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Western Animation / Asterix Versus Caesar

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Asterix Versus Caesar (Astérix et la surprise de César in French, literally "Asterix and Caesar's surprise") is a 1985 French animated film based on the Asterix comics and directed by Paul and Gaëtan Brizzi. Vladimir Cosma composed the soundtrack and Belgian singer Plastic Bertrand performed the theme song.

When Panacea and Tragicomix are taken captive by the Romans and shipped to a distant outpost in the Sahara, Asterix and Obelix embark on a journey to rescue the couple. Their adventure sees them sign up as legionaries, and eventually track the two to Rome, where they are to be thrown to the lions during a grand show to honor Caesar’s many successful conquests.

The film was followed by Asterix in Britain, made by the same studio, with the same main voice actors in French.

Asterix Versus Caesar provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Amalgamation: The movie combines the plots of Asterix the Legionary (Asterix and Obelix signing up for the Roman army to rescue Tragicomix in North Africa, with the addition of Panacea having to be rescued as well) and Asterix the Gladiator (Asterix and Obelix traveling to Rome and becoming gladiators, again to rescue someone, in this case Tragicomix and Panacea), as well as taking some minor plot elements from Asterix in Corsica (the decurion who kidnaps Tragicomix and Panacea is clearly based on Courtingdisastus from that story, as is the rest of the local legionaries being Lazy Bums).
  • Adaptation Expansion: Aside from combining the plots of two albums, the movie adds several new scenes, the most prominent one involving Asterix getting captured and nearly drowning in a Roman prison.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The Romans didn't really do conscription (as they thought people not wanting to fight made poor soldiers), something acknowledged in Asterix the Legionary and explained as a sign of Caesar getting desperate in his civil war with Metellus Scipio. With said subplot axed, though, the movie gives no explanation for why the Roman Army would accept captured Gauls.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Downplayed. The slave trader who sells Panacea and Tragicomix to Caius Fatuous is clearly Ekonomikrisis, the Phoenician merchant who was an ally of Asterix and Obelix (though still somewhat shady) in Asterix the Gladiator. However, in the comic he was still a slave trader, and originally planned on selling Asterix and Obelix. While his role in the story is more villainous here, he is no worse in-universe.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Redbeard and his pirate crew are surprisingly absent, even though they appeared in both comics the movie is based off (Gladiator was their debut, even), and Asterix and Obelix travel by ship during the events of the movie.
    • For Asterix the Legionary, the Egyptian and Greek legionary trainees are removed and replaced by a Spaniard instead.
    • The movie also omits the subplot about the Roman Civil War between Caesar and Metellus Scipio.
  • Animation Bump: While The Twelve Tasks of Asterix had already seen a major improvement in animation quality, it still contained a few moments of Limited Animation and other obvious short-cuts. Here, we see the series really hit its stride in that regard, with the animation being much more consistent, detailed, and ambitious, to the point where the only one of the subsequent traditionally animated Asterix films to surpass it in quality was Asterix and the Vikings, which benefited from a higher budget and two decades' worth of technical advances.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Spear safety, at least. Pilum practice places the target on a direct line between the legionnaires and an open door. Obelix accidentally hits someone when his spear goes through the target. Mind you, the door was probably thought to be out of range for anybody without Super-Strength.
  • Artistic License – History: Caesar gets outright called an "emperor". That didn't happen until Augustus, who turned The Roman Republic into The Roman Empire.
  • Ascended Extra: In the two comics the movie is based on, Panacea and Tragicomix only appeared in Asterix the Legionary. And even in that story, Panacea was a supporting character who only appeared at the start and end of the story, and Tragicomix, even though his rescue was what drove the plot, only appeared in person during the last act. In this movie, both are present throughout the entire plot.
  • Attempted Rape: While Panacea is forced to work in the mess tent in the legion camp in the Sahara, a guest of the commander assaults her. She fights him off, then Tragicomix (who had seen it through the tent wall) fights past his guards, steals a chariot, and the two flee the camp.
  • Beautiful Singing Voice: When she's prisoner at the Colosseum in Rome, Panacea beautifully sings a lament every night, as explained by a nearby Roman vagrant to Asterix.
  • Bee Afraid: The recruit in charge of capturing Panacea and Tragicomix is attacked by a bee, which came for the flower he attached to his helmet as disguise.
  • Been There, Shaped History: In the climax, while in the arena, Obelix gets distracted and accidentally runs into a support pillar and causes a sizable portion of the Colosseum to collapse, which is why it is in ruins today. Quite an impressive feat when you remember that the Colosseum wouldn't even be built for another century.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as all the Gauls are about to be attacked by the lions, with Asterix having lost his potion flask and Obelix too depressed about Dogmatix being missing to fight, Dogmatix runs into the arena - bringing the gourd full of magic potion with him.
  • Body Horror: Played for laughs; in his introduction scene, Getafix is experimenting with a potion that makes plants grow rapidly. He accidentally spills some on his foot, and it grows to a massive size. He doesn't seem to notice, however.
  • Boot Camp Episode: The first half of the movie focuses on Asterix and Obelix joining the Roman army.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Asterix after he loses his Magic Potion in Rome.
  • Chariot Race: Just like in the comic, Asterix and Obelix participate in one during the games in the circus.
  • Comically Missing the Point: During spear training at the Roman military academy, Obelix throws a spear straight through the sandbag, which flies into the kitchen and accidentally hits the cook, who thinks the cadets are impatiently waiting for the food to be done.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Panacea and Tragicomix wander aimlessly in the desert and are found by slave traders. Later on, Asterix and Obelix go into the desert to find them and run into the same slave traders.
  • Darker and Edgier: Beyond stuff like the Attempted Rape of Panacea, the darkest depiction of the streets of Rome in the series and Asterix almost drowning while in prison, the tone of the movie in general is much more serious that what's typical for an Asterix adventure. Other things include the Gauls standard thrashing the camp scene being treated as a borderline Mook Horror Show, and Caesarnote  being heavily implied to have actually fed Caius to the lions at the end.
  • Darkest Hour:
    • During the storm scene in Rome; Asterix is locked up in a prison that is flooding with water, causing him to nearly drown. Dogmatix is flushed through the sewers, and Obelix desperately searches for both of them. It's easily the darkest moment in all Asterix history.
    • Near the end, Asterix, Obelix, Tragicomix and Panacea are all in the circus about to be fed to the lions. Asterix lost his gourd and thus can't provide himself or Tragicomix with magic potion, and Obelix is too depressed due to Dogmatix gone missing to put up a fight.
  • Deadly Dust Storm: Tragicomix and Panacea are caught in a sandstorm after escaping the Roman camp in the Sahara. It wrecks their chariot, forcing them to continue on foot.
  • Demoted to Extra: Cacofonix the bard. In Asterix the Gladiator, he was a main character and his rescue is what drove the plot. Here, he only appears as an extra in the scenes set in the Gaulish village.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Panacea has this effect on Obelix, causing him to blunder into things and knock them over. In the circus, it leads to Obelix running head first into a wall, destroying a large part of the building.
  • Drowning Pit: The prison in Rome where Asterix is thrown in after his capture unintentionally becomes one when, during a severe rainstorm, a lightning destroys part of the roof, allowing water to freely enter the cell (which is below ground level). Obelix saves him in the nick of time.
  • Fed to the Beast: Asterix, Obelix, Tragicomix and Panacea all face this fate in the circus.
  • Foreign Queasine: The Roman army serves a nauseating concoction of oatmeal, cheese rinds and fat all cooked together to its soldiers, who get a double portion on Sundays, under the principle that angry soldiers fight better. Only the British recruit likes the stuff. Asterix and Obelix are so disgusted they threaten the cook to start making proper food.
  • Gale-Force Sound: When Asterix and Obelix get into an argument in the Roman bath house, their yelling causes the curtain in the doorway between them to flap in and out.
  • Gladiator Games: Asterix and Obelix sign up for Caius’ gladiator school to get access to the circus.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: When Asterix and Obelix track down the slave trader who sold Tragicomix and Panacea to Caius Fatuous and demand to know where the two are now, the man tries to make a profit by demanding Asterix and Obelix pay him for the information. Obelix proceeds to hammer him into the ground. When he's buried up to his neck, he finally tells the Gauls what they want to know.
  • Large-Ham Announcer: The Colosseum's announcer speaks very loudly into a large megaphone, giving him a sore throat as a result.
  • Made a Slave: Panacea and Tragicomix. First, they are taken as slaves to a Roman camp in the Sahara, and after escaping this camp, they are taken prisoner by slave traders and sold as slaves in Rome.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Downplayed. When one of Caius's mooks tries to knock Obelix out with a big club a second time, but Obelix being Obelix, he says he feels kind of tired.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: Like in the comics, the Romans disguise themselves as bushes when attacking Tragicomix and Panacea.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • In the Sahara, the same slave traders who took Panacea and Tragicomix prisoner also try to capture Asterix and Obelix, with predictable results.
    • Later, in Rome, Caius's men try to ambush and capture Obelix. Again, it ends about as well as one can expect.
  • Oh, Crap!: The centurion when he sees his underling captured two Gauls. He knows his camp is now doomed to be leveled by the other Gauls, either in an attempt to get Panacea and Tragicomix back or just for revenge.
  • Offhand Backhand: Obelix manages to unknowingly knock out all the gladiators in the arena by gesturing while talking to Asterix.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Obelix gets off his food after getting smitten with Panacea, causing Asterix to get concerned.
    Asterix: Druid, I'm worried about Obelix. There's a roast boar in front of him and he isn't eating.
    Getafix: Hmm. Did he have anything else first?
    Asterix: Only two boars.
    Getafix: For Obelix that's nothing, I'd better take a look.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: Tragicomix and Panacea are initially taken to a Roman camp in the Sahara as forced conscripts. They escape in a stolen chariot, after the latter was nearly sexually assaulted by a Roman officer. Their next scene sees them staggering away from the now-wrecked chariot, overcome by thirst and heat exhaustion with vultures circling above them. On the verge of death,they are taken captive again, this time by slave traders who take them to Rome, where they are bought by Caius Fatuous to be thrown for the lions during the upcoming games in the circus.
    • After being completely broken by the unruly batch of new recruits (including Asterix and Obelix, who thoroughly humiliate him all the way to the boat to Africa), Centurion Dubius Status quits the military and goes back to Rome, reconverting into a gladiator trainer... Only for the very same pair of Gauls to enroll as gladiators themselves and be put under his care, making him instantly break down in tears the moment he sees them.
  • Public Bathhouse Scene: Asterix and Obelix visit a Roman bathhouse while in Rome. It's there that Asterix loses his gourd of magic potion and is subsequently taken captive.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The Roman recruit who had Tragicomix and Panacea taken prisoner to impress his centurion is immediately sent to an outpost in the Sahara, along with his prisoners, because the Centurion knows what consequences this will have once the Gauls find out.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Vladimir Cosma reused the music he composed for the Olympic torch relay scene in the 1982 film Ace of Aces for the scene where Caesar gets gifts from all regions that were conquered by Rome.
  • Running Gag: Obelix asking Asterix if a certain person is a friend or not before beating them up (he got confused about whom he's allowed to beat and who not due to the two of them having to pose as legionaries for a while).
  • Shout-Out: The chariot race is one to Ben-Hur, specifically the 1959 film.
  • Slave Market: After escaping the Roman camp in the Sahara, Panacea and Tragicomix are taken captive again by slave traders and end up on a slave market in Rome, where they are bought by Caius Fatuous for the upcomming games in the circus. Later, Asterix and Obelix also visit the slave market and beat the slave trader into telling them where Panacea and Tragicomix are.
  • The Song Remains the Same: The theme song, "Astérix est là", remains in French in the English and Dutch dubs of the movie, as well as in Polish redub. Not the case in Germany, which has a Translated Cover Version instead.
  • Theme Tune: "Astérix est là!" ("Asterix Is Here!") by Plastic Bertrand.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: The trainer at Caius's gladiator school when he sees Asterix and Obelix (the former even without magic potion) effortlessly beat up all his recruits.
  • Too Dumb to Live: One of Caius's henchmen knocks his partner out to see if his large club works after he failed to knock Obelix out. Then he knocks himself out after failing a second time.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Tragicomix, who goes topless the entire movie.
  • Uncertain Doom: Caius Fatuous is last seen barely hanging above a hungry lion, his ultimate fate is left unknown, but given Caesar's threat, that Caius would be fed to his own lions if the games go wrong, it doesn't look good for him. Such fate would also be a Karmic Death, as he planned to do the same to prisoners.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: At the start of the arena scene:
    Gladiators: Ave Caesar, those who are about to die, salute you!
    Asterix and Obelix: Hiya, Julie! How ya doing?
  • Win Your Freedom: Caesar grants the Gauls their freedom after they impress him with their fight against the lions. Or possibly a desire to get them to leave before Obelix wrecks the place any further.
  • You Are Too Late: By the time Asterix and Obelix reach the Roman camp where Panacea and Tragicomix should be, the two have already escaped on their own and fled into the desert.
  • You Dirty Rat!: When chasing the lost gourd of Magic Potion through the sewers of Rome, Dogmatix is confronted by a pair of rats who are almost as big as he is.