New Release: Leningrad Cowboys DVD

Release Date: Oct. 18, 2011
DVD $44.95
Studio: Criterion

Aki Kaurismäki's Leningrad Cowboys movie scene

The Leningrad Cowboys prepare for another hair-raising show.

Criterion‘s Eclipse Series 29 features the inimitable work of Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki (The Match Factory Girl), the master of the deadpan comedy, and his weirdest creation: the band Leningrad Cowboys, billed by their inventor as “the worst rock-and-roll band in the world.”

A bizarre posse of fur-coated, outrageously pompadoured Siberian hipsters, the band struck a chord with international audiences via their debut star turn in the 1989 Kaurismäki film Leningrad Cowboys Go America. The fictional band was so popular that it became a genuine attraction, touring the world and appearing in a handful of subsequent Kaurismäki movies.

This Eclipse series presents these crackpot musical and comic odysseys, all Finnish films, along with five Leningrad Cowboys music videos directed by Kaurismäki.

Here’s what’s included in the DVD:

Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989)
The struggling Siberian rock band leaves the lonely tundra to tour the United States because, as they are told, “they put up with anything there.”

Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (1994)
Living in Mexico with a top 10 hit under their belts, the Leningrad Cowboys have fallen on hard times. When they move north to rejoin their manager for a gig in Coney Island, he seems to have turned into a delusional self-proclaimed prophet who wishes to lead them back to the promised land of Siberia.

Total Balalaika Show (1994)
Kaurismäki’s documentary of the Leningrad Cowboys’ massive Helsinki Square concert, on Finland’s largest stage, is a loving tribute to the rock band he made famous. 70,000 people from Finland and Russia turned out for the megaspectacle, with musical selections ranging from Sibelius to Bob Dylan and on-stage accompaniment by the 150-member Russian Red Army Choir.

Five Leningrad Cowboys music videos, all directed by Kaurismäki: “Rocky VI,” “Thru the Wire,” “L.A. Woman,” “These Boots” and “Those Were the Days.”


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.