Punch & Judy bargaining over a gorgeous guinea pig
In this "charming film", Svankmajer goes back to the roots of malcontent puppetry... Punch & Judy!
The film starts with a clockwork portrait of a blissful, domestic family scene... but then the camera goes around to the back of the clockwork, and we see all of the gears and springs that are making the family perform so harmoniously. Apparently, this family is acting out of mechanical habit rather than love! Of course, domestic turmoil is a classic part of the Punch & Judy stories.
A puppeteer's hands enter a pair of Punch & Judy puppets as we move over to the stage.
Punch walks onstage, carrying a real, live Guinea Pig, which is almost as big as Punch. He sets down the pig, gets a bowl of seeds for it, and watches it eat. There are many loving shots of the pig's chewing incisors as Punch pets it blissfully.
Judy, looking rather manly, walks onstage, notices the pig, and immediately covets it beyond all reason. He offers some cash... not enough. More cash... okay. Well, not really okay.
Punch wants more, so he gets his mallet and goes after Judy. In a long scene, Punch batters Judy mercilessly with his mallet, until Judy is apparently dead. Punch puts Judy in a casket (with beautiful pictures lining it), covers the casket with candles, and has a little ceremony.
Now, the newspaper wallpaper in Judy's house comes animatedly to life, haunting Punch... he looks outside... the casket is open and empty! We a beautiful picture of a skeleton at the bottom of the casket.
Judy kills Punch with the mallet and nails him into the casket, a nail going through Punch's head. But even that can't keep our Punch down! He pushes out the nails, rises up, and they have a huge mallet battle which flows over onto the clockwork family scene, and even includes the puppeteer getting his finger bashed.
Eventually, both puppets are pulp. The camera flows over the stage, finally focusing on the Guinea Pig, who nonchalantly climbs through a "mouth" on a backdrop. The end.
Check out the Svankmajer pages that I have completed; these include stills and many quicktime movies:
This page was created 7/14/96.
All content compiled/edited by Tim Fitzpatrick, except where noted.