Japanese pioneer Toshio Matsumoto was one of the towering figures of the New Wave which swept Japan and changed Japanese cinema forever. Alongside the likes of Seijun Suzuki and Nagisa Ōshima, Matsumoto’s works ushered in a new era of Japanese filmmaking which had a far-reaching global impact and is studied by scholars and cinephiles all over the world to this day.
Although Matsumoto is mostly remembered for his 1969 magnum opus Funeral Parade of Roses, he made several experimental short films and documentaries throughout his career. A professor at Arts, Matsumoto once explained in an interview: “Thinking about the core of art in the 1960s–70s, it is important to remember its historical background and the fact that there was an overwhelming paradigm change of viewpoints, feelings and values.”
For this edition of Short of the Week, we have selected a particularly enigmatic film by Toshio Matsumoto called For My Crushed Right Eye which chronicles the psycho-sphere of Japan during the late ’60s. Structured in the form of multiple projectors, the film uses experimental techniques to present images that stay embedded in the minds of the audience.
Matsumoto’s work was often described as pop art but he never really thought of himself as a pop artist. However, he did acknowledge that pop art was powerful enough to create alternative avenues: “Naturally, pop art also participated in creating this turning point and I think it opened up new horizons.”
He also noted that this short film can also be seen within the frameworks of pop art in a generalised way. “The relationship between pop art and my works from that time can be seen in different forms,” Matsumoto claimed, “for example in the multilayered appropriations of posters, commercials and popular songs in For My Crushed Right Eye.”
“I think it was right that while echoing the big changes of the 1960s and 1970s, I always tried to fight against psychosomatic rigidity,” Matsumoto reflected. “This mindset has basically not changed to the present day.”
Watch the iconic short film For My Crushed Right Eye by Toshio Matsumoto below.