[Marxism] Pitfall

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jun 23 14:01:30 MDT 2008


For an interesting mixture of Marxist politics and surrealist 
film-making techniques, I recommend Hiroshi Teshigahara’s 1962 “Pitfall” 
(Otoshiana) that I rented from the estimable Netflix. Teshigahara is 
best-known for “Woman in the Dunes”, the movie that followed his first 
feature. “Pitfall” is based on a stage play by Kobo Abe, the Japanese 
novelist and long-time collaborator of Teshigahara who wrote the novel 
that “Woman in the Dunes” is based on. Abe was a member of the Communist 
Party while Teshigahara belonged to an artist’s circle called “Night 
Association” that Abe founded. Like Communists everywhere in the world 
in this period, Abe was beginning to become disenchanted. The screenplay 
for “Pitfall” reflects an artist in transition, while “Woman in the 
Dunes”, a more fully realized work of art, reflects a post-political 
outlook.

“Pitfall” not only combines class struggle politics with surrealism, it 
also includes other styles and genres including a ghost story 
reminiscent of “Ghost”, the Patrick Swayze/Whoopie Goldberg vehicle, a 
detective story in keeping with the hard-boiled film noirs of the 
post-WWII period, the French new wave, and Italian neo-realism. 
Teshigahara was bursting at the seams creatively when he made his first 
movie.

The main character in “Pitfall” is Otsuka (Hisashi Igawa), an itinerant 
coal miner not that much different from those in China today who were 
dramatized in the excellent “Mine Shaft”. He is followed from mine to 
mine by his young son who is totally dependent on him after what we 
assume was the death of his mother. Unlike the father and son pair in 
“Bicycle Thief”, there is no love lost between the two. His father pays 
little attention to the boy who trails after him mutely like a pet dog. 
The father is fixed entirely on survival and his big dream is to work in 
a union site.

full: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/pitfall/




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