Punch & Prophecy (2006)

This documentary film follows Punch’s ancestors back to the common origin of theatre and religion. Just like today’s Punch, Kasperl, Pulcinella, and Polichinelle, more than 3000 years ago the child god Indra in the Old-Indian Rig Veda must defeat a smiling monster. Indra is repeatedly referred to as little bird, and bird-men play a major role in the antique comedy in Greece and Rome.

In the improvisation theatre of the Italian Renaissance traveling theatres make the comical bird Pulcinella famous all over Europe. In England, this character becomes Punch, in France Polichinelle. Also Mozart’s Papageno follows this tradition. The Persian prophet Zarathustra vilified the zestful Indra; this is why Nietzsche chose him to be the main character in a farce. In "Thus spoke Zarathustra" he lets the prophet recant, but as his disease progresses he more and more identifies with him: the farce becomes prophecy. 


In German, English and French with English subtitles. 

Punch & Prophecy (2006)

  • Duration: 45 minutes

    Directed by Petrus van der Let & Elis Veit


    Produced by Petrus van der Let Filmproduktion, Artia Nova Film, 3sat, ORF, BRalpha, Fernsehfonds Austria, Stadt Wien, and bm:bwk


    Along with "Gods with Pointed Caps",  "Journey to the Cradle of Europe", and "Dragon Slayers", "Punch and Prophecy" forms a 4-part series on the origin of myths and religions in infant perception. 

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