Cinelicious Pics and The Cinefamily have breathed new life into the 1969 black and white experimental film, “Funeral Parade of Roses.”
The new wave Japanese film, from director Toshio Matsumoto, had been banned from American theaters for years, but since its recent 4K restoration, this work will now celebrate its re-release with a special screening at The Cinefamily beginning this Friday.
Drawing inspiration from the subversive world of underground drag queen bars and the mischief that surrounds them, “Funeral Parade of Roses” is an intoxicating watch from start to finish. The protagonist, Eddie (Pîtâ), a young, doe-eyed hostess at Bar Genet, becomes entangled in a violent love triangle with club owner Gonda (Yoshio Tsuchiya) and the reigning drag queen Leda (Osamu Ogasawara). Amongst the sex and violence, Eddie worries for her safety but that doesn’t stop her from participating in both drugs, booze, and naked dance parties that are overtly present in the Tokyo night scene. The further the film develops, the wilder the ride becomes, including an inadvertent “Oedipus Rex” moment that is so shocking it may be tempting to cover (or try to poke out) your eyes.
Influenced by many, but still the reigning champion of boundary-pushing movies.
“Funeral Parade of Roses” has become a legendary film in its own right- influencing Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” and portraying the tone of the counter culture trans scene of Tokyo in the 60s. Chaotic edits that blend documentary interviews– questioning characters about their decision to “become gay”– with avant-garde performance art, and film-within-a-film moments, “Funeral Parade of Roses” is most definitely not a straightforward watch.
This queer, art-house cinematic masterpiece was ahead of its time in 1969, and the argument could be made that it remains that way, even today. While the normalization and societal acceptance of trans people are becoming more mainstream, the technique and way in which Matsumoto created this buzzy, gritty, and subversive world have still gone unmatched in modern cinema. Influenced by many, but still the reigning champion of boundary-pushing movies, “Funeral Parade of Roses” includes a line of dialogue towards the end that provides the most accurate summary – “Such a unique film with cruelty and laughter.”
“Funeral Parade of Roses” is not rated. 107 minutes. Opening this Friday at The Cinefamily with additional cities to follow.