the rock show glitz, this still feels very much like a foreign film. There's just a different sensibility to the performances and to the way they've been captured.

If you enjoyed Aki Kaurismaki's "Leningrad Cowboys Go America", you should love this, even though this is almost an entirely different vibe. So actually, even if you didn't enjoy that movie, you still might want to check this out.

The Leningrad Cowboys have always been something of a quirky enigma for me. I enjoyed that first movie years ago, and was later surprised to hear about the existence of other movies and a bunch of albums. As there's been next to nothing easily available in the US, the mystery has continued. I'm happy now to have had the opportunity to fill in some of the blanks.

Now if we can just get a Region 1 dvd release for "Leningrad Cowboys Go America"... (and the rest of the Kaurismaki catalog as well!)"
Sweet Home Vladivostok
Robert I. Hedges | 06/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Leningrad Cowboys are one of the strangest bands ever to emerge from Finland. Well, upon reconsideration, they are actually one of the oddest bands ever, anywhere. This concert was filmed in 1993 in Helsinki, Finland when the Leningrad Cowboys joined the Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble in what is one of the most otherworldly musical experiences imaginable.

This huge and diverse band performed a lot of Russian standards, which after a while begin to sound rather similar (at least to ears outside of continental Europe) but also feature cover versions of "Stairway to Heaven" and "Sweet Home Alabama," among other rock standards. These western rockers are a sight to behold and a sound to be savored. I am particularly impressed (and amazed) by the rather extreme hair styles of the band members and the fact that they don't trip over their unwieldy footwear.

I recommend this DVD highly. It is fun and has many extras, such as four music videos, behind the scenes features, and five bonus shorts. I would have given it five stars easily if it had had a few more rock covers, and a few less Russian folksongs. Still this DVD is an absolute treasure and I highly recommend it to any music lover with a sense of humor or a taste for the surreal.
Rock & Roll Red Extravaganza !
Achilleas Kasmetlis | Salonica, Greece | 08/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Life time experience. It's unlikely you'll ever see a concert film quite like the one shot in Helsinki, with the Leningrad Cowboys and the Alexandrov Red Army Choir and folk dancers.
Is absolutely awesome. The extras also is "very juiced"."
The Cowboys Rope A Winner
James Merlini | Montgomery, AL United States | 08/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A prior reviewer wrote that the Leningrad Cowboys "parodied" rock music. Their outrageous hairdos and stage antics may be a parody, but this reviewer believes they were dead serious about their music. A group does not enlist the Red Army Choir for parody. The performance was excellent, the singers nearly beyond dispute, and the music inspired.
A copy of Happy Together was not available. But the Total Balalakia Show was, and featured two versions of "Happy Together": an original opening piece for the show and the original version.
The Leningrad Cowboys combine comedy and excellent renditions of rock music from my age of the world. Long may they wave.