Funeral Parade Of Roses

Funeral Parade Of Roses


Reviewed by: Merlin Harries

Toshio Matsumoto’s Bara No Sôretsu, or Funeral Parade of Roses as it was christened in the West, is a Sixties art-house take on the ancient Greek legend of Oedipus (the guy who slept with his mum and then killed his dad). Although Japan has since evolved into a pioneering nation in terms of the cinematic art, Bara No Sôretsu is like a mouthful of sushi washed down with some warm s?aki, it’s an acquired taste. The whirling maze of pop art visuals leaves you instantly disorientated only for the gleeful exploitation of the plot to kick in as Eddie, played by Hi No Tori and Ran star Peter, sleeps with his father and murders his mother.

In a predictable twist on the old Greek legend, we first find Eddie in the arms of Gureko (Furamenko Umeji) boss of the Genet Bar (the film is perforated with nonchalant references to social black-sheep/novelist Jean Genet). The plot follows Eddie’s traumatised quest to win the heart of Gureko who is also being pursued by femme-fatale Leda (Osamu Ogasawaro). It’s an ugly little love triangle further complicated by Eddie’s tortured past haunting him with hallucinatory images of his mother prodding cigarette stubs through photos of his father. The central conflict between Eddie and Leda over Gureko’s affection is the catalyst leading to the surprisingly gory climatic scenes that may leave the faint of heart retching in the aisles.

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In terms of being way out there, Funeral Parade of Roses offers a unique glimpse into a nation’s embryonic efforts at art-house cinema. The film is packed with an increasingly odd mix of animation scenes coupled with uncanny montage sequences that bring to mind Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. If you’re a fan of avante garde cinema then this may appeal or if you’re just a budding cinema fan trying to diversify then you wouldn’t go far wrong with dipping your toes into the startlingly obscure waters of Matsumoto’s film.

If you’re after a flavour of the east then this film is just the ticket providing an insight into early Japanese cinema and also a genuinely entertaining flick. The shock horror sequences where Gureko and Eddie learn the awful truth behind their ‘mystical’ attraction is a little over-kill but doesn’t detract from the pulse and style of the film. In a truly unflinching and relentless depiction of the gay subculture in sixties Tokyo, Matsumoto’s debut work will both shock and enthral.

Reviewed on: 25 Nov 2006
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Sixties Japanese avante garde take on the Oedipus legend.
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Director: Toshio Matsumoto

Writer: Toshio Matsumoto

Starring: Shotari Akiyama, Kiyoshi Awazu, Emiko Azuma, Chieko Kobayashi, Don Madrid, Osamu Ogasawaro, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Furamenko Umeji

Year: 1969

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan

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