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Film / Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar

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Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar (French: Astérix & Obélix contre César) is the first live-action theatrical movie to be based on the popular Asterix comics, directed by Claude Zidi. It came out in 1999, and was the most expensive French film at the time of its release.

It stars Christian Clavier as Asterix, Gérard Depardieu as Obelix, Gottfried John as Julius Caesar and Roberto Benigni as Lucius Detritus, amidst a huge cast of both up-and-coming and veteran French actors.

A sequel came out in 2002, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra.


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Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Wimp: The movies' version of Geriatrix is much more played as a Butt-Monkey than his comic counterpart.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: The movie cherry picks characters and plot point from various comics, and blends them together in a single story. The most obvious ones are: Obelix getting a crush on Panacea as he did in Asterix the Legionary, the phony soothsayer from Asterix and the Soothsayer, the Druid conference from Asterix and the Goths, Getafix's abduction by the Romans to make the magic potion for them from Asterix the Gaul and the characters fighting in Gladiator Games like in Asterix the Gladiator. There is also a number of smaller references from other comics, including a conversation between Brutus and Caesar that is taken from Asterix and Cleopatra and the Big Bad, Lucius Detritus is partially based on Tullius Detritus, the main antagonist of Asterix and the Roman Agent (Tortuous Convolvulus in the English translation of the comic).
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  • Adaptation Deviation: The comics never outright state how long the effects of the Magic Potion last, but it can be anywhere between a few hours to a few days. In the movie however, the effects last only ten minutes.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: After torturing both Getafix and Asterix fail to make Getafix agree to brew him some Magic Potion, Detritus finally gets the druid to comply by torturing Dogmatix.
  • Bound and Gagged:
    • The Druids at the druid conference where Getafix is abducted by the Romans.
    • In compliance with the comics, Cacofonix ends up like this twice while the rest of the village has a huge banquet.
  • Composite Character: In the comics, Detritus was an agent of Caesar send to sow discord among the Gauls. Here, he has a role more similar to Crismus Bonus from the first Asterix comic.
  • Darker and Edgier: The movie is notably darker in tone than the comics, especially the scenes where Getafix and later Asterix are tortured, and Asterix being sentenced to the arena. The latter covers phobias for all tastes since it features snakes being thrown into Asterix's cage, him escaping at the last second from lions and crocodiles and perhaps most disturbingly of all sinking into a pool filled with thousands of tarantulas which cover every inch of him. And let's not even get started on the deformed brute that almost strangles him...
  • Dressing as the Enemy: to infiltrate the Roman camp and rescue Getafix, Asterix has Obelix mug a Roman for his uniform, and pretend to be a legionary who captured Asterix. Asterix also specifically instructs Obelix to stay in his assumed role at all times, until Asterix gives him the signal to stop acting.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Wouldn't be an Asterix Movie without the Gauls doing this at least once.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • When nothing else can undo the hypnosis the Soothsayer used on Asterix, Getafix sees no other choice but to use Cacofonix’ singing. That finally does the trick.
    • In the climax, even Obelix is allowed to drink the special Magic Potion since the Romans are on the verge of overrunning the village
  • Hypno Fool: the Soothsayer uses a combination of mushrooms and hypnotism to put Asterix in a trance where he imagines all his fellow Gauls to be Romans. He thus attacks Obelix, creating a distraction that allows the Soothsayer to steal the gold the Gauls stole from the Romans earlier. It takes Cacofonix’ bad singing to finally snap him out of the hypnosis.
  • Karma Houdini: the Soothsayer and his two henchmen succeed in tricking the Gauls into robbing a Roman tax collector, and then steal the gold from the Gauls by drugging and hypnotizing Asterix to distract the other Gauls. They are not seen again afterwards and face no comeuppance whatsoever.
  • Man in the Iron Mask: Detritus has Julius Caesar imprisoned with an iron mask on his head after he successfully usurps his throne. The Gauls encounter the masked Caesar while escaping from the camp, and bring him along. Only when they're back in the village do they discover whom exactly they just rescued.
  • Me's a Crowd: In the climax, to overcome the Romans led by Detritus, Getafix uses a special version of the Magic Potion to create dozens of duplicates of Asterix and Obelix.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: During the arena scene, Asterix keeps trying, and failing, to give Obelix his signal to drop the act and come to his aid, but he’s out of hearing range. And then, just as Asterix is about to be killed, Detritus unknowingly helps Asterix give Obelix the signal because he is curious what exactly Asterix is shouting to Obelix and uses his skills of lip reading to find out.
  • The Starscream: Lucius Detritus, who uses the magic potion he forces Getafix to make, and Obelix’s assistance, to overthrow Julius Caesar and have him imprisoned.
  • Trojan Prisoner: With Asterix as the prisoner, see Dressing as the Enemy above.

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