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Western Animation / Asterix in Britain

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Asterix in Britain (Astérix chez les Bretons in French) is the French-Danish 1986 animated film adaptation of the eponymous Asterix comic book, directed by Pino Van Lamsweerde. It was made by the same studio as the previous one, Asterix Versus Caesar, a lot of the French voice actors from the latter returned, and the soundtrack was composed by Vladimir Cosma. The British band Cook da Books performed the theme song.

Julius Caesar has conquered Brittania with his Roman legions, and a small village of Britons does its best to resist. They send Anticlimax across the Channel into Gaul, to seek help from another village that resists Roman rule, that of Asterix, Anticlimax's first cousin once removed. Asterix and Obelix volunteer to accompany him back to his village with a barrel full of the Super-Strength-granting magic potion made by Getafix the druid.

For the tropes common to both the comic book and the film, see the comic book's page. See also the live-action film adaptation of the comic book, Asterix & Obelix: God Save Britannia.

Tropes specific to the film include:

  • Adaptation Expansion: In the original comic book, Obelix (for once) makes Dogmatix stay at the village. Here, the little dog goes to Britannia with our heroes, and even has his own subplot where he searches for the stolen barrel of potion.
  • Adapted Out:
  • Allohistorical Allusion: The scene of the Romans landing in Brittania resembles the June 6th 1944 Normandy Landings (D-Day) of World War II. If not a Shout-Out to The Longest Day.
    • Julius Caesar says the day of his invasion of Britannia will be "the longest day".
    • The invasion of Britannia by the Roman fleet looks a lot like D-Day (the 1944 Normandy landings) with Roman troops Storming the Beaches, complete with sounds of machine guns, planes, bombs in the previous chaos and landing crafts with bow opening and ramp. The Romans legionaries escalating the cliff also evokes the battle of the Pointe du Hoc, which was famously depicted in The Longest Day.
    • When Anticlimax knocks on Dipsomaniax's door, he taps out the "Beethoven's Fifth" rhythm that forms the Morse code for the letter V, used to represent "victory" during World War II. Similarly, after winning the battle, Anticlimax makes the "Victory" sign with his fingers, in reference to Winston Churchill.
  • Anachronism Stew: In keeping with the comics' shtick.
    • The Roman fleet's friendly fire scene has sounds of machine guns, planes and bombs somehow. Similarly, the landing crafts have a bow opening like the crafts the Allies used on D-Day. And the Roman centurion who has to coordinate the fleet with hand flags produces morse code telegraph sounds.
    • The Big Ben tower's bell sound in Londinium, over 1900 years too early.
    • The entirety of Londiunium, period. It largely resembles modern London and features various historical landmarks that were built over the centuries, including Houses of Parliament, Tower of London, Tower Bridge... except they're all made of wood (and Tower is literally just a very, very tall tower). Its suburbs even have streets with rows and rows of completely identical houses, not unlike your contemporary London's terrace houses.
    • Britons playing rugby, about eighteen centuries before it was invented. And cricket, over 1600 years before the first documented mention of such game.
    • This gets lampshaded by Getafix in the last scene of the movie, when he claims that tea will never catch on among "these English"... only to correct himself and claim that what he meant to say was "Britons".
  • Angry Guard Dog: A large, foaming bulldog guard the thief's house and threatens Dogmatix. That is, until Dogmatix drinks a droplet of magic potion and sends it packing. The bulldog later proves to be a Butt Biter for three legionaries stalking the Gauls.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Towards the end, the Pirate Captain takes this attitude toward his ship, and sinks it himself to keep Obelix from sinking it.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: The usual argument over the quality of the fishmonger's fish starts the usual brawl between the blacksmith and the fishmonger, with half the men of the village running to join in just because it's an excuse to fight. Obelix not joining in because of his suffering Roman withdrawal disrupts it, but then there's the following conversation:
    Unhygienix: Now, where were we?
    Fulliautomatix: Um, your fish stink?
    Unhygienix: Oh, yes. MY FISH ARE FRESH! [everyone resumes fighting]
  • British Stuffiness: Mercilessly parodied. Anticlimax is basically made of this trope, remaining completely composed regardless of the situation.
    • Completely subverted during the rugby match where every Briton in the crowd, including Anticlimax, goes nuts as only Football Hooligans can.
    • Special mention, though, goes to an unnamed Briton who doesn't even flinch when Gauls break into his house by bashing in the front door and comforts his wife by calmly saying that those "gentlemen" surely have a good explanation for their behaviour. Later, when he hears Obelix performing a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on a thief, he just makes an off-handed comment that their neighbours are very noisy today and he really would like him to quiet down so he can read in peace.
    • When Anticlimax and Mykingdomforanos are reunited they briefly shake hands before saying they need to save the mushy reunion for later.
  • Canon Foreigner: General Motus did not appear in the comic book, he is unique to the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The herbs provided to Gauls by Phoenician merchants as a "reward" for saving them from pirates. They turn out to be tea leaves and play a crucial part in Asterix's Batman Gambit near the end.
  • Composite Character: There's a multitude of Roman authority figures in the comic book outside of Caesar. They have more or less all been Adapted Out and blended into General Motus.
  • Didn't Think This Through: After confiscating all barrels of wine in Londinium, the Romans attempt to find the one filled with magic potion by having their legionnaires take a sip from each and every one of them. Naturally, they all quickly end up totally hammered — and suffer from severe hangover the next morning.
  • Dope Slap: The decurion, after ordering his men to dress as civilians, slaps the one that forgot to take off his legionary helmet.
  • Facepalm:
    • Caesar puts his hand over his face with dismay when he sees the chaos caused by the hand flags centurion who tried to brush a seagull off (with his flags still in his hands) and inadvertently ordered the fleet's catapults to fire doing so.
    • General Motus does this too, when he hears the ruckus caused by incoming Stratocumulus — who is once again skidding uncontrollably in the corridor — out of frustration both due to damage caused and another bad news he is apparently about to receive (not this time, though).
  • Fluffy Dry Cat: Happens shortly to Dogmatix after being drenched by the rain and drying himself by the fire at an inn.
  • Hand Signals: The Roman invasion fleet is being coordinated by a centurion using hand flags. Just then a seagull lands on his helmet. His frantic efforts to brush it off inadvertently signal the fleet's catapults to open fire on their own ships.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: After a Roman garrison gets completely sloshed trying to identify the one barrel of magic potion among countless wine barrels, the Large Ham general gives them a good chewing out, complete with echo.
    Legionary: Feed me to the lions, but please, make him stop shouting...
  • Magic Feather: Gauls fail to deliver the barrel of magical potion to a besieged Briton village, but Asterix provides it with a brew made from herbs he obtained from Phoenician merchant (tea leaves, actually) and makes the Britons believe that it's the promised magical potion — knowing that such belief will inspire them into delivering a Curb-Stomp Battle to the Romans while demoralizing the latter ones.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Downplayed. Defeating Asterix and Obelix in open battle is still beyond the Romans' reach, but they succeed in breaking the barrel of magical potion which the Gauls try to deliver to besieged Briton village, making their entire quest moot. Just when it seems that our heroes will be forced to defend the village by themselves, Asterix comes up with an idea to make a brew of the herbs from Phoenician merchant and trick the Britons into believing it is the promised magical Super-Strength potion.
  • Nonverbal Miscommunication: The Roman invasion fleet is being coordinated by a centurion using hand flags. Just then a seagull lands on his helmet. His frantic efforts to brush it off inadvertently signal the catapults to open fire... on their own ships.
    Caesar: I came, I saw, I don't believe my eyes! [cue facepalm]
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Vladimir Cosma reused themes from some of his previous soundtracks.
    • The bombastic Roman landing music is a fanfare version of "Tarte à la crême" from 1976's The Wing or the Thigh.
    • Cosma also reused the music he composed for the Olympic torch relay scene in the 1982 film Ace of Aces for the scene where Caesar's army conquers Britain during the Britons' weekend break.
    • Similarly, the opening Cook da Books song re-uses the music from its Plastic Bertrand counterpart "Astérix est là!" in the previous film, just remixed from a synth-pop style to a slower, acoustic guitar-led one (and with English lyrics instead of French).
  • Rule of Three: The pirates get sunk three times. The first time by the Romans, the second time by the Gauls, and the third time they do it to themselves upon seeing Obelix passing by to save themselves the accompanying beating.
  • Slippery Skid: The Running Gag of messengers sent to General Motus always arriving at his headquarters after the floors have been waxed, resulting in slips, slides and crashes into various marble statues (explaining why so many Greco-Roman era statues in museums nowadays are broken).
  • The Song Remains the Same: The opening song (with English lyrics) is the same in both the French and English dub.
  • Theme Tune: "The Look Out is Out" by Cook Da Books. The melody reuses that of the Plastic Bertrand song "Astérix est là!" from the previous film, Asterix Versus Caesar.
  • Truer to the Text: The film sticks pretty close to the comic book, minus the Adaptation Expansion above and the absence of some Roman officers. It's especially noticeable when the other two 1980s Asterix films it is sandwiched between, Asterix Versus Caesar and Asterix and the Big Fight, were both Adaptation Amalgamation.
  • Visual Pun: As noted above, someone decided to take the name "Tower of London" literally and in this movie, instead of a castle, it literally is a very tall tower.