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Western Animation / Asterix Conquers America

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Asterix Conquers America (French: Astérix et les Indiens; German: Asterix in Amerika) is a 1994 French and German animated film directed by Gerhard Hahn. It is the first (and to this day, only) Asterix film not to be made in a French-speaking country, and loosely adapts the comic book Asterix and the Great Crossing. Two songs of the film were performed by the French band Zouk Machine. Asterix is voiced by Roger Carel in French and by Craig Charles in English.

Circa 50 BC, Julius Caesar has had enough when yet another of his Roman legions is smashed to pieces by that one indomitable Gaulish village because of the magic potion of their druid Getafix, so he decides to tackle the problem at the root before conspiratorial senators exploit his humiliation. He orders his sycophant Lucullus to capture Getafix the druid (who they believe to be immortal) and throw him over the edge of the world (which they believe to be flat as a pizza).

Lucullus kidnaps both Getafix and Obelix's pet dog Dogmatix and sets sail on the Atlantic ocean, with Asterix and Obelix chasing them. Following a storm, Asterix, Obelix, Dogmatix and Getafix think they have reached the edge of the world... only to find out they have landed in a strange and beautiful new world. They meet and end up befriending a tribe of Natives (believing to be in India), and soon antagonize the tribe's evil medicine man. Meanwhile in Gaul, Caesar now sees his chance to overrun the village, and besieges it.

Asterix Conquers America provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In Asterix and the Great Crossing, The Chief's Daughter is unattractive and pudgy, and escaping marriage to her is the reason the Gauls decide it's time to go back home. In this film, she is an Indian Maiden with the body proportions of a bathing suit model and a much prettier face, and Obelix is understandably sad when he has to leave her.
  • Adaptation Expansion: While the film cuts the subplot with the Vikings, it adds two new subplots to the story:
    • Caesar wanting Getafix tossed off the edge of the world so he can conquer the village without having to face magic potion-empowered villagers anymore.
    • The evil Native American medicine man wanting to get his hands on the magic potion after Getafix uses it to best him in a magic duel.
  • Adapted Out: The film mainly adapts Asterix and the Great Crossing, but the Danish Vikings of the comic book's climax don't appear in this version. They were later amalgamated into Asterix and the Vikings, the 2006 adaptation of Asterix and the Normans.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The evergreen anachronism of the franchise, this time by the French narrator: the Colosseum DID NOT EXIST CIRCA 50 BC (at the time of The Roman Republic). It was built 120 years later, in 70 AD, at the time of The Roman Empire.
    • Romans talk about pizzas. The pizza was invented in the 19th century.
    • Getafix drops the name "Amerix" to name the land in the French version. That's over 1500 years before the man whose first name would be used to christen the Americas, Amerigo Vespucci, was born.
  • Animal Stampede: The Chief's Daughter is introduced being chased by a herd of buffalos. Obelix saves her from it.
  • Artistic Licence - Geography: Asterix and Obelix trek across a bizarrely wide array of North American landscapes ranging from East Coast forests to South Dakota and Arizona in about one day on foot, while Getafix could not have been catapulted further than the shores of the East Coast (and that catapult's range is already Toon Physics).
  • Artistic Licence – History: Romans did not believe in the Flat World theory.
  • Art Shift: There's a brief switch to CGI during the chase on the Atlantic ocean.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Getafix. In The Great Crossing, he stayed in the village and only appeared at the very beginning and very end of the comic. Here, he is abducted by the Romans and ends up in North America along with Asterix and Obelix.
    • Also the Romans, who in the comic only appeared at the start of the story and are not on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle. Here, they cause the conflict by abducting Getafix, and come very close to finally bringing the Gaulish village to its knees. And they get their asses kicked again at the end.
    • The Chief's Daughter, whose personality is more fleshed out along with the Adaptational Attractiveness. Obelix saving her from a buffalo stampede is the key to gain the trust of the villagers, and she has a personal score to settle with the evil medicine man, which she does with a bit of Getafix's magic potion. There's also a short lived love story with Obelix, instead of Obelix trying to flee marriage with her in the comics.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The Natives talk using a random mix of North American place names that were taken from words in the languages of the actual tribes that lived in those regions. Leading the medicine man to say such things as "Minnesota Manitoba MIAMI!".
  • Bears Are Bad News: The evil medicine man unleashes a vicious grizzly on Asterix as he comes to free Getafix. Asterix makes quick work of it with the magic potion.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Lucullus and the Indian medicine man, although Lucullus is technically The Dragon to Caesar.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Even on his birthday Redbeard can't avoid Asterix and Obelix destroying his ship.
  • Bullet Catch: Obelix catches a tomahawk that was thrown at Asterix and Getafix, who were tied to a totem.
  • Burp of Finality: Caesar's pet panther burps after eating Lucullus alive.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Lucullus, the sycophantic Roman patrician who Caesar tasks with kidnapping Getafix and bringing him to the edge of the world, did not appear in any Asterix comic book before. He does look (and behave) a little like Crustacius from Asterix and Obelix All at Sea, and like him he has a more gruesome fate than the average Asterix foe (Crustacius got turned to stone, Lucullus gets devoured by Caesar's pet panther).
    • The evil medicine man does not originate in any of the comic books either.
  • Catapult to Glory:
    • Lucullus catapults Getafix from his trireme, thinking they have reached the edge of the world. He lands in North America.
    • The centurion has the idea to catapult a lion on the village. Which lands right in the arms of Caesar.
  • The Chief's Daughter: Obelix saves the Native princess from a buffalo stampede, which is the key to gain the villagers' trust, and develops a crush on her, which seems to be mutual, but has to be put to rest when the Gauls have to leave America.
  • Darkest Hour: This story is the only one where the Undefeatable Little Village has been soundly militarily defeated by the Romans. With Getafix, Asterix and Obelix being stranded on the other side of the world, they don't have a source of Super-Strength anymore to negate the might of the Roman armies, and while they put up heroic last stands during The Siege, they end up prisoners to be brought to Rome for Caesar's triumph and thrown to the beasts in the Circus Maximus. Luckily, Getafix, Asterix and Obelix make it back to Gaul Just in Time.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Asterix and Obelix knock two legionaries out and steal their clothes to infiltrate the Roman camp where the Gaulish villagers are prisoners and bring them magic potion in amphoras.
  • Either/Or Title: The English dub has also been released as Asterix in America, though the on-screen title is still Asterix Conquers America.
  • Exact Words: Before attacking the Gaulish village at the beginning, the Roman centurion trains his legion by ordering it to form a "turtle" (testudo in Latin). They obey and form the shape of a literal turtle with their shields instead of the historical testudo battle formation.
  • Fantasy Landmark Equivalent: The movie has an equivalent to Mount Rushmore in North America... in 50 BC, far from South Dakota, with the faces of four natives carved in the mountain, including those of the chief and the medicine man Asterix and Obelix stumble upon.
  • Fat Bastard: Lucullus is as overweight as he is evil, complete with Evil Laughs. Throwing Dogmatix to the sharks is particularly vile as Kick the Dog acts go.
  • Flat World: Both the Romans and the Gauls believe the world is flat. The Romans capture Getafix and plan to throw him at "the edge of the world" since they believe him to be immortal. The protagonists finding out about that new continent across the ocean proves them wrong.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: One of the animators drew exposed genitalia on the beggar pretending to be legless for a couple of frames when he stands up to run out of the way of an oncoming chariot. This has managed to slip past censors even to this day.
  • Heroic Dolphin: Obelix's dog Dogmatix (Idéfix) is thrown at sea by Lucullus to be eaten by a Threatening Shark. He is saved in the nick of time by a dolphin that heroically jumps in action, knocks the shark out and brings him back to Asterix and Obelix. The dolphin then leads them to the trireme of Lucullus.
  • Injun Country: Asterix, Obelix and Getafix land in a stange mix of every imaginable type of land inhabited by Native Americans instead of what should be just the Northeast woodlands. The local Natives meanwhile are portrayed with Tipis and Totem Poles.
  • Just Desserts: The vile Lucullus ends up devoured by Caesar's pet panther while he was trying to escape at the end when the magic potion-empowered Gauls get freed and wreck the camp.
  • Karma Houdini: It is true that Julius Caesar never gets punished as much as his underlings are. But this story takes that to the extreme. After the Romans burn the village and capture all but four of the Gauls (which is pretty much as close as they come to winning in any Asterix story), all of their soldiers are beaten up and Lucullus is even devoured by Caesar's pet panther. Caesar though manages to hide in a barrel and escape the scene unharmed. It is notable too that while other stories will portray Caesar as a man of honor, he has no redeeming qualities here. And still, he is free to just casually exit the movie with his pet panther.
  • Killed Offscreen: In the climax, Lucullus tries to escape when the Gauls break out of their cage and wreak havoc on the Roman camp as they're empowered by magic potion again, and he gets dragged inside a tent by Caesar's panther and devoured by it (and pretty quickly so without even having time to scream or get torn to pieces by the animal). That's a rare instance of someone actually getting killed in the Asterix franchise.
  • Leitmotif: There's a bombastic theme whenever someone drinks the magic potion and gains Super-Strength.
  • Magical Native American: The medicine man pretends to be one, but it's all smoke and mirrors, and he gets exposed by Asterix, Obelix, Getafix and The Chief's Daughter.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: Caesar uses a barrel to escape the Roman camp after the Gauls regain their magic potion and wreak havoc at the end.
  • Ms. Fanservice: As well as having a gorgeous face and the body of a swimsuit model, the chieftain's daughter dresses in a short skirt and a cleavage-exposing top.
  • Mushroom Samba: The evil medicine man's weed causes Asterix to have a nightmare in which the village is being besieged with the Romans starting to use incendiary projectiles on it (and it happens for real at the same time on the other side of the world). Obelix meanwhile wakes up and sees Asterix as a scary green buffalo, which causes him to run away in terror and crash into everything in his way.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Chief's Daughter is named "Ha-Tschi" here while her name is not specified in the comic book (although the novelization invokedcalled her Minihooha instead).
  • Near-Villain Victory: Caesar almost succeeds in conquering all of Gaul... until Asterix, Obelix and Getafix come back from America and give magic potion to the captive villagers. Cue the Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • No Name Given: The Natives are all unnamed, except the The Chief's Daughter in German dub who's credited as Ha-Tschi.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In Rome, a "legless" beggar turns out to have legs and flees when the centurion Drives Like Crazy in the city's streets.
  • Panthera Awesome: Caesar has a black panther as pet, which is somewhat similar to Cleopatra's lion from Asterix and Cleopatra in design and behavior, up to being prone to Amusing Injuries.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The comic has a Random Events Plot that would not work as a standalone film, so the story is altered heavily.
    • In the album, Asterix and Obelix go out to sea to catch fish for the magic potion (which is needed to fight the Romans). However, the Romans have no role in the story, so this would only make sense to someone familiar with the series’ premise. The film has a much more reasonable inciting event (Getafix being kidnapped by Romans), and the Romans are portrayed as a consistent conflict that pose a genuine threat to the village.
    • Asterix and Obelix have a proactive role rather than being Pinball Protagonists like in the original story.
    • The characters’ stay in North America has an actual plot, with a medicine man as the antagonist, and The Chief's Daughter is portrayed as an actual character instead of a plot device to encourage Obelix to leave.
    • There is no Halfway Plot Switch where Asterix and Obelix are picked up by Vikings.
  • Reused Character Design: The Roman centurion has the same character design as the one from Asterix in Britain, which was already reused in Asterix and the Big Fight. It is clearly not the same character between films still.
  • Running Gag:
    • Once again, a Roman legion tries to conquer the Gaulish village at the beginning. And once again, it ends up on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle by the magic potion-empowered villagers.
    • Redbeard and his pirates get sunk once again by Asterix and Obelix, only this time it's just because they happened to be on the way during the chase to rescue Getafix from Lucullus' clutches, with Asterix and Obelix simply crashing into them and not stopping by to say hello and kick everyone's ass.
  • Rushmore Refacement: Non-vandalizing version, which also qualifies as Shout-Out, National Stereotypes and Anachronism Stew. Upon exploring America, Asterix and Obelix walk past a Mount Rushmore expy, which has the faces of four natives carved in the mountain, including those of the chief and the medicine man they meet later.
  • The Savage Indians: Natives are portrayed like this at first, attacking Asterix and tying him up to a totem with Getafix with both of them to be executed in a ritual. Then Obelix saves both of them and The Chief's Daughter, defeats the resident brute in a Combat by Champion and the trio befriends the tribe, which are shown to be otherwise normal villagers, save for the medicine man and his lackey.
  • The Siege: With no more source of Super-Strength, the Gaulish villagers are forced to build heavy wood fortifications as they're now besieged by the Romans, who now know the Gauls can't resist for long.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The Indian medicine man tricks Asterix, Obelix, and Getafix into smoking a tainted peace pipe to knock them out. Getafix even anachronistically says "He's slipped us a Mickey."
  • Stiff Upper Lip: The slaves rowing the Romans' ship are Britons and treat it like a boat race.
  • Stock Footage:
    • The shot of the crumbling Roman siege tower is reused from Asterix and the Big Fight.
    • The shot of the brawl resulting from Fulliautomatix and Unhygienix arguing over his fish is reused from Asterix in Britain. It even starts for the same reason in both movies.
  • Super-Strength: What the Gauls' magic potion grants, as always.
  • Tainted Tobacco: The Indian medicine man tricks Asterix, Obelix, and Getafix into smoking a tainted peace pipe to knock them out. Getafix even anachronistically says "He's slipped us a Mickey."
  • Tipis and Totem Poles: Asterix, Obelix, Getafix and Dogmatix land in the Northern woodlands. So why the local Natives live in tipis (generally only used by Great Plains tribes) and build totem poles (an artistic medium specific to tribes of the Pacific Northwest) is anyone's guess.
  • Wheel o' Feet: Happens with the rows of Lucullus' trireme as he motivates the slaves onboard to row as fast as they can to outdistance Asterix and Obelix.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: The Romans realize getting rid of Getafix is the best way to finally bring the village to its knees, yet when they manage to capture him, they insist on tossing him off the edge of the world. Partly justified since they believe Getafix to be immortal, but they never even try to kill him on the spot to see if this is true.
  • You Are Too Late: Asterix, Obelix and Getafix make it back to Gaul, only to discover the Romans have succesfully ravaged their village and taken all the other Gauls captive once the magic potion reserves dried out, except for Cacofonix. Fortunately, the three are not too late to save their fellow Gauls, since they are locked in a big mobile cage in a nearby Roman Camp waiting to be deported to Rome.