While dealing drugs on the side, Gonda operates the Genet, a gay bar in Tokyo where he has hired a stable of transvestites to service the customers. The madame or lead "girl" of the bar is Leda, an older, old fashioned geisha-styled transvestite with who Gonda lives and is in a relationship. Arguably, the most popular of the girls working at the bar now is Eddie, a younger, modern transvestite. Like Leda, Eddie lives openly as a woman. Eddie's troubled life includes her father having deserted the family when she was a child, and having had a difficult relationship with her mother following, she who mocked Eddie's ability to be the man the of the family. Gonda enters into a sexual relationship with Eddie, who he promises to make madame of the bar, replacing Leda in both facets of his life, with Eddie having threatened to quit otherwise. While Leda suspects what Gonda and Eddie are up to, Gonda tells Leda what she wants to hear, much as he tells Eddie what she wants to hear. As this ...Written by
In a key moment around the half-way mark in Toshio Matsumoto's Funeral Parade of Roses, the young protagonist Eddie, a transsexual working in Tokyo, stabs his mother's lover and then his mother himself. Matsumoto's film is full of Oedipal subtexts, but here Eddie kills his mother to (perhaps) get to his father, so it is the reverse of the Oedipus story. In fact, most of the film is 'backwards' in the traditional sense, full of narrative tricks, contrasting styles and shifts in tone, moving from melodrama to documentary to horror with each scene.
Eddie (played by real-life queen Pita) is a drag-queen working at a top Tokyo underground club ran by Gonda (Yoshio Tsuchiya). Eddie is the top attraction at the club, much to the envy of ageing madam Leda (Osamu Ogasawara). When Gonda starts a secret affair with Eddie, Leda finds out and plans to hurt and disfigure Eddie in her jealousy. Running alongside this fictional storyline are various interviews with the real-life queens who act in the film, who offer insights about life in Tokyo for queens and how the film will represent them.
There was a huge boom in Japan in the 1960's of films now known as Japanese New Wave. Funeral Parade of Roses is certainly one of the most daring and technically innovative, stripping back genre (and even cinematic) conventions to create one of the most important films in the history of Gay Cinema. This leads to an occasionally confusing and head- spinning film, that can switch quickly from a generic love scene to a moment of avant-garde (an argument between two queens have them shouting at each other with speech bubbles) to a bloody set-piece. One of the most inspirational films to come out of Japan, this was a favourite of Stanley Kubrick's, and no doubt the scenes that are played out in fast- forward were an influence on A Clockwork Orange (1971). Uncompromising, unapologetic cinema.
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