One of the most iconic films of all time, A Clockwork Orange, has often divided audiences with its ultra-violence and supreme villain Alex DeLarge. The character rules the roost as the king of this film adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel. However, the film’s visceral vision of the future was a highly informed one with Kubrick often describing the pursuit of achieving such a style as “merciless”—but the film can also thank another piece of cinema for its definitive look and feel.
Toshio Matsumoto’s classic Funeral Parade of Roses, his first feature film, was been cited as an overarching influence on the mise-en-scene of Kubrick’s dystopian nightmare. Released in 1969, two years before DeLarge and his cronies were prowling the streets, Matsumoto’s style can be seen in many of Kubrick’s own scenes with multiple similarities occurring between the two pictures.
Funeral Parade of Roses isn’t just noteworthy because of Kubrick’s leanings either, the film is a bastion of free-spirited creativity as it focuses on the LGBT scene of 1960s Tokyo. Using largely amateur actors to tell its story, the film follows the main protagonists through a series of both fiction and documentary styles. It allows the audience to feel both enchanted and evoked by the stories they see transpiring in front of them.
There are more than a few similarities between the two films but one palpable aspect they share is the use of sequences that have been filmed in still frames. It allows for maximum impact and brings the audience into the beating heart of the emotion on screen.
The use of music is also similarly used, allowing the tempo of whatever is playing to speed up the action on the screen, for example as DeLarge proposes a threesome with two women or when the heroines of Funeral Parade of Roses try to hide their stash of drugs from the police. It has the ability to make what one is watching feel holistic and encompassing without feeling overbearing.
There are also some notable mirrors in DeLarge’s iconic over-sized eyelashes, something which our heroines also use to hypnotic effect. That’s all without even scratching the surface of our two main protagonist’s penchant for violence. All in all, they are two pieces of cinema which deserve to be seen by everyone, preferably one after the other, if you can handle it.
Kubrick certainly isn’t the only director to be inspired by the Japanese new wave but he’s certainly one of the best to have brought a similar vision to modern western cinema. Funeral Parade of Roses has recently been reissued by Carlotta Films but only with French subtitles, a trailer of which you can see below.