on 15 September 2006
Funeral Parade announces itself as: "A Parody of Oedipus Rex" - a parody played out in the transvestite subculture of late 60s Tokyo. It sticks closely to Oedipus, right down to the extremely shocking bloodthirsty finale, but of course all the gender roles are subverted/realigned (interesting to compare with Pasolini's
Oedipus from around the same time).
Like Oshima's better known Diary of a Shinjuku Thief, Funeral Parade takes place amid late 60s Shinjuku bohemia, combining fictional & documentary scenes, actors & non-actors, but mixing everything up, blurring the line between what is acted and what is "real". Actors give interviews to camera about their roles. Gay youths on the streets are interviewed about their lives. Different scenes are replayed in different narrative contexts. In other words, lots of self-reflexivity & Brecht/Godard estrangement effects.
It's easy to see why this film was a sensation in 1969, why it then fell into neglect and why it is being revived now. It uses every new wave cinematic device/trick & is VERY 1960s (dope smoking parties, orgies, characters called Guevara etc). Some might still find it irritating & passé but most people now will probably find it a fascinating period piece.
Funeral Parade is extremely well-made, compared to most low budget underground movies it's very slick: beautiful black & white cinematography, clever narrative structure, committed "acting" - the transvestite cast here, including the famous Peter, clearly empathized with the ideas of parody & pastiche being played out. What makes Funeral Parade different to most 60s movies is this gay subculture setting & the fact that the movie is unsentimental & ironic towards its period concerns.
This is another superb DVD from Masters of Cinema: restored print, interview with Matsumoto plus director's commentary. Excellent booklet with useful essays (one from musician Jim O'Rourke's on the general historical context). If you are at all interested in the Japanese New Wave (or late 60s Tokyo) then you should certainly investigate this DVD
on 3 March 2013
Funeral Parade of Roses is an underground film which portrays the Tokyo scene at the 60's: a world full of drugs, sex and freedom in a very funky way. Now, all this is already gone so this film stands as almost a documentary landmark of that era. The copy quality is good and the essays are very helpful in contextualizing the film, something that the "Master of Cinema" DVD collection have always been good at.