[Movie] Pitfall (1962)

  • Title: おとし穴
  • Directed by: Hiroshi Teshigahara
  • Cast: Hisashi Igawa, Sumie Sasaki, Sen Yano
  • Based on: Based on Rengoku by Kōbō Abe

It was Teshigahara’s first feature, and the first of his four film collaborations with Abe, the others being Woman in the Dunes, The Face of Another and The Ruined Map. Unlike the others, which are based on novels by Abe, Pitfall was originally a television play called Purgatory (Rengoku).


Pitfall” is Teshigahara’s another genre-breaking masterpiece – thriller, crime, ghost, and horror (?) -. The film is about struggles and conspiracies among labor unions and hidden powers in the Japanese mining industries. The social awareness of reality is depicted beautifully in the tone of surrealism. It is surprising to see how the overlapping realms of the dead and the living tell a highly realistic story. The film leads you to the dream-like visual flair that makes perfect sense of everything in its own way. 

A lot of things, which we think evil in the current society, happen in the movie – murder, bribery, perjury, rape, frame-up, and more killings -. The most intensive moments are whenever a child, the son of the first victim, witnesses all without saying or expressing emotions. He is chewing some candies or caramels and disappears when others come. 

The film shows how Teshigahara can combine story-telling, sound, and visual effects in a single piece. Highly recommended movie to watch!

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