Mittwoch, 12. Dezember 2007

GARP Punch and Judy 5. What has led on from Punch and Judy?

5. What has led on from Punch and Judy?

How has Punch and Judy influenced other artists and visual communicators?
Do the shows still exist? If so do they resemble the “original’ shows closely?
Since the arrival of Punch and Judy one can see how it has influenced many artists and visual communicators.
Here are some examples of work I have found that have been either re-interpreted the show or used elements from it to inspired their work.

Jan Svankmajer

Whilst looking for images on Punch and Judy on the Internet, I came across Jan Svankmajer’s film, “Punch and Judy” a ten-minute animation, made in 1966.

I think this animation is wildly imaginative, original and bizarre. This is most definitely one of my favourite animations of all time.
I had heard a little about his work before but had never come into close contact with it. I can see that Svankmajer will be a major source of inspiration for my work.

His work has been described as “ bizarrely beautiful: a witty blending of the perverse, the macabre, and the child-like”

Talk here about Svankmajer being a revolutionary animator, amazing brilliant blab la add a quote “Most memorable and unique animation films ever made” put in man’s name here. Cutting film etc

Jan Svankmajer was born in 1934 in Prague where he studied at the ‘Institute of Applied Arts’ and then went on to study at the ‘Prague Academy of Performance’ in the department of Puppetry. He also crafted masks for the famous ‘Black Theatre’ and was involved in the ‘Magica Puppet Theatre’.

At the age of 8, Svankmajer received a toy puppet theatre as a Christmas present. This was the beginning of his life-long fascination with puppetry and marionettes.
As one can see, Svankmajer had a close connection with puppetry. Therefore, it was inevitable he would refer to the wonderful Punch and Judy at some point in his life.

His connection and involvement in puppetry is apparent in many of his films/animations for example in ‘Et Cetera’ (which was also made in 1966).

(insert JS image with ‘Et Certera’)

I have noticed many similarities and differences between the animation by Jan Svankmajer and a typical Victorian performance of ‘Punch and Judy’. Here, I will compare and contrast the two performances;


The music replicates the music that would have played at the Victorian fairs such as
The music is also used in a similar way by punctuating ‘funny moments’ for the audience to laugh.

(insert JS image with Victorian people)

Svankmajer uses Victorian imagery throughout the animation. Here is an example above.

The humour is very dark and surreal, which is very similar to the humour and surreal atmosphere used in the ‘Punch and Judy’ shows.
Jan Svankmajer was part of the Czech Surrealist group and was married to a surrealist artist so he became very involved in making work in this style.

The feeling of the ‘Punch and Judy’ animation is as described by Michael O’Pray, film writer on BBC documentary “The Animator of Prague” as “very shocking, very aggressive and violent”.
I strongly agree upon this; the theme of conflict, death and destruction is used throughout both performances. For example, in the ‘Punch and Judy’ performance Punch beats both the child and Judy, in Svankmajer’s animation the clown figure (who is perhaps meant to represent Judy) and Punch continually try to beat each other to death in a “bloodthirsty fend over Punch’s pet guinea pig using infernal machines and a selection of woodmaking tools in their attempts to polish each other off”
(Allistair Woolley, Jan Svankmajer short films,

(insert JS image with Punch with hammer)


In Svankmajer’s animation he uses a guinea pig instead of a baby that is used in the ‘Punch and Judy’ show.
Punch and the clown/ harlequin stroke the guinea pig in a bizarre fashion. They inspect its eyes, hair, ears and mouth. The guinea pig seems completely unaware of what they are doing. Here we have the surreal sense of humour coming through.
I really love this part of the animation; it made me laugh hard, out loud. Afterwards, I felt quite guilty about laughing like this as it was a bit unfair for the guinea pig to be carried around by a puppet. This sort of laughter would be the same as was expected from the ‘Punch and Judy’ shows.

( image JS here Punch with guinea pig)

There is no speech in the animation (unlike in a ‘Punch and Judy’ show) but you still get a strong sense of narrative through the music and strong images that play, eventhough the plot is peculiar and absurd.

What is interesting about Svankmajer’s animation is the sharp editing and cutting, “wickedly ironic shorts” (Allistair Wooley). Unlike the live performance of ‘Punch and Judy’ you see the animation version from many angles and perspectives.
The fast pace and unusual editing of this stop-motion animation gives it a contemporary feel by presenting the ‘Punch and Judy’ show in an original way. Svankmajer has updated the original show through his mind and vision to make it more relevant for modern viewers.

Modern day ‘Punch and Judy’ shows
Hypocritical in this modern day, we have many, many programmes that are heavily violent that are easily accessible and acceptable for young children. Such as a cartoon that is influenced heavily by ‘Punch and Judy’, ‘Tom and Jerry’ where a cat and a mouse constantly try to beat up or kill one another. The plot in each episode has a very similar structure; it all leads to destruction and abuse of one another.
This uses the slapstick comedy that is used throughout as ‘Punch and Judy’ show that will get the same sort of l characters in the Punch and Judy show. However, many people see The ‘Punch and Judy’ show is now unacceptable for children to be entertained by. Why is that we accept it on television but yet not when it is performed with puppets?

Pic of punch and judy next to tom and jerry

I found a website ( that offers advice to people who want to do their own ‘Punch and Judy’ show but without the violence. They give advice such as,

“After the baby sequence Judy pops up again and there is traditionally a knock down sequence. The non violent approach could have Judy going off to fetch a policeman.”

(Van der Craats, Christopher, 10/12/07)

Another suggestion was that instead of the scene where Punch throws the child outside of the window:

“Punch can accidentally drop the baby out the window. Or he can put it in the cupboard and forget where he put it.
I once performed this sequence singing "Rockabye baby" having the children sing along and thus inadvertently implicating them in Punch's crime when it came to "down will come baby cradle and all". Never do that.”

(Van der Craats, Christopher 10/12/07)

I can understand the reason in doing this and would support it to some respect. However, I feel disappointed to have lost out and some of the character of the original show. Having said that, I do find it amusing how they suggest that Punch should put the baby in a cupboard. I think that instead of removing all of the violent parts (which is partly why the show is so loved and laughed at), it should be altered to more amusing ideas like the above. This would then update the show in a more interesting way. But would this strip the show of all it’s remembered and enjoyable elements or would this make it more relevant and acceptable for today’s audience?

On Wednesday 12th December, it was decided that all parents are banned from shaking their children, hitting them on the head or beating them with implements were approved by MSPs last night. These discussions over the past few years have lead to fewer ‘Punch and Judy’ shows to be performed. ‘Punch and Judy’ is a show that is seen to promote violence against children, when Punch says after he tricks and hurts another character, “That’s the way to do it”

However, there are also thoughts about bringing back Punch and Judy where BBC have done research and found out that the ‘Punch and Judy’ show is amongst of the nations favourite icons of Britain.

Charles Dickens

Another example of Punch and Judy’s presence in work is in Charles Dickens ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ (1841). It has been suggested that it has something of the structure of a traditional performance of ‘Punch and Judy’ and the story also includes a pair of Punch Puppeteers, Tom Codlin and Will Short.

Here are some examples of products, artefacts and writing that has been inspired by ‘Punch and Judy’,

Pictures to be inserted

Punch and Judy pottery by Wade
The stamps by Royal mail
Radio3 show
Lucky charms
The concept of the box and how that is used
Paul Klee hand puppets particular ones that he has made that are similar to Punch
Fancy dress parties-Punch outfit, at Shaun Bass’

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