ASTERIX AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
France, 2008, 116 minutes, Colour.
Gerard Depardieu, Clovis Cornillac, Benoit Poelvoorde, Vanessa Hessler, Alain Delon.
Directed by Frederic Forestier, Thomas Langman.
In the 1960s there were several animation films, bringing to light the comic strips of the Asterix stories, life in Gaul at the time of Julius Caesar, the resistance and the freedoms. Asterix was the leader, Obelix the humorously oafish friend. Over the decades there were many more stories, even the Gauls going to Britain, to Egypt, encounters with Cleopatra and, with this film, to the Olympic Games.
One of the humorous aspects was the giving of names to characters and resemblance to different functions, captured in the English subtitles, for example, the carrier pigeon being called Telegraphix, and the romantic hero being called Lovesicx.
Many of the fans were not enthusiastic about the live-action films but for those who enjoy ancient stories, resembling the modern stories, with a larger than life characters, there is quite some amusement – although the appearance of contemporary sports stars at the end of the film as well as digressions about tennis, the invention of soccer and basketball, are stuck in their time.
1. The popularity of the Asterix stories, comic strips, comic books? The film versions – animated? Live-action?
2. The entertainment value of this story, of the Gauls, of Asterix and Obelix, in Gaul, in Greece, the Olympic Games? The details of the games? Musical score?
3. The French names for the various characters, the humour in the translation into English?
4. Lovesicx, his communicating with Irene, the carrier pigeon, Telegraphicx, his decision to travel to Greece and seek her hand? His adventures along the way, arrival, disguised as a servant, seeing Brutus, letting it be known that he wanted Irene’s hand? Her father, his reaction, wanting her to marry Brutus? Her suggestion that whoever won at the Olympic Games should get her hand?
5. The introduction, Gaul, the presence of the Romans, the role of Julius Caesar? The independence? With Caesar calling them Gallo-Romans? The qualities – shown with chasing the Roman jogging, their speed?
6. The decision to go to Greece, to take the druid priest, to help with the games? And Dogmaticx going as well?
7. Brutus, foolish, with his troops, their surface support, their thinking him idiotic? His return from the war, his awkwardness on the horse, falling off, the eagle? His dislike of his father, his father’s dislike of him? His courting Irene, the proposal about the games, his accepting? His advisers, his training, getting the best Roman athletes, getting potions, cheating? His participation in the games, his ways of cheating, winning, his father’s spurning him? His plot against his father? The decision resting on the chariot race? His performance, stealing the Druid’s potion, the extra power, flying around the course, getting rid of others? His final crossing the line, the accusations of cheating, the irony of the tongue turning blue? His being sent to the galleys, supervised by his father?
8. Julius Caesar, the performance and presence of Alain Delon, his status in French cinema – the joking references to his films? Arrogant, Ave moi! Attitudes towards the Greeks, the marriage of his son, presiding over the games – and the joke whether they would last 2000 years? His presence at the games, his comments, his reactions to Brutus? The attempted coup? Granting permissions at the end? On the galley with his son?
9. The Greeks, the King ingratiating himself with Caesar, his daughter’s marriage?
10. Lovesicx, participation in the games, along with Asterix and Obelix? His not doing so well, helmet on back to front, in the chariot race, ultimately winning, the various participants, the different countries, Michael Schumacher and the Germans, the pit stops, Asterix helping Lovesicx, his travelling on three wheeled chariot the happy ending? The parodying of Ben Hur?
11. The humour of these stories of ancient Gauls, and the parallels with contemporary living and experience?