Hiroshi Teshigahara's camera takes us over, under, around, and into buildings and a park designed by Antonio Gaudí (1852 - 1926), Catalan architect, ceramist, and sculptor. Teshigahara ... See full summary »
Amorality in Japan. Tome is born into poverty in rural Japan, in the late 1910s. Chuji, her father, dotes on her; her mother is less faithful. Tome becomes a neighbor's mistress, works at ... See full summary »
A day in the life of Ako, a 16 year old Japanese girl, and her friends and co-workers. An alarm clock wakes her in a dorm; she gets ready for work and travels to a large bakery. We see her ... See full summary »
Eight filmmakers collaborate with Teshigahara to bring a newsreel-style snapshot of Tokyo in 1957-58, when it had eight and a half million people and was the largest city in the world. The ... See full summary »
A documentary fantasy. Penniless miners talk in passing about labor unions. A miner and his young son go to a village in Kyushu where the miner has been told he'll find work, but it's a ghost town, save for one woman. The miner leaves and is followed by a man in a white suit and white gloves. A murder takes place: faked footprints, bribery and intrigue, investigations, a frame-up, and a ghost who wants to know why meet in a story of realism and the surreal. A child mutely witnesses all. Does the truth count for anything in this world or in the next? Can everything be manipulated? Written by
Pitfall is the first film of what I like to call Teshigahara's Trilogy of Identity, succeeded by Woman of the Dunes and The Face of Another. The links these films share is that they're collaborations between Teshigahara, novelist Kobo Abe and composer Toru Takemitsu, they're shot in B&W, and they offer interesting takes on one's identity and how its fragility may be manipulated.
Pitfall's plot goes on at a leisure and really takes its time to build up, and while that quirk of its does manage to make the film feel like it's completely disconnected to reality and produce an unique supernatural atmosphere, it also goes nowhere, fails to build suspense and the execution overall falls flat and looks incomplete.
I like some of the ideas, like the mysterious killer in white, a mix of various genres and a distinct sense of voyeurism enhanced by camera angles (which was also heavily used in Yoshishige Yoshida's Woman of the Lake), but the first half of the film is quite dull and offers little to none interesting imagery despite Teshigahara's satirical visions being fresh on paper. Later when it gets going it still feels like something is missing A better resolution maybe?
Teshigahara called this, his first feature film, a "documentary fantasy" and one can easily see why. Elements of social realism concerning the miners are mixed with a ghost story (in midst of all the other genres). A bold move and one of Pitfall's most original qualities, along with the cold and geometrical filming style.
Interestingly enough, Criterion's edition of the three films has a huge fingerprint on the cover. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks that identity is the crucial theme in this pseudo-trilogy.
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