When a miner leaves his employers and treks out with his young son to become a migrant worker, he finds himself moving from one eerie landscape to another, intermittently followed (and photographed) by an enigmatic man in a clean white suit, and eventually coming face to face with his inescapable destiny. Hiroshi Teshigahara’s debut feature and first collaboration with novelist Kobo Abe, Pitfall is many things: a mysterious, unsettling ghost story, a portrait of human alienation, and a compellingly surreal critique of soulless industry, shot in elegant black-and-white. —The Criterion Collection
Hiroshi Teshigahara (勅使河原 宏, Teshigahara Hiroshi?, January 28, 1927 – April 14, 2001) was an avant-garde Japanese filmmaker.
He was born in Tokyo, son of Sofu Teshigahara, founder and grand master of the the Sogetsu School of ikebana. He graduated in 1950 from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and directed his first film, Pitfall (1962), in collaboration with author Kōbō Abe and musician Tōru Takemitsu. The film won the NHK New Director’s award, and throughout the 1960s, he continued to collaborate on films with Abe and Takemitsu while simultaneously pursuing his interest in ikebana and sculpture on a professional level.
In 1965, the Teshigahara/Abe film Woman in the Dunes (1964) was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1972, he worked with Japanese researcher and translator John Nathan to make the movie Summer Soldiers, a film set during the Vietnam War about American deserters living on the fringe… read more
Death wears a white suit, but so do a handful of other guys, and so does the sun, so good luck identifying anyone. Life and death themselves are just another set of identical twins in Teshigahara's first film, distinguishable only on the basis of who is able to communicate with whom, recapitulating the fissures that turn a union against itself when it proves incapable of entering into meaningful dialogue with management. A sometimes sharp, sometimes scattered allegory, Pitfall is an odd but beautiful protest against reality.
Also: Teshigahara’s Pitfall in Chicago, news and great reads.