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Western Animation / Asterix and Cleopatra

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Asterix and Cleopatra (Astérix et Cléopâtre in French) is a 1968 French-Belgian animated film based on the Asterix comic book series and directed by the latter's creators themselves, René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, in collaboration with Pierre Tchernia on the script. It is an adaptation of the album of the same name. Gérard Calvi composed the soundtrack again after his work on the previous film, Asterix the Gaul.

Julius Caesar provokes Cleopatra VII by saying Egyptians are decadent and not capable of building anything significant anymore. Cleopatra retaliates by betting she can have a gigantic palace built for him in three months. To do so, she tasks the (pretty inept) architect Edifis with it, and shall he fail to pull it off, she would feed him to her crocodiles. Edifis remembers that his distant friend, the Gaulish druid Getafix, can make a potion that grants tremendous strength, and sets sail for his village. Getafix agrees to follow him in Egypt, and so do Asterix and Obelix. Once they get to Egypt, the Gauls have to thwart the attempts by both rival architect Artifis and the Romans to ruin the palace's construction.

For the tropes common to both the comic book and the film, see the comic book's page.

Tropes specific to the film include:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The film adds Cleopatra taking a bath (complete with a song and her goofy lion's antics), a second encounter with the pirates, a Disney Acid Sequence song about Obelix's appetite, a Villain Song about the making of the poisoned cake, as well as an attempt by Caesar to quietly neutralize Getafix.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief: Cleopatra's lion, complete with Amusing Injuries and trying to sing.
  • Adapted Out: Edifis' scribe does not appear.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Cleopatra's lion is orange, and the crocodiles are green.
  • Animation Bump: The animation was noticeably better than that of Asterix the Gaul, which came out the year before.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: How Artifis managed to make a cake (in the English dub) without eggs or flour is never explained (it's pudding in the French version). It's even lampshaded as, just before turning the large bowl of toxic batter upside down on the table without having baked it (revealing it as looking quite like a normal cake, which has somehow already been frosted), Artifis gives a wink to the viewer, as if to say "Just wait till you see our little trick!". It isn't explained, either, how he was able to bake something that contains petrol without exploding along with his mixture.
  • Artistic Title: The opening credits are made of uncolored comic book-like panels getting briefly animated.
  • Blackface: Inversion. The African pirate in the pirate's nest turns white from fear when he sees the Gauls appear. This gag has been removed in some home video and TV versions.
  • Depending on the Artist: None of the pirates look like their comic book counterparts, the Redbeard stand-in chief among them.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Obelix's "When You're Eating Well You're Well" ("Quand l'appétit va tout va" in French).
  • Early Adaptation Weirdness: The pirates look different in this film than in the comics and the later animated films. The captain is taller and more muscular, and his hair is more orange than red. The lookout in the crow's nest is smaller, and the wisecracking old pirate is replaced by a parrot.
  • Hong Kong Dub: The animated film pulls this gag at the beginning with a poorly-dubbed Egyptian. The book pulls the same gag, and it has an extra layer there: that it's pulled at all, because it's in a comic.
  • Informed Attribute: Cleopatra's lion is brought to her during her bath. The servant who brings it on a leash has to sing about the animal symbolising courage and the like (while thinking otherwise). Indeed, the animal is really just a goofball.
  • Made of Iron: Cleopatra's taster. It's a miracle he doesn't die on the spot after tasting the poisoned cake (just have a look at what it contains below in the Tampering with Food and Drink entry) made by Artifis, which seemingly just gives him stomach pains. It might be fatal to him eventually, but by the time Getafix gives him the antidote, quite a few hours have likely passed.
  • Mickey Mousing: Lots of this, especially with the magic potion-empowered Egyptian workers effortlessly passing stone blocks around.
  • Ode to Food: When Obelix is hungry, he sings a song called "When You're Eating Well, You're Well" about various food and drink, including beer, boar, meat in general, cheese, and bones (for Dogmatix).
  • Pain-Powered Leap: Cleopatra's lion jumps high in the air after putting its hand in a fire bowl during the "Bath of Cleopatra" song.
  • Scary Symbolic Shapeshifting: During the "Arsenic Cake Song," while singing the line "to watch a sacred crocodile," Artifis and Krukhut turn into crocodiles for a few frames. This is not only a reference to the crocodile they're singing about, but also a reference to their wicked and murderous intentions.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: The animated film version of the special iced "Arsenic Cake" made by Artifis Exaggerates this - the cake is made almost entirely out of poison. According to the English version of the Villain Song, it is made out of: Strychnine, Hemlock, Paraffin, Opium, a Leech in Scum, Chopped Frog's Spawn, Arsenic, Narcotic, Castor Oil, Snake's Blood, Crushed Tadpole, Glue, Rat Poison, Cobra's Venom, Mandrake Root, Moldy Fruit and Vitriol. And an orange slice (for flavor). Somehow, the mixture is also Hollywood Acid, as it dissolves the spoon Artifis uses to stir it - before he adds the vitriol.
    • The Danish dub goes even further and adds some hard drugs into the mix, mentioning Heroine, Pure Morphine and Nicotine. It also mentions Aqua Regia, sulfuric acid and baldrian.
  • Theme Tune: The previous film's theme was reprised and rearranged, with an Ancient Egypt flavor to it.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Arsenic Cake doesn't just contain arsenic, but also a multitude of other poisons that are all deadly on their own. And that's still not enough to kill Cleopatra's taster on the spot, it merely gives him stomach pains.
  • Villain Song: "The Arsenic Cake" ("Le pudding à l'arsenic" in French), sung by Artifis and Krukhut as they prepare said poisoned cake with glee in order to frame the Gauls.
  • Walk Like an Egyptian: Several instances of this.
    • Cleopatra's maids during her bath song scene — who are followed by her lion walking on two legs somehow.
    • Some of the workers on the palace's construction site as they carry stones.
    • The traffic cop seen in the streets of Alexandria after the opening credits takes a similar hieroglyph pose and stands there, motionless, while another Egyptian turns him around to regulate traffic.
    • One of Obelix's failed attempts at trying to get some Magic Potion from Getafix has him put a Egyptian scarf on his head (as sole disguise) and walk this way. Then he wonders why Getafix still recognizes him.
  • You Don't Look Like You: In the comic book, the spy Caesar sends on the construction site is a regular Egyptian who gets to taste the magic potion. In the film, he's a mysterious shapeshifter and master of Chameleon Camouflage whose face is never seen (only his big nose), and he never drinks the potion.


Video Example(s):


"Arsenic Cake"

Artifis and Krukhut sing about how they are gonna frame Asterix and his friends for attempting to poison Cleopatra with an arsenic cake.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / VillainSong

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