director Hiroshi Teshigahara
Wow. And I mean, wow.
Pitfall is indeed an amazing film, a complex interweaving of realism, social criticism, fantasy, and the surreal. Profound and weird, and deeply unsettling, stark and vivid and so, so much.
Pitfall was the first cinematic collaboration between director Hiroshi Teshigahara, writer Kōbō Abe, and composer Toru Takemitsu. But it’s the third of Techigahara’s films that I watched after The Face of Another (1966) and Woman of the Dunes (1964), and of the three, the most immediately striking, already having me recontemplating the others in retrospect.
The film starts out semi-mysteriously, with two men and a young boy, stealing away from a town, sneaking to someplace, hiding from something. And it only get more and more strange and mysterious. While we come to know these men are hiding from some authority, while trying to earn a living as miners. As the story comes into clarity, it shifts into the otherworldly, with the dead observing the living, an abandoned mining camp, littered with ghosts.
There is some significant grotesqueries from the rape of a woman to the skinning of a live frog, harsh imagery, loaded and haunting.
There are films that sit with me long after viewing. This film, for me, is just beginning.