Share this Podcast:

Four Films by Kōbō Abe and Hiroshi Teshigahara

Over a seven-year period in the 1960s, Kōbō Abe wrote the screenplays for four films directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara, three of which were based on Abe’s own novels.

That collaboration is discussed in detail in an fascinating essay over on Cinescope, which we’d definitely recommend you check out.

Below, however, are video trailers and synopses for all four films, to give you a taste of just how weird and wonderful these films turned out to be!

Otoshiana / Pitfall [1962]

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.

Suna no onna / Woman in the Dunes [1964]

An entomologist leaves Tokyo to study an unclassified species of beetle found in a vast desert. When he misses his bus back to civilization, he is persuaded to spend the night with a young widow in her hut at the bottom of a sand dune. This results is an unnerving and palpably erotic battles of the sexes, as well as a nightmarish depiction of everyday life as a Sisyphean struggle—an achievement that garnered Teshigahara an Academy Award nomination for best director.

Tanin no kao / The Face of Another [1966]

After being burned and disfigured in an industrial accident, and estranged from his family and friends, Okuyama agrees to his psychiatrist’s radical experiment: a face transplant, created from the mould of a stranger. At once further alienated from the world around him, and freed from his previous sense of his identity, Okuyama finds himself succumbing to his darker urges.

Moetsukita chizu / The Man Without a Map [1968]

A private detective is hired by a woman to find her missing husband. While his investigation is continually frustrated, the detective’s own life begins to resemble that of the man for whom he is searching.

While The Man Without a Map remains difficult to see, the other three films are all available to stream on The Criterion Channel. For readers in Australia, there are physical releases floating around, though if anyone wants to start a petition to ‘Bring The Criterion Channel Down Under,’ let us know and we’ll be the first to sign it!

Share this Podcast: