“No one can trample the Roman Empire. When they attack, the Empire Strikes Back.”
Alain Chabat’s 2002 comedy Asterix & Obelix Meet Cleopatra is set in the 1st Century BC. The last French language film I Blogged was Francois Truffaut’s The Last Metro, a suspense romance released in 1980 & set in German occupied Paris. If you’d thought these two movies have nothing in common, you’d be wrong: They both star Gerard Depardieu. But 22 years can change a man. In Metro, we have a young Depardieu analogous to Elvis touring with Bill Haley in 1955. Here, in his 3rd of 4 roles as Obelix, he’s more like Elvis in ’77: Still very talented & charming, but goofier and with a large pantry full of baguettes at home.
Similarly, the movies are very different. Truffaut’s piece is a romance masquerading as a suspense drama about Nazi’s where a secret is hidden in the cellar. It’s protagonists are a sophisticated man & a beautiful married blonde. The synopsis very much sounds like Hitchcock’s Notorious, doesn’t it? The films are similar in many ways including the suspense created as a result of the audience knowing more about impending events than the characters themselves – a technique used masterfully by Hitch. Chabat’s Asterix & Obelix Meet Cleopatra, on the other hand, is reminiscent of French version of a Monty Python movie: It’s set in ancient times; it’s a parody of history & legend; and the director is in the film. And like the various Monty Python directors who acted in their films, Alain Chabat plays the supporting role of Julius Caesar in Asterix.
Asterix & Obelix are humorous French comic book super heroes. Obelix has superhuman strength; Asterix, the leader of the team, played by Christian Clavier, acquires superhuman strength when needed with a magic potion. They’re off the Egypt to help Cleopatra (Monica Bellucci) build a palace for Caesar. Not only do we find out what happened to The Sphinx’s nose, but the movie is full of pop culture references. I’m reluctant to list any of them though because the version I screened was edited by 21 minutes & dubbed in English badly like a Saturday morning Japanese karate movie in the ‘70’s. And the screenplay of the dubbed version was changed to be more appealing to American audiences.
I’ve added the French language official trailer with English subtitles of Asterix & Obelix Meet Cleopatra below. Although finding the DVD of the French language/English subtitled version of the movie is very difficult, if you can find it, it’s a very enjoyable & funny easy watch. 2 Stars!