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Pitfall (1962) More at IMDbPro »Otoshiana (original title)

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Kôbô Abe (screenplay)
Kôbô Abe (story)
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Release Date:
6 June 1962 (Japan) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Daily Briefing. Merv Bloch and "The Telephone Book"
 (From MUBI. 25 January 2012, 12:41 PM, PST)

User Reviews:
Geometry of a discordant axis - an early Teshigahara masterpiece See more (12 total) »


  (in credits order)
Hisashi Igawa ... Miner / Otsuka
Sumie Sasaki ... Shopkeeper
Sen Yano ... Toyama
Hideo Kanze ... Policeman
Kunie Tanaka ... Man in white suit
Kei Satô ... Reporter
Kazuo Miyahara ... The miner's son
Akemi Nara
Tadashi Fukuro ... Second union member
Kikuo Kaneuchi ... Photographer
Kanichi Ômiya ... Second miner
Shigeru Matsuo ... Farmer
Ton Shimada ... Dead miner
Sanpei Asakura
Heiguro Matsumoto

Directed by
Hiroshi Teshigahara 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Kôbô Abe  screenplay
Kôbô Abe  story

Produced by
Tadashi Ôno .... producer
Original Music by
Toshi Ichiyanagi 
Yûji Takahashi 
Tôru Takemitsu 
Cinematography by
Hiroshi Segawa 
Film Editing by
Fusako Shuzui 
Production Design by
Kiyoshi Awazu 
Art Direction by
Masao Yamazaki 
Production Management
Hajime Funakoshi .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Yasuo Yoshino .... assistant director
Sound Department
Kenji Mori .... sound effects editor
Shigenosuke Okuyama .... sound recordist
Tôru Takemitsu .... sound designer
Camera and Electrical Department
Mitsuo Kume .... gaffer
Music Department
Tôru Takemitsu .... musical director
Other crew
Kiyoshi Awazu .... title designer
Eiko Yoshida .... archivist

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Otoshiana" - Japan (original title)
"The Pitfall" - USA
See more »
97 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
UK:15 (2004, DVD) | USA:Not Rated

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful.
Geometry of a discordant axis - an early Teshigahara masterpiece, 28 January 2009
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece

Although structurally and aesthetically experimental cinema, Teshigahara's debut proper already carries all the trademarks of an assured author and although a bit rough around the edges here and there it shows a director experimenting with his craft even as he perfects it. Japanese new-wave ferried to its logical conclusion even as it takes its first baby steps.

Based on a story by Kôbô Abe, PITFALL explores the myriad possibilities that emerge from the space where life and death overlap, as a poor miner is murdered under mysterious circumstances in the marshes near an old ghost town. His murderer, an alluring white-clad figure, buys off the silence of the one witness, a woman operating a candy store in the ghost town district, and disappears as mysteriously as he appeared. In the mean time the murdered man wakes up next to his corpse only to discover he's now a ghost.

While THE SIXTH SENSE milked a very similar idea for maximum mainstream appeal, shock twists and shallow thrills, Teshigahara is wise to allow his material to breathe. Even though a very pragmatic subplot about two rival labour unions introduced in the end of act two detracts from the existential nature of the story, like all great storytellers Teshigahara never settles for the convenient and tidy, refuses to explain what the viewer most needs explained. Personal interpretation is very important in any work and particularly in something as haunting as this. Who is the killer? Why is he doing it? Questions left open, the character cleverly typed as a seriocomic grim reaper of sorts riding around in his moped, a manifestation that invokes notions of fate by the very nature of his acts. Is there not meaning when one is not aware of it?

Teshigahara pits the dead against the dead, the living against the living and everybody against each other, ghosts quizically examining their corpses and wondering the reason of their deaths, the living deaf to their protestations and too busy being suspicious of each other. A world revolving around a discordant axis, thrown off balance and left for us to explore its geometry.

Teshigahara's direction reflecting the uncertainty and disorientation of the plot as much as Toru Takemitsu's dissonant score. A POV shot of a child introduced only for the child to walk inside its own POV shot. Jarring jump cuts that send characters jumping through space. Construction works photographed in all their derelict, abandonded glory, a ghost world for the dead to haunt. Notions of hell on earth. The ghost of the murdered man complaining he's hungry as winds rise in the soundtrack. A pack of dogs ascending a steep slope like other Sissyphi. Very precise, very geometric, the work of an assured visual director.

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