Feb 7, 2010

14th Feb 2010; Teshigahara's PITFALL

A film by Hiroshi Teshigahara
Year : 1962
Country: Japan
Run time: 97 min
Japanese with English subtitles
14th Feb 2010; 5.45pm
Perks Mini Theatre
Perks School, off Trichy Road, Coimbatore
Call: 94430 39630

A 19 minutes video essay on Pitfall will be
screened after the main screening.

Pitfall is Teshigahara's social critique on the state of the poor man working in a post-war era that questions several meanings in life and sports several characters who each represent a part of the very society that Teshigahara documents.

The director thinks of his film as being a fantasy/documentary, one which studies the way in which the working class are ill treated by the hands of their unsupportive hierarchy and it does indeed work as such.

Teshigahara’s film is mysterious, shocking, eerie, and enticing. The whole picture is visually stunning, exquisitely framed, fluidly shot, and employing some rather innovative effects work. Keeping with the tale’s stage-play roots, in many sequences Teshigahara employs long takes to capture a performance in its entirety. When the scene requires more than one angle, he reframes mid-shot rather than cutting and potentially interrupting the performance’s flow.

Similarly, Teshigahara’s use of superimpositions, reverse photography, and off-kilter shots manages to inspire awe even today. There are many amazing sequences involving ghosts, humans, and the interactions thereof, that feel completely fresh, despite having been rendered cliché in contemporary cinema. Teshigahara’s documentary skills are employed as well in many sequences featuring the protagonist ghost observing union interactions and police interrogations, the camera becoming an impartial observer, thereby facilitating the conveyance of Abe’s very serious criticism of corporate corruption.

PITFALL is a story of two worlds that coexist with no point of intersection but which nonetheless have great impact on one another. In the world of the dead, the deceased are fated to exist eternally as they were in their last moments.

Based on the experimental fiction of postwar novelist Kobo Abe, The Pitfall is a haunting, spare, and elemental, yet surreal and atmospheric portrait on alienation, spiritual bankruptcy, and moral descent. Creating his first feature film, Hiroshi Teshigahara combines the stark realism of his earlier short, documentary works represented by films such as Hokusai, a reverent overview of the works by the seminal Ukiyo-e artist, Katsushika Hokusai; Ikebana, an introductory film on the art, design, and aesthetics of floral composition; and José Torres, a two-part portrait of the humble and mild-mannered Olympic athlete and light heavyweight boxer) with the Kafkaesque psychological nightmare of Abe's allusive modern fiction in order to interweave states of consciousness and subjective realities into a compelling exposition on the nature of existence (an existential theme that is also explored in another feature, Woman in the Dunes.)
(Source : Internet)

Hiroshi Teshigahara

Hiroshi Teshigahara, a celebrated Japanese filmmaker and grand master of the Sogetsu School for flower arrangement. Mr. Teshigahara, who gained international acclaim for his avant-garde films and artwork, sent shock waves through the world of cinema in 1964 with the release of ''Suna no Onna'' (''Woman in the Dunes''), a haunting, poetic and timeless metaphor made in Japan. The film, written by Kobo Abe and based on a novel by him, won a special award at the Cannes International Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for best director and best picture.

Noted for its technical brilliance, originality and power, the film featured a city-bred entomologist who is tricked into living with a widow whose shack rests at the bottom of a deep, inescapable sand pit, where he is forced to shovel sand endlessly. The detainee finds entrapment and escape into his ultimate destiny.

Mr. Teshigahara became interested in Surrealism and the avant-garde as an art student in the 1940's. In 1962 he made his first feature film, ''Otoshiana'' (''Pitfall''), also written by Abe. The director established his own production company and went on to make a series of films, often with Abe. In addition to ''Woman in the Dunes,'' his films included ''Tanin no Kao'' (''The Face of Another'') in 1966 and ''Moetsukita Chizu'' (''The Ruined Map'') in 1968.

In the late 1960's Mr. Teshigahara was the toast of the international film community, appearing at festivals, collecting awards and promoting Japanese film. After releasing ''Natsu no Heitai'' (''Summer Soldiers'') in 1972, Mr. Teshigahara withdrew from feature filmmaking and turned his attention to ceramics and experimental cinema.

After a 17-year hiatus, Mr. Teshigahara returned to films in 1989 with ''Rikyu,'' about the subtle conflict between a petty warlord and a distinguished master of the ancient art of the tea ceremony. It won the award for best artistic contribution at the Montreal World Film Festival. His last film was ''Goh-hime'' (''Basara: The Princess Goh'') in 1992.

He is survived by his wife, Toshiko Kobayashi, a former actress, and two daughters.

(Source:New York Times)

1 comment:

மீனாட்சி சுந்தரம் said...

Dear Mr. Anand:

Thanks for introducing World Cinema to Coimbatorians. I am making a list of movies to watch from your blog. Keep up the good work.

Meenakshi Sundaram