Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Funeral Procession of Roses [Bara no Souretsu] (also known as Funeral Parade of Roses or Parade of Roses) (Toshio Matsumoto, 1969) is a film about Eddie, a female impersonator; his male lover, who is also the manager of the club where he works; and another female impersonator who is Eddie's rival both romantically and professionally. It’s also a retelling of the Oedipus myth, though this isn’t apparent at all on a first viewing. There are also indications that all of this a film-within-the-film, which is connected somehow to a mysterious figure known as Guevara.

Structurally, the film resembles Godard’s early films. It incorporates disparate elements, from slapstick to mock-documentary to political protest to tragedy; and most of the scenes are only loosely connected to each other. And to prevent viewers from losing themselves in the film, Matsumoto uses all the tricks of the French New Wave: intertitles, images briefly inserted into seemingly unrelated scenes, freeze-frames, jump-cuts, sped-up sequences invoking silent film comedy, and more. But far from being incoherent or derivative, Funeral Procession of Roses is a startlingly original work. If you’re seriously interested in film as an art, you need to watch this.

The extras on the DVD are in Japanese, but the trailer is worth watching, both because it contains at least one snippet of film that didn’t make it into the movie, and because it shows how the distributor tried to sell the film commercially.

There’s some groovy psychedelic guitar accompanying some of the scenes, though I didn’t catch who played it.

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