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Pitfall (1962)
"Otoshiana" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Fantasy  |  6 June 1962 (Japan)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,181 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 34 critic

A man wanders into a seemingly deserted town with his young son in search of work. But after a bit of bad luck, he joins the town's population of lost souls.


(screenplay), (story)
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Cast overview:
Hisashi Igawa ...
Miner / Otsuka
Sumie Sasaki ...
Sen Yano ...
Hideo Kanze ...
Kunie Tanaka ...
Man in white suit
Kei Satô ...
Kazuo Miyahara ...
The miner's son
Akemi Nara
Tadashi Fukuro ...
Second union member
Kikuo Kaneuchi ...
Kanichi Ômiya ...
Second miner
Shigeru Matsuo ...
Ton Shimada ...
Dead miner
Sanpei Asakura
Heiguro Matsumoto


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Fantasy


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 June 1962 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Pitfall  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

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User Reviews

Teshigahara's "Documentary Fantasy"
2 October 2014 | by (Croatia) – See all my reviews

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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