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Film Description:

Parable – “The story begins as an old fashioned circus parade is traveling through the countryside. In the back of the parade is a simple clown dressed in white almost like a harlequin, riding atop a donkey. There are no words, just music and pantomime like action, giving the film the feel of an old time Punch and Judy show. The circus is inhabited by typical characters, all seeming to have hardship in their lives. And at the top of the food-chain is Magnus, the grand puppeteer, performing his diabolical shows where he strings up human beings as living marionettes and controls their every move. In this bizarre world comes the clown, a character of good will. He helps each person with their individual hardships, taking their place and carrying their burdens for them. And from his goodness he gains followers; a wondering batch of misfits who cannot help but be moved by the clowns good heart. But the final encounter is with Magnus, who is filled with hate. The clown takes the place of Magnus’s …” Written by Eric Forsberg

“A true auteur of the often unjustly unsung genre of sponsored films, Rolf Forsberg has written and directed a number of highly stylized expressionistic shorts that defy simple description, including the controversial and acclaimed Parable (1964), which was named to the National Film Registry last year. While many of Forsberg’s films were made on assignment for major religious organizations, his complex body of work is unexpectedly provocative, independent and experimental.

Illustrating key influences, including Bergman and Fellini, Forsberg employs enigmatic symbolism and poetic lyricism to create vivid, nightmarish allegories situated between the spiritual and the secular, heaven and hell. UCLA Film & Television Archive is pleased to celebrate Rolf Forsberg’s uniquely humanist canon with a selection of some of his most notable films and a conversation with the filmmaker himself.”

Depictes Jesus as a circus clown and was the inspiration for Godspell.

“Forsberg’s film is thoughtful and beautifully handled.” — Time Magazine

Release Date: (DVD) TBA!

Parable - Christian Movie, Film from Rolf Forsberg, Tom Rook - CFDb 16mm


  • Tom Erhart … Punch
  • Madhur Jaffrey … The Magician’s Assistant
  • Saeed Jaffrey … Circus Worker
  • Clarence Mitchell … The Clown
  • Gordon Oarsheim … Magnus
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Add a Comment
  1. Jim Elland says
    05 May 14, 12:49am

    Love this film…the ending is powerful understanding of the meaning of resurrection–Do you know if and when this film will be released purchase?!!

  2. Annelie says
    05 May 14, 7:25am

    Sorry, not sure.


  3. Catherine says
    23 September 14, 2:27pm

    This film gave me nightmares as a child. I attended a Catholic elementary school and remember them holding assemblies to show this film. I was terrified – probably only in 2nd grade. I have been trying to find the name of this to see if anyone else remembered. This may have given rise to my fear of clowns and the “crucifiction” scene with the puppeteer was much to intense and scary for children. I still get the chills just looking at the photos above.

  4. Annelie says
    24 September 14, 8:57am

    Sorry Catherine – I just took that photo off too. It’s a bit creepy to me too. I haven’t seen the film but I’ve never been a fan of clowns (pretty sure it’s due to some horror films I watched as a child). Now that you said what you did, I don’t want to watch it. I wonder if anyone got a good message out of the film???


  5. Chris says
    20 November 15, 5:30am

    I was about 8 years old when I saw this at the NY World’s Fair. It has been a bad memory for over 50 years for me. I’m hoping that my parents had no idea what we would see when we went into the exhibit. I almost want to watch it to see it it is as terrifying as I remember it being.

  6. Jim says
    27 April 16, 7:32pm

    This a gripping and powerful film; would love to see let again. Is it available?

  7. Annelie says
    27 April 16, 8:10pm

    We haven’t heard yet about when it might be available.

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