Anti-Oedipus: The Ethics of Performance and Misrecognition in Matsumoto Toshio’s Funeral Parade of Roses


Something is awry in Matsumoto Toshio’s contemporary retelling of the Oedipus legend in Funeral Parade of Roses (Bara no sōretsu, 1969). The catastrophe in which Eddie blinds himself with a knife is an act that foregoes a preceding moment of Aristotelian tragic recognition. The truth of Oedipus as the intolerable realization of incestuous unions with a parent cannot be said to have broken in upon Eddie. What survives of the legend in being transposed to the subcultural Tokyo of Shinjuku’s bar scene is external performance. Freud’s universalization of Oedipus’s predicament is treated, in one respect, with an exaggerated literalness: not only is the presence of incestuous desires acknowledged as a phenomenon of psychical life, but the unwitting homosexual incest between Eddie (Peter) and his estranged father Gonda (Tsuchiya Yoshio) furthermore issues in the son’s self-blinding. But whereas the actor playing Eddie ostensibly steps out of character to discuss the Oedipal dimension of the relationship in an interview within the film, Eddie himself is denied the evidence on which to convict himself of incest. The myth of Oedipus is hollowed out, with its sequence of actions transformed into a ceremony whose meaning has grown opaque.

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