Funeral Parade of Roses

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Funeral Parade of Roses
Funeral-parade-of-roses.jpg
Japanese film poster
Directed byToshio Matsumoto
Written byToshio Matsumoto
Produced by
  • Mitsuru Kudo
  • Keiko Machida
Starring
CinematographyTatsuo Suzuki
Edited byToshie Iwasa
Music byJoji Yuasa
Distributed byArt Theatre Guild
Release date
  • 13 September 1969 (1969-09-13)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese

Funeral Parade of Roses (薔薇の葬列, Bara no Sōretsu) is a 1969 Japanese drama art film directed and written by Toshio Matsumoto, loosely adapted from Oedipus Rex and set in the underground gay culture of 1960s Tokyo. It stars Peter as the protagonist, a young transgender woman, and features Osamu Ogasawara, Yoshio Tsuchiya and Emiko Azuma. A product of the Japanese New Wave, the film combines elements of arthouse, documentary and experimental cinema, and is thought to have influenced Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange (1971) (although many of the points of comparison can also be found in earlier movies such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Love Is Colder Than Death).[1]

The title is a pun, as "rose" (bara) in Japanese can have a similar meaning to "pansy" in English slang.[2]

The film was released by A.T.G. (Art Theatre Guild) on September 13, 1969 in Japan; however, it did not receive a United States release until October 29, 1970. Matsumoto's previous film For My Crushed Right Eye contains some of the same footage and could be interpreted as a trailer for Funeral Parade. In June 2017, it received a 4K restoration and a limited theatrical rerelease.[3] In 2020, it received a limited edition Blu-ray release from the British Film Institute in the UK.[4]

Plot[edit]

The film follows the trials and tribulations of Eddie and other transgender women in Tokyo.[5] The main plot continuously jumps around the timeline of events. The film also contains scenes shot in a documentary style, in which the film's cast members are interviewed about their sexuality and gender identity.

As a child, Eddie was abused by her father. When her father abandons Eddie and her mother, Eddie suggests to her mother that, though her husband has left them, she still has Eddie to rely on, and her mother laughs at her. Some time later, Eddie finds her mother with another man, and Eddie stabs them both using a knife.

Now an adult, Eddie works at the Genet, a gay bar in Tokyo that employs several transgender women to service customers. The Genet is managed by drug dealer Gonda, with whom Leda, the madame or "lead girl" of the bar, lives and is in a relationship. Leda correctly begins to suspect that Eddie and Gonda have a secret sexual relationship, and Gonda promises to make Eddie the new madame of the bar.

One day, Eddie witnesses a street protest and enters an art exhibit, where a voice on a tape recorder speaks about individuals masking their personalities, "wearing" one or more "masks" in order to avoid loneliness.[6] Eddie also goes shopping with friends, visiting clothing stores and a hair salon, eating ice cream and entering a men's bathroom, where they stand in front of urinals in their skirts. Eddie also associates with Guevara, a member of a filmmaking collective who makes avant-garde films. After viewing one of Guevara's works, Eddie and others smoke marijuana and dance.

While out with two friends, Eddie and two friends are confronted by a trio of women, and a fight ensues. Gonda visits Leda and is angered when she feigns concern for Eddie's well-being. Leda is later found lying in her bed, having died by suicide, wearing a veil and surrounded by roses. On the floor are two dolls, one with a nail in its upper chest, and the other with a nail in each eye.

After Leda's funeral, Eddie is promoted to madame of the Genet. While Eddie takes a shower, Gonda finds a book containing a photograph of Eddie as a young boy, with her parents. Though a hole has been burnt through the face of Eddie's father in the picture, Gonda recognizes Eddie's mother as his former lover. Realizing that Eddie is his child, Gonda kills himself with a knife. Upon seeing this, Eddie takes the knife and stabs herself in each eye, before stumbling outside in front of a crowd of people.

Cast[edit]

  • Peter as Eddie
  • Osamu Ogasawara as Leda
  • Yoshio Tsuchiya as Gonda
  • Emiko Azuma as Eddie's mother
  • Toyosaburo Uchiyama as Guevara
  • Don Madrid as Tony
  • Koichi Nakamura as Juju
  • Chieko Kobayashi as Okei
  • Shōtarō Akiyama as himself
  • Kiyoshi Awazu as himself

Production[edit]

The film was set and shot in Tokyo.

Reception[edit]

Retrospective assessments[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 100% based on 19 reviews, with an average rating of 8.5/10.[7]

In 2017, IndieWire's Michael Nordine gave the film a grade of "A-", calling it "very much a trip, the kind you might not be able to make sense of at every step of the way but later, after returning to reality, will be glad to have embarked on."[8] That same year, Simon Abrams of RogerEbert.com gave the film a score of four out of four stars, concluding: "You may not directly identify with Eddie or her world, but you will walk away from Matsumoto's film with a newfound appreciation of what movies can be."[9] In 2020, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film five out of five stars, calling it "a fusillade of haunted images and traumatised glimpses, splattered across a realist melodrama of the Tokyo underground club scene, played out in a fiercely beautiful monochrome", as well as "a jagged shard of a film, an underground dream of longing and despair, an excursion away from narrative and a great example of the Japanese New Wave [...]".[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ‘Funeral Parade of Roses’: Edgy 1969 Japanese drama that inspired Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Dangerous Minds, 15 June 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Exclusive - Fantagraphics to publish 'Massive' anthology of gay manga". 31 December 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  3. ^ "'Funeral Parade of Roses' Review: New 4K Restoration is Still Erotically Charged". Cinemacy. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  4. ^ Funeral Parade of Roses (2-Disc Blu-ray)
  5. ^ Cleary, Tamsin (16 June 2020). "Why Funeral Parade of Roses is a landmark of Japanese queer cinema". British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  6. ^ Vicari, Justin (2016). Japanese Film and the Floating Mind: Cinematic Contemplations of Being. McFarland & Company. p. 75. ISBN 978-1476664989.
  7. ^ "Funeral Parade of Roses (1969)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  8. ^ Nordine, Michael (9 June 2017). "'Funeral Parade of Roses' Review: 50 Years Later, This Transgressive Japanese Drama Is Still a Party and a Procession". IndieWire. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  9. ^ Abrams, Simon (9 June 2017). "Funeral Parade of Roses movie review (1970)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  10. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (13 May 2020). "Funeral Parade of Roses review – surreal classic charts Tokyo's queer underground". IndieWire. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
Sources

External links[edit]