Asterix & Obelix Take on Caesar (French: Astérix & Obélix contre César) is a 1999 Sword and Sandal comedy and the first live-action theatrical film to be based on the popular Asterix comics of René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, directed by Claude Zidi. It spawned a film series.
In 50 B.C., Julius Caesar is celebrating his victory over all of Gaul, but Lucius Detritus has kept from him that one village has managed to resist them. Detritus travels to the garrison near the village where Caius Bonus, the garrison's commanding Centurion, explains that the Gauls have a magic potion made by the druid Getafix, which makes them invincible. Detritus decides to capture the potion for himself, and hearing that the clever Asterix and permanently invincible Obelix are the backbone of the Gaulish forces, attempts and fails to eliminate them, then captures Getafix.
It stars Christian Clavier as Asterix, Gérard Depardieu as Obelix, Gottfried John as Julius Caesar, Roberto Benigni as Lucius Detritus and Michel Galabru as Vitalstatistix, amidst a huge cast of both up-and-coming and veteran French actors.
A sequel, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, came out in 2002.
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).
- 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. They barely start the torture before Getafix surrenders.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: It's quite possible that the random occurrences of swearing in the Pathé English dub are done so the movie wasn't rated U in the UK.
- Award-Bait Song: The end credits song "Elle ne me voit pas* " by Jean-Jacques Goldman, a slow, mournful ballad about Obelix's unrequited feelings for Panacea, which feels tonally at odds with a comedy film.
- 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.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: 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's bad singing to finally snap him out of the hypnosis.
- 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...
- Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: After Panacea rejects his marriage proposal, Obelix makes her drink some magic potion, so that a Doppelgänger of her appears. Obelix then starts flirting with the Doppelgänger.
- 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.
- Epic Movie: The most expensive French movie at the time of its release, with a cast full of stars and big sets. It was surpassed in all of those departments by its sequel.
- Externally Validated Prophecy: In the end, Detritus tells that he will give to Julius Caesar a list of traitors who plan to stab him in the back, which includes friends and relatives. This is an obvious reference to the assassination of Caesar.
- 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's 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.
- I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: In the end, when Obelix proposes to Panacea, she answers that he is her friend and he is like a brother for her. She does not want to make him sad, but she loves someone else.
- Insult Backfire: In the opening scene, Trolleybus tells that Detritus is even more despicable than himself. Detritus answers that he is a flatterer.
- 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.
- Make It Look Like a Struggle: When Asterix and Obelix pretend to be a Gaulish prisoner and the legionary who captured him, respectively, Obelix decides to make the ruse more plausible by punching Asterix and "capturing" him in front of the Romans.
- 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.
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Downplayed, but the costumes in the film are noticeably more "realistic" and less "straight from the pages" compared to the later films.
- Ms. Fanservice: Panacea/Falbala, who is played by Laetitia Casta in low-cut outfits.
- 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.
- Phony Psychic: The soothsayer has no psychic power. He pretends to see the future to manipulate the villagers, so that they help him in his plan to steal money from the Romans.
- 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.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: When Getafix agrees to make Detritus Magic Potion, he tricks the Romans to bring Asterix (who's locked up in a cage) next to the cauldron to say the magic words with him so that Getafix can quickly feed him the potion. Unfortunately for them, the fresh concoction is simply far too hot for Asterix to drink, and the Romans quickly pull him away from the cauldron.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Centurion Caius Bonus' actor, was clearly chosen based on his ability to make faces that say "today is not going to be a very funny day", which get pulled out in every scene when he and Obélix interact, typically by means of Obélix punching him.
- Trojan Prisoner: With Asterix as the prisoner, see Dressing as the Enemy above.
- Unwilling Suspension: The Bound and Gagged Druids at the druid conference are left hanging from a great tree by the Romans. Obelix gets them down by shaking the tree.