TV Cream

Films: A is for...

Asterix Films, The

Hooray! Asterix on film; what could be better? Quite a lot, as it turns out, because what all Asterix films miss is the crucial element that made the (English) books so great – translators Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge’s extra-curricular Brits-only gags. Asterix the Gaul is the first of the films, not bad, not great, but fun in a serialised-over-summer-holiday-mornings-in-1979 way. That ‘dum, da-dumty daaaa da’ theme tune refrain does get under your skin after a bit, though. Asterix and Cleopatra is the second Gaulish flick, which we’ve never seen, but the book was a pretty good one, satirising the architectural profession. Can’t see the gags about the Egyptians talking in hieroglyphs making it to the screen, though. For Asterix in Britain there’s still no Bell and Hockridge for this ’80s vintage tale of the origins of rugby and tea which is therefore 50{30e2395aaf6397fd02d2c79d91a1fe7cbb73158454674890018aee9c53a0cb96} less funny than it could have been. Then there’s Asterix v Caesar (why not The Mansions of the Gods or Obelix and Co? They were dead classy) which we think is probably a film of Asterix and Caesar’s Gift, the one where Orthopaedix contests the chieftainship of the village, resulting in much election satire. Anyway, Terry Jones handles translation duties on this one, so it is actually a cut above. Not to be confused with the more recent Asterix Takes on Caesar starring Gerard Depardieu, which is rubbish. Lastly (here, anyway) is Asterix and the Great Crossing which was largely poor even in book form apart from a Danish explorer called Haraldwilssen, and Asterix and the Big Fight which is really just another limp late ’80s bodge job of a great book – the menhir-concussed Getafix and additional druid (“How are you, my dear sir!”) concocting polka-dot potions are present and correct, but the rest is hopelessly screwed around, and whither little Prawnsinaspix?



  1. Cindylover1969

    August 30, 2009 at 9:38 am

    What about “The Twelve Tasks of Asterix” (the best of the lot and the only one of the series not based on any of the books)?

  2. TV Cream

    August 30, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Never seen that one, but didn’t that get made into a book after the fact? An ‘all wrong’ sort of book too, if memory serves.

  3. Applemask

    August 30, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Yeah, “The Twelve Tasks” was the only original Asterix film, and the only one really worth bothering with to any great extent – it was actually written AND DIRECTED by Goscinny and Uderzo themselves (along with Pierre Tchernia, aka the jowly guy who pops up occasionally in the books), hence being really pretty good. And yes, there was a book, in prose yet, but that wasn’t bad either once you get over the fact it’s not a comic, because that was also written by Goscinny b/w Bell and Hockridge, and he was no slouch at the text words write good (there was a comic version, but almost no-one owns a copy).

    Asterix Vs Caesar) is one of those later ones that squishes two books together for no reason; in this case, Gladiator and Legionary. “Big Fight” did that too, with Prolix the Soothsayer showing up to tangle the plot into a great biig mess.

    FACTS AMAZING: Anthea Bell’s son went on to be a BBC War Correspondent and independent MP in a white suit.

  4. Applemask

    October 31, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    And Lutetia is what the Romans called Paris.

  5. Simon Mclean

    October 31, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    And Derek Hockridge was also the clerk of the court on ‘Crown Court’ – but that might be fairly well known to everyone else here.

  6. TV Cream

    November 1, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Ooh, we meant Alesia, not Lutetia, the lost city of Gaulish military defeat infamy. Fixed.

    Obviously there needs to be an Asterix entry in the books section now – any favourite titles or moments spring to mind?

  7. Philip Thompson

    May 5, 2010 at 2:01 am

    I’ve seen “Asterix and Cleopatra”. It’s more of a musical than a cartoon, as Asterix, Obelix and Panoramix (I know it’s supposed to be Getafix, but you know what it was like! Bloody films having their own way with the characters’ names!) and most of the other characters broke into song now and again. The Egyptians’ language went out of the window, too. Instead of hieroglyphics, they spoke gibberish (save for the very beginning of the film which adapted the scene where Cleopatra and Edifis the architect arranged the building of the pyramid, albeit in the film they just took a generic Egyptian and made him speak gibberish [with hieroglyphics pictured at the top of the screen] before making him speak English. Luckily, they kept the whole ‘lost in translation’ gag in!)

    Also, the actual name for the 1994 “Asterix and the Great Crossing” adaptation was “Asterix in America”, the ONLY film where all the characters got their English names intact, and the ONLY film thus far with Craig “Robot Wars” Charles voicing Asterix.

    Fun facts: “Operation: Getafix” [the film name for the “Asterix and the Big Fight”] adaptation ALSO adapted “Asterix and the Soothsayer”, probably to make it longer. And in France, they filmed another, yet-to-be-dubbed Asterix film, called “Asterix and the Vikings”, the adaptation of the book “Asterix and the Normans”.

  8. Richardpd

    November 2, 2022 at 4:03 pm

    There have been a few live action Asterix films, including Asterix and Cleopatra.

  9. Droogie

    November 2, 2022 at 10:50 pm

    What first got me into Asterix as a kid were not the original books or the cartoons , but buying a strange British Asterix annual circa 1980 in my local newsagents next to The 2000AD and Whizzer & Chips annuals that would come out before Christmas. Not only did it include a full comic strip of The 12 Tasks Of Asterix, but also a guide to all the different characters and the obligatory crosswords and puzzles etc.

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