There have, to date, been eight animated films based on the Asterix adventures by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. Asterix himself is a French cartoon character that first appeared serialised in a magazine in 1959, with the first full length adventure collected printed in 1960. The first animated Asterix film, Asterix The Gaul, was released in 1967.
- 1967 - Asterix The Gaul
- 1968 - Asterix And Cleopatra
- 1976 - The Twelve Tasks Of Asterix
- 1985 - Asterix Versus Cæsar
- 1986 - Asterix In Britain
- 1989 - Asterix And The Big Fight
- 1994 - Asterix Conquers America
- 2006 - Asterix And The Vikings
The traditional length of an Asterix comic book adventure has not quite been long enough for a feature film, and so various approaches have been made. Of the 8 films, two have been essentially two Asterix comic books merged together – Asterix Versus Cæsar's story comes from a combination of Asterix The Gladiator and Asterix The Legionary, and Asterix And The Big Fight is a cross between the comics Asterix And The Big Fight and Asterix And The Soothsayer. One film, The Twelve Tasks Of Asterix, is an all new story written especially for the film. The other animated adventures have all been based resoundedly on one comic adventure each. Various ways to expand on the original tales have been adopted. These include:
- Adding musical sequences and songs.
- The insertion of cute cartoon creatures, including expanding the role of existing animals such as Dogmatix.
- The insertion of new characters.
As well as more traditional methods of lengthening scenes, such as lingering over panoramic views to set the scene.
Principle Recurring Characters:
|Character||Known in France As||Description|
|Asterix||Astérix||The main hero who loves adventure. Though short, he is cunning and wins through using his wits as well as Getafix's magic potion.|
|Obelix||Obélix||Asterix's closest friend. He delivers and makes Menhirs. He fell into a cauldron of magic potion as a baby and is phenomenally strong as a result. He also has a voracious appetite; wild boars are his favourite meal, which he enjoys catching himself in the forest outside the village.|
|Getafix1||Panoramix||Getafix is a wise, old druid who knows, among other things, the secret of brewing the magic potion which gives the villagers superhuman strength. He occasionally joins Asterix and Obelix on their adventures. He never drinks the magic potion himself, which probably explains why he is so prone to being kidnapped.|
|Dogmatix||Idéfix||Obelix's pet dog. He is extremely loyal, fond of trees and will work on his own initiative to rescue magic potion when needed. He also befriends other animals easily, including a dolphin and SMS the pigeon.|
Chief Vitalstatistix is the leader of the Gauls. As chief he is usually found being carried on his shield by two shield bearers, unless he is falling off. He is married to Impedimenta, uncle to Panacea and Justforkix, and brother to Doublehelix.
Impedimenta is married to Vitalstatistix, but although he is the chief of the village she finds his lack of ambition disappointing. She would prefer to enjoy the busy life of Lutetia than the village, but tries to make the best of things. Her petname for Vitalstatistix is 'Piggywiggy'.
Cacofonix is the village bard who loves singing and playing his lyre, and occasionally a violin. Sadly, despite his enthusiasm, he has no talent and the merest hint of a note will cause Fulliautomatix to hit him with a mallet. He does, however, play successfully for the village dances seen in 'Asterix The Gaul' and 'Asterix And The Vikings'. Sadly he rarely gets to enjoy banquets as he is often found tied up to the treehouse in which he lives.
Fulliautomatix is the village blacksmith. He is tall and strong, but a bit touchy. He frequently criticises not only Cacofonix's singing but also Unhyenix's fish, which he feels are not as fresh as they should be, usually using his mallet to hammer his point home. He is married and has two children. Curiously, his hair and moustache frequently change colour between films, and are sometimes reddish brown, at other times very yellow blond.
The village fishmonger, who orders his fish from Lutetia rather than from the sea nearby as he believes they are better matured. The other villagers, especially Fulliautomatix, feel that as a consequence his fish stink and are not fresh, accusations he defends with his fists. He is married to Bacteria6
Geriatrix is almost 100 years old, by far the oldest Gaul. He does not consider himself to be so old, and will frequently get involved in fighting the Romans as well as his fellow villagers whenever fish fights begin. He is married, and his wife, known only as Mrs Geriatrix, is a quarter of his age but over twice his height.
Panacea in the animated films is the niece of Chief Vitalstatistix7. She is very young, with long, blonde, see-through hair and is quite possibly the love of Obelix's life. Sadly she does not return his affections, preferring younger man Tragicomix, whom she met in Lutitia. Her hobbies include sobbing, sighing, screaming and being helpless.
|Julius Cæsar||Julius Cæsar|
Julius Cæsar is the Roman dictator who longs to conquer the Gaulish village and send all the villagers to be eaten in the circus. He respects the villagers, but will stop at nothing to defeat them for his own political ambitions. Although he would never break his word, he does occasionally bend it in an attempt to get what he wants. Many of his Generals, however, scheme against him and his senators openly laugh at him. Julius Cæsar has a pet panther and perhaps considers Cleopatra his closest friend, as well as rival, as he feels it is lonely at the top.
The beautifully nosed Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra has a remarkable temper as well as a fine figure, and is the only person who can order Julius Cæsar around.
Asterix frequently encounter a pirate crew, the only multi-cultural international organisation shown in Asterix, and sink their ships. Although they are never actually named in the Asterix films, they have names to which they are commonly referred. Their first appearance in Asterix And Cleopatra is considerably different to all other Asterix animated appearances.
- Redbeard, also known as Bloodbeard — the blood-red bearded captain of the pirates. He has a pet parrot.
- Pegleg — the oldest pirate. He has a wooden leg.
- Baba — an African pirate usually found in the crow's nest. He often is the first to spot Asterix and Obelix and his exclaimation of 'Gau.. Gau.. Gau.... GAULS!' causes fear to strike at the hearts of the rest of the crew.
The voices in the French translation are more constant than in the English dubbed translations. In the 8 Asterix animated films, in the English versions Asterix has spoken with French, English, American and Liverpuddlian accents, as well as both high pitched and low tones. In French versions, however, Roger Carel plays Asterix throughout all the Asterix films. Similarly, only three actors have voiced Obelix in French. Jacques Morel in Asterix The Gaul and Asterix And Cleopatra, Jacques Frantz in Asterix And The Vikings, and for all other films, between 1976 and 1994, Pierre Tornade voiced Obelix.
The Asterix films are generally quite historically accurate, considering their cartoon nature. Roman historian Diodorus Siculus who wrote in the 1st Century BC, stated that the Gauls
'some of them are clean-shaven, but others – especially those of high rank, shave their cheeks but leave a moustache that covers the whole mouth.'
This shows that the look of Asterix and Obelix in the animated films is historically accurate8.
Julius Cæsar And Gaul
Strabo, another Roman historian who wrote shortly after Cæsar's conquest of Gaul, described the Gauls with the words,
'The Gauls display..... a love of ornament. They wear golden collars round their necks, and bracelets on their arms and wrists, and those of any status have garments dyed and embroidered with gold.'
It was this gold that drew Julius Cæsar's attention to Gaul. Gaul had gold coinage, a developed gold mining system and skilled jewellers, not to mention vast amounts of wealth at a time when Julius Cæsar was heavily in debt with his political career almost over. Julius Cæsar convinced the Roman senate that the Gauls were about to be overrun by the Helvetti, a migratory and peaceable Celtic tribe, which Cæsar claimed could threaten the security of Italy.
The senate appointed Julius Cæsar 'Protecter Of The Gauls' in 59BC for a five year period, in which time as the Gauls' Protecter, according to Plutarch he slaughtered over 1 million Gauls, enslaved another million and became immensely rich. He launched expeditions to Britain and Germany to try and boost his reputation at home, as he had made many political enemies in his get rich quick scheme. Fortunately a rebellion in Gaul, headed by Vercingetorix, allowed him to maintain power long enough to consolidate his position and gain wealth and political triumph.
Although there is no evidence for magic potion, there are some historic records regarding the druids. Sadly these are all written from a Roman perspective and are biased against the druids, who are considered to be enemies of Rome. Druidism apparently originated in Britain, among forests and caves and centred not, as is widely believed, at Stonehenge, but in Anglesey. Druids were was spread throughout the Celtic and Gaulish world. It took 20 years to train as a druid, and druids were among the most respected members of society, and acted not only as priest, but also as a judge.
Diodorus Siculus, writing in 36BC, shortly after the time which Asterix is set, describes druid as the intermediaries between the common people and the gods.
'These men predict the future by observing the flight and calls of birds and by the sacrifice of holy animals: all orders of society are in their power... They have an especially odd and unbelieveable method of divination in very important matters. They prepare an annointed human victim, plunge a small dagger into his chest in the area above he diaphragm; by observing the way his limbs convulse as he falls and the spurting of his blood, they are able to interpret the future.'
Diodorus comes across as strongly anti-Druid, a common Roman bias, and no definitive proof that druids engaged in human sacrifice has been found. Diodorus also reports how barbaric the Druids are by stating
'They will keep some criminal under guard for five year, then impale him on a pole in honour of their gods... they also use prisoners of war as sacrifices to the gods.'
This sort of conduct would have been completely alien to the Romans who, after capturing Gaul, imprisoned Vercingetorix for five years, put him on display and then strangled him to death to celebrate Julius Cæsar's victory.
Druidism was outlawed in the Roman Empire under the Emperors Augustus, who said that no druid could be a Roman citizen, Tiberius, who also outlawed Soothsayers, and Claudius, who made Druidic practices illegal.
Live Action Films
Three live action Asterix films have been made. These are:
- 1999 - Asterix & Obelix Take On Cæsar
- 2002 - Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra
- 2007 - Asterix at the Olympic Games
These films, despite being among the most expensive European films ever made have been tremendously successful, especially in France. They star Gerard Depardieu as Obelix, who has a greater prominence than usual. In the live action films, major characters are played by different actors in each film. Three different actors have played Getafix and Julius Cæsar, while two have played Asterix.
Asterix & Obelix Take On Cæsar comes across as a greatest hits Asterix album, with scenes and characters taken from various Asterix books assembled into a storyline which gives a real flavour of Asterix. Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra is a more coherant and stronger film, yet sadly Asterix at the Olympic Games is by far the weakest of the films made so far, with Asterix having little impact on the plot and reduced to the role of a spectator, although the character of Brutus is a welcome addition. It is, at time of writing in 2010, expected that the next Asterix live action film will be an adaptation of Asterix In Britain. A live action Asterix In Spain had been proposed after Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, but this was abandoned due to creative diffferences.
Influence – Garth And Bev
Garth And Bev is an Irish Canadian educational, charming cartoon made in 2009 that encourages children to look at the world around them and be inspired by it. The two main characters, children Garth and Bev, solve problems that arise, and are rewarded by travelling through time to meet famous inventors shortly after their moments of discovery. The third main character, the druid Grandfather Lir, is the spitting image of Getafix, Asterix's druid. Like Getafix in Asterix The Gaul, Grandfather Lir has his own cave and can conjure up magic.
The bronze-age village Garth and Bev live in is all but identical to the one part of Gaul not under Roman occupation. It is surrounded by a wooden palisade, just as the Gaulish village is, and like the Gaulish village is also located next to the sea. The villagers in Garth And Bev also enjoy eating wild boar - the favourite cuisine of Obelix.
|The Animated Asterix Films|