movies and the climax of their adventures

on the occasion of its releaseAsterix and Obelix: The Middle KingdomTake a look at the four previous films that brought the adventures of the two Galus to the big screen in live action.

True headliners of French popular culture, the characters Asterix and Obelix, created by Goscinny (in the script) and Uderzo (in the picture), live on more than 60 years after their birth in 1959., to release passions. Witnesses: the waves of comments evoked by each new performance in albums or on the big screen.

trailer middle empire, By Guillaume Canet.

Despite big budgets and castings to make the Croisette pale, all film adaptations of Gallic heroes are bound to draw more winks than laughs. All? Nope. Because one of them knew how to find the right tone led by the irrepressible director… Middle EmpireBy Guillaume Canet, this Wednesday 1er Come back with February, three flops and a top.

Getting out of the boxes: the prehistoric terrain

But first, a little history. Asterix and Obelix are not even ten years old, and there is already talk of giving them animated life. Pierre Tchernia committed to it in 1967, realizing it for the small screen Two Romans in Gaula black-and-white version combining animation and live action, in which actor Roger Carell, who played the radio version a year earlier, lent his voice to the mustachioed little hero – will retain the role until the film. Asterix: the domain of the gods (2014, by Alexandre Astier and Louis Clichy).

Two Romans in Gaul (1967), by Pierre Tchernia.

There will be dozens of cartoons. But, inevitably, between the worldwide success of the albums (380 million sold in 2020) and the all-around popularity of the Goscinny-Uderzo universe, the cinema does not attract much attention to the two Galus.

In the 1960s, Claude Lelouch thus envisioned adaptations of Gallic village characters with non-professional actors chosen for their physical resemblance. The project is on hold during production. Louis de Funes stars as the mustache-less Asterix, joined by Lino Ventura as Obelix. But “Tired, tired, tired”in the words of a Roman leader Golden hook (1960), nothing like that will happen.

“Adjust!”they said…

trailer Asterix vs. Caesar, By Claude Zidi.

Claude Zidi would have to wait until 1999 to understand Asterix and Obelix against Caesar. Christian Clavier plays the little moustache—in this case, the teacher; Gerard Depardieu plays his assistant there. Also on the bill are actresses and comedians who are favorites for popular moviegoers: Michel Galabru, Claude Pieplu, Arielle Dombasle and even Roberto Benigni in Tulius Detritus. (Nifraz). And a very literal adaptation that fails to leave the boxes of the Goscinny-Uderzo universe and produces only a pale copy.

Unnecessary special effects, sets cheap… Still, Zidi’s film was a huge success with 9 million tickets sold, France’s biggest hit of 1999 – especially Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, by George Lucas. In total, the adaptation will have 24 million admissions worldwide.

Two cinematographic flops

in the Olympic games (Frédéric Forestier and Thomas Langmann, 2008) and For your majesty (Laurent Tirard, 2012) reject the ingredients of Zidi’s film for a very bad result for the first, and not really terrible for the second.

Clovis Kornilak and Gerard Depardieu Asterix at the Olympic Games. ©2007 Pathé Renn Production / La Petite Reine / Tri Pictures / Constantin Films / Sorolla Films / Nov

Despite a budget of 78 million euros for the Gaulish version of “Olympia” (one of the biggest budgets in French cinema), Clovis Cornilac and Gerard Depardieu struggle to convince Forestier and Langmann’s camera. Neither Zinedine Zidane’s presence nor Alain Delon’s portrayal of Cesar (not bad for all that) can balance the script and weak gags – it’s as if the universe of Goskinni and Uderzo has been stripped of its essence. smart Around 16.5 million viewers worldwide could measure the mediocrity of this adaptation.

As for Opus according to your majesty Shot in 3D (which was all the rage at the time), neither Edouard Baer as Asterix nor Fabrice Luchini (as Fabrice Luchini – sorry, Caesar) manage to make us laugh even a little. The suits are straight from the store, and Catherine Deneuve is seen inside the queen he would deserve better than clothes that make him squirm between pity and disgust. The public was less fooled: Laurent Tirard’s film received only 8 million admissions worldwide.

Ingredients for Alain Chabat’s magic potion

We have to see Mission Cleopatra understanding what doesn’t work in episodes in the Olympic games and For your majesty. The 2002 adaptation directed by Alain Chabat, initiated by producer Claude Berry, seems like a “good translation”: instead of trying to stick to the comic book at all costs, it embraces the former Les Nuls Gallic universe. mix with a delicate balance between basic elements, “in-spirit” options and assumed creations.

Thus we see Asterix and Obelix being reprimanded by Claude Francois (Alexandria, Alexandra) or even deploying Depardieu/Obelix in a nasal tirade after the Sphinx’s nose falls off, echoing his role in the cinematic adaptation. Cyrano de Bergerac (1990, Jean-Paul Rappeneau).

Chabat knows the worldAsterix, he captures it, unafraid to step aside, to bring his own reading of Les Nuls-crafted conceit and parody—after all, it’s not that far from Goscinny. Another important point missing from the other three adaptations: Chabat manages to entertain young and old. visual humor, jokes referred to… The audience, whatever their age, finds their account in it – this is probably the main element of the success of Goscinny-Uderzo’s albums.

Alain Chabat’s critically acclaimed adaptation was watched by 14 million viewers. The good news is that it’s the same Chabat who is overseeing the upcoming animated series featuring Gauls on Netflix.

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