I only saw Toshio Matsumoto’s Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) for the first time a few years ago and immediately wondered where this movie had been all my life. I always love it when I discover something like this that blows my expectations into tiny pieces. This pioneering LGBTQ film takes the myth of Oedipus and puts it through the wringer, trying it in every conceivable register from melodrama to farce to experimentalism. I am sometimes wary of taking on a film that is so firmly part and parcel of a subculture that I am not a member of. I never want it to come off as tourism, so I hope our sincere love of this comes through. It’s a valuable experience for me specifically because I don’t belong to this subculture. I don’t know about you, but one of the most important things movies do for me is to provide a window to worlds that I either do not or cannot inhabit. Sometimes that is strictly a function of the time I live in, sometimes it’s a function of how I live. In this case, it’s both, so this makes for an exhilarating trip through the gay underground of 1969 Tokyo. Matsumoto really hits me where I live with his tendency to dissect the filmmaking process, even while the process is actually going on. I’m already on board with the cinematic experimentation. Add to that his characters performing the radical act, which is a sad thing to have to say, of being comfortable in their own skin, regardless of what society at large says, and you are appealing to the punk rock part of me that will never die. If you are interested in the history of queer cinema or you just want to see something that is unlike anything else out there, you owe it to yourself to see this film.
What you’ll find in this episode: Oedipus wrecked, urinals as symbols of fate, Ericca’s Red Shoe Diaries period, Ericca’s period, period, and a groovy new direction for our movie nights.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Funeral Parade of Roses on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of All About Eve.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Un chant d’amour.
A nice examination of the short films and videos of Toshio Matsumoto.
A brief look at Japan’s gender bending history.
A handy travel guide to the Shinjuku district.