405. Punch and Judy – Jan Svankmajer

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SUMMARY: Punch and Judy engage in a fight to the death over a guinea pig.

WHY IT’S HERE: Jan Svankmajer’s ‘Punch and Judy’ is a classic of puppet animation which typifies the grotesquery of some of the director’s most famous work, including his 1980s feature ‘Alice’. It follows the story of Punch and Judy’s fight to the death over custody of a live action guinea pig. As Punch and Judy’s war becomes more vicious, with mallets, nails and coffins coming into play, the guinea pig remains hilariously indifferent, apparently oblivious to the whole thing. ‘Punch and Judy’ manages to expose its famous bad-taste seaside attraction as the horrifying freak show it is while also tapping into why audiences have found it so frequently entertaining. Why this sort of thing is associated with days at the beach, ice creams and lemonade is anybody’s guess and by removing it from this context and placing the story into an audience-free dark corner of nowhere, Svankmajer creates a haunting comedy of brutal extremes.

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