This grossly under looked and painfully unknown art film should be at the top of any experimental or avant garde film student's list. It certainly was for Stanley Kubrick, who was clearly influenced by the techniques and style of this film when he directed A Clockwork Orange.
Director Toshio Matsumoto is a daring experimenter, using all sorts of crazy-awesome techniques for the very first time in cinematic history to tell the Oedipus Rex story set in 1969 Tokyo centered around a drag queen bar. Matsumoto was daring in his subject matter too, using “seven real gay men!” as the trailer exclaims, to portray dramatic versions of themselves, not as freaks and spectacles (although the movie was billed as an exploitation picture) but, as one of the actors says in a candid interview in the movie within a movie, the film shows the gay lifestyle as “beautiful”.
I expected a more kinetic and chaotic movie, but for all its bizarre opulence, Funeral Parade of Roses is a thoughtful, genuinely artful exploration of a subculture. This only recently came to DVD in the UK care of Eureka!, I do hope Criterion follows suit, as this needs to find a wider audience.
It's hard to believe this innovative film is almost 40 years old. How little we've come when this is still too “out there” for most audiences, and more than ever its subjects are misunderstood and abhorred.