Teshigahara's debut feature, Pitfall, was the first of his collaborations with novelist/playwright Kobo Abe and composer Toru Takemitsu. Beautifully filmed in an abandoned, postwar coal-mining town in Western Japan, it is part social-realist critique, part unsettling ghost fable. Examining themes of alienation, workers' rights, and identity, Teshigahara and Abe's exotically strange film evokes the cinema of Antonioni, Resnais, the writing of Kafka, Beckett, Carroll, and the French existentialists.

A wandering miner, looking for work with his young son, is pursued by a mysterious, silent assassin in a white suit and hat. As mistrust and killings spread through the barely populated, rundown mining community, ghosts of the dead appear, unheard by the living, yet imploring them for answers. Who is the man in white and why does he sow confusion?

Teshigahara coined the term "documentary fantasy" for this study of the powerless, impoverished worker in postwar Japan. Demonstrating a meticulous aesthetic – his father was an ikebana master and founder of the Sogetsu Foundation – Teshigahara's efforts with Pitfall earned him the NHK Best New Director award and the luxury of being released abroad.

Technical Specs

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Year: 1962
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Duration: 90 min
Colour: B/W
Alternate Title: Otoshiana