Film review: Asterix – The Secret of the Magic Potion
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- Published on Tuesday, 20 August 2019 11:17
- Last Updated on 20 August 2019
- Monica Costa
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Based on the beloved books by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo and directed by Alexandre Astier and Louis Clichy, Asterix – The Secret of the Magic Potion is a great new animation that will make kids fall in love with the most famous Gaulish hero.
On the 60th anniversary of the much-adored comic book series, Asterix and Obelix embark on a quest across Gaul looking for a young druid worthy of learning the secret of the magic potion – a formula which has long helped to keep the Gaulish village safe against Julius Cesar and his invading army. However, once Asterix and Obelix begin their quest, all hell breaks loose at home as the Romans start attacking the village and an evil wizard named Demonix does everything he can to steal the potion’s secret recipe.
Ken Kramer (Asterix), C.Ernst Harth (Obelix), John Innes (Getafix), Fleur Delahunty (Pectin), Michael Shepherd (Demonix), Saffron Henderson (Impedimenta), Don Brown (Vitalstatistix), Ron Halder (Geriatrix),
Jason Simpson (Unhygienix), Scott McNeil (Fulliautomatix), Andrew Cownden (Cacofinix), Brian Drummond (Cakemix), Mark Oliver (Julius Caesar)
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Kids’ Club Rating: 9/10
London Mums’ rating: 6/10
INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDRE ASTIER (WRITER – DIRECTOR)
What attracted you to the film?
Being able to propose an original story. After the first film Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods, which was an adaptation, I wanted to propose an original story. I thought they would refuse but they actually loved the idea. We needed to pitch an idea that was following the principals of Asterix even though the theme of the movie had never been touched on in the books. We needed to reassure them that we wouldn’t misrepresent Asterix’s essence.
How did you manage to out your own style while still respecting Asterix’s codes?
I don’t have a technique to respect things – I already respected the universe of Asterix. I decided to keep what I love about Asterix since childhood and stayed true to myself.
A second opus is always bigger than the first one. How did you manage that in the movie?
First of all, our heroes are on the move. In The Mansions of the Gods, everything happened in the village. Now they must travel across Gaul to find the perfect candidate, so we have the notion of a journey. Regarding the technique, we also raised our game as this animation is of much better quality.
Is it only a fun film or do you tackle more serious themes, like the transmission of knowledge or retirement?
For me, there is no comedy without drama. A lot of questions are raised – for instance: Why doesn’t Getafix save the whole country if he has the magic potion? Why does he keep the potion for himself while the population is oppressed? You could compare with the nuclear bomb. Who has it? Who hasn’t? What would happened if it was used?
So many questions were raised but it was hard to answer all those questions in so little time.
You created a new villain, Demonix? How is he a good villain?
I really do think when you have a great villain the movie is great. I have always preferred the bad guys. Demonix is a real danger, he is extremely clever and improvises a lot. He is also a bit crazy.
Do you prefer to write for the Gallic and the Romans?
(Laugh) I love to write thinking about actors, thinking about who is going to play the character but I don’t have a preference. I never get bored of writing for the good guys and the bad guys.
Do you have a favourite line or joke in the movie?
I’m going to choose a line from Demonix. When he arrives out of nowhere after being banned for years and says: “If a had such power – speaking about the magic potion – I wouldn’t have kept it for 40 idiots with moustaches. I would have stopped the all the wars in the world”. It is not a joke but I want the public to think ‘yes he is right? Why only save 40 guys’. I’ll be very happy if the public wonder that.
How was the work process for the film?
Just like the first one, actors recorded their voices before the animation work even started. It’s very important for me – no images! We go in to the studio and record the voices until perfect and until actors master their characters. We then start the animation process based on the actors’ performances. There is a huge liberty with that process I think and it’s a wonderful way to tell Asterix’s story.
Animation movies often take four to five years of a life. How do you stay motivated?
Ideas are usually very fresh and exciting at the beginning. The fabrication of an animated movie is very precise but also very long, step by step. You need to have very clear ideas and be a bit of a maniac.
How did you divide the work with Louis Clichy?
Basically, I write and direct the actors and he does the animation and production. However, we tend to get involved in each other’s work so we fight. But we love to fight. (Laugh)
INTERVIEW WITH LOUIS CLICHY (WRITER – DIRECTOR)
What made you want to work on that new movie?
Despite the difficulties of the first movie Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods, the experience was exciting and I was motivated to go back for a second one. We just needed something new and Alexandre proposed creating our own story.
Were you in contact with Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny’s relatives to get their feedback?
Yes. Creating an original story was a real challenge. We wondered if we would get the authorisation and if the story would be appreciated and not misrepresent Asterix. We presented the project to Albert Uderzo and Anne Goscinny and they loved it! During the whole process they checked that we were respecting the work.
How did you create an original story with Alexandre?
Alexandre discussed with me his idea which I found interesting, he worked on a first draft and then we started the process of creating the movie. We exchanged storyboards and designs with a lot of laughs and also fights. I would draw numerous sketches to explain my point of view and he would go back to write, etc.
What are the most important elements to create an original adventure?
It’s essential to bring back the principal characters. This time the real hero is not Asterix but Getafix and his nemesis Demonix. Apart from that we have the ingredient of a good book: magic potion, romans, fights, Caesar… even pirates.
What makes Demonix a good villain?
He is a classic villain. He lives with a childhood trauma, rancour and frustration. He is not loved like lots of villains, but he lacks affection. He used to have a good relationship with Panoramix and ended up hating him when he succeeded and invented the magic potion. I also loved working on his design adding animal skins and a deer’s skull. His skin is cadaveric but still has some nobility. He is a very interesting villain.
What was the biggest challenge about creating that new adventure?
Having a good original story and also allowing yourself to make a film without Albert Uderzo or Les Editions Albert René, although they are obviously present in each character. Apart from that, I had very technical challenges; I wanted to bring a more cartoonish aspect to the movie while the computer animation brought a lot of realism. It is necessary to find a certain homogeneity in the design. For example, for Asterix’s hair, the idea is not to see hair that looks like real hair but to have hair that is in the spirit of comics. These are all little details that will make a beautiful image and show that it is clearly an Asterix movie and not a semi- realistic film or the reminiscence of a video game. I am quite happy with the result in terms of images.
How do you stay motivated during the long production of the movie?
To be honest, we don’t give 100% of our energy for the four or five years of the process, especially in the preparation. I spent a year in 2015-2016 working and taking breaks. It’s really very hard to work full time when developing a story because it always requires perspective. We have to know how to move on, then come back with a fresh eye and then we move forward efficiently. Each stage of production brings its share of challenges and new tasks, which removes the repetitive side of something and makes it possible to keep going until the end of the film.
Since making the movie, do you see Asterix differently?
My opinion hasn’t changed on Asterix. We are aware that a new step has been taken as we started from scratch, but I think we stayed faithful to the essence of Asterix. He remains an incredibly interesting character that I appreciate. It’s always the challenge with these heroes. Over time, Asterix became a little like Mickey Mouse, an icon, and that generates the fear of misrepresenting him. In the comic books Asterix started as
quite mischievous and a little sarcastic but then he became very nice, smooth and polite. I wanted him to get more excited, to have real arguments with Obelix, about real problems, not just arguments to make people laugh. In the film, he gets out of his comfort zone.
- The Asterix comic series has been translated into 111 language
- The series has sold 25.5m copies in English language and 337m copies worldwide.
- Due to its incredible popularity it has spawned 10 animated films and four live action films to date.
- Le Parc Asterix, the comic themed park in France, sees a whopping 2.1m visitors a year
ASTERIX – THE SECRET OF THE MAGIC POTION is released in cinemas and on Sky Cinema on 30 August 2019.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums