Punch & Prophecy
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Punch & Prophecy


A documentary film by Petrus van der Let and Elis Veit

The 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.

A film based on the motifs of the book ZIPFELMÜTZENGÖTTER – Religion als Echo der Kindheit (GODS WITH POINTED CAPS – Religion as childhood’s echo) by Petrus van der Let, Aschaffenburg 2004

Together with the film GODS WITH POINTED CAPS – Why Indra came to the Wedding on a Tricycle (45 min. version of WHERE THE GODS COME FROM) Punch & Prophecy forms a mini-series in 2 parts.

  • Format: Digi Beta, PAL, Stereo, 44 min. 20 sec.
  • Language: German, English, French, with English subtitles
  • Photography: Walter Wehmeyer, Hartmut Schulz, Benjamin Epp
  • Production: Petrus van der Let Filmproduktion in co-operation with Artia Nova Film and ORF, 3sat, BRalpha, Fernsehfonds Austria, City of Vienna, Austrian Ministry for Education, Science and Culture.
  • Distribution: vanderlet.p@aon.at
  • Broadcast: BRalpha: June 28th 2006, 9pm; 3sat November 26th 2007, 11:00pm; ORF2 February 6th 2011, 09:30am
  • DVD-Video (with English subtitles): Alibri-Verlag www.alibri.de
  • Trailer: www.youtube.com/user/AlibriVerlag
  • Interviews and off-narration: Where the Gods come from (PDF)

Video Cover