"Astérix et Cléopâtre" or "Asterix and Cleopatra" or "Asterix und Kleopatra" is a co-production between France and Belgium in the French language from 1968, so this one is already over half a century old. Of course, this is an animated film or with those back then, you can also still say cartoon movie. And not a very long one at that as it only runs for under 75 minutes. Maybe you are surprised that I included the German title, but why not? I think that right now, even after all these years, these films are hardly anywhere as famous as they are here in Germany and they also were back then, which you can see from the Golden Screen it received back in the day, an award in Germany for films that were seen by really, really many people at the theater. And as many people perceive this as a movie that is rather for children (which is absolutely not true, also good fun for grown-ups),this achievement is even more respectable. Many Bud Spencer films managed to win this Golden Screen Award, I think some Winnetou as well, but at least compared to the latter I believe that this is not an inferior watch at all. It is the second film from the series and was released just one year after the first (Astérix le Gaulois obviously) and one crucial change is that Goscinny and Uderzo, who wrote the comics of course, were also in charge of the direction here in contrast to the first film. The only other film Uderzo ever directed was Les 12 travaux d'Astérix almost a decade later and Goscinny also directed this one. The man had two more directorial efforts that were Lucky Luke films. Besides, the one I just mentioned is probably my very favorite from the entirety of Asterix movies and I will review that one as well in a few weeks I think. Bud Spencer and James Bond franchises are seen and reviewed for the most part, especially the latter, so let's move on to that little resilient village. There are a few more writers credited here from France and Belgium and I cannot say a lot about those honestly as I simply don't know them, but it seems Eddie Lateste is still alive now in 2021 in his early 90s and that means he has reached an even higher age than Uderzo, who died not too long ago. Goscinny left us a long time ago already sadly.
Another one who died in his 90s last year would be Roger Carel, the voice of Asterix. I cannot say too much about him either because I watched the German dub obviously, but I think he was pretty famous in France, certainly more famous than Jacques Morel, the voice of Obelix, who died already over a decade ago. May all of them rest in peace, also Goscinny and Uderzo, and I am grateful for what they left us. It's also still up on my agenda to read all the Asterix comic books once again and that means something coming from somebody like myself who is not big on readin at all. Anyway, as for the German dub here, it is kinda interesting that this won a German screen and I think it has a lot to with the excellent dub really just as excellent as the dubs were for these aforementioned Spencer films that also won the German Screen on several occasions. The translations are also really good there. By the way, we get an interesting little explanation very early on that is especially memorable to linguists like myself with how the Egyptians were actually speaking back then and how it is depicted here and how they ask us to forgive that mouth movements and words may not always be 100% in harmony with each other. Comes very easy to forgive this with such a high level of dialogue writing otherwise. In terms of the words, we have one running gag about Cleopatra's nose that I liked quite a bit, also how often they used it. A lot early on, but before it gets too much, they leave it out in the second half and then I think once more near the very end. If you have seen and/or read some Asterix, you will know some of the other jokes maybe. That would be of course Obelix's desire for the magic potion and he even manages to get a drop this time. But the druid rejecting him is the standard procedure of course. Then there are the pirates who always get punched and have their ship destroyed by the Gauls and here they even have an extra task, namely to destroy some barrels of magic potion themselves. And the bard is also ready to perform a farewell song. Problem is nobody else is ready for that.
To make the local aspect count, we find out how the sphinx lost her nose and who is the one responsible for that. Also interesting how the painters/scuulptors reacted right after it happened. I think the question/riddle on how the Egyptians managed to build these spectacular buildings and pyramids was not solved here, but they easily could have done it by saying it was thanks to the magic potion. Oh well. As for the local architect here in charge of building the palace, I honestly kept wondering how he did so well if we take a look at his other buildings early on. But then again, he did not have the manpower and our two heroes at his disposal for these other works. We have once again more antagonists than one. Caesar is in ist of course and once again he gets defeated by the Gauls thanks to their magic potion, even if it is just a proxy war this time. But Cleopatra is also not entirely friendly. Look at her words on what is going to happen to our heroes if they fail, even if she sides with them for the most part. The key antagonist here is another architect, a jealous one, even if in the end he is also with everybody at the table enjoying the spectacular meal. Despite his cruel ideas. The first is still relatively harmless and also pretty modern with how he tries to convince the workers to go on strike because payment does not equal effort. But things get more serious in his attempts to stop our heroes. Just take the example with his buddy who leaves them behind in the pyramid and without Obelix's little dog, they may have died in there indeed. So there are threats, also a few serious moments, but they still kept this film harmless for the most part. Just look at how Caesar and Cleopatra talk to each other. Or about each other. How he calls her people early on, which is enough to outrage her. Or how she calls him near the end when she finds about the attack. Kinda funny.
These moments were probably not mean funny, but they feel like it looking at how the movie has aged. Nonetheless, it's all about the comedy otherwise. Some inclusions are as brief as they are creative like the Santa painting on the pyramid's wall. Others feel more significant. The moment when Obelix splits the cake into three parts is probably among my favorite comedic moments in animation history. You cannot depict greed and hunger in a more charming and entertaining manner really. Obelix is the winner of course when it comes to comedy. The undisputed MVP. And maybe not too different to Spencer, even if the latter does not need any magic potion to be the stronges in the world. Take a look at the two occasions where he knocks down walls and the soldiers standing there to guard are knocked down at the same time. And all this after they laughed right before that about Obelix' warning. The first example would be when our heroes leave the prison Cleopatra put them in. And the second example would be when they go free the druid. Also from prison. So funny these moments. There are many other examples and really not a lot that did not impress me. Maybe one of the weaker parts would be the sequence with Cleopatra and her lion early on and a little later also the (almost) dream sequence with Obelix when he is not happy about the food. The lion appears in there as well. Not my favorite character. Music in general was not this film's biggest strength. I mean the moments when people were singing. The score was absolutely fine. A better singing part was when the two bad guys prepare the poisoned cake in the second half. Unreal what kind of stuff they throw in there. I guess Cleopatra's taster got lucky to be alive still. And the druid of course carries around an antidote against everything just in case. What a champ. They really needed it here.
As I am getting to an end, let me say that I enjoyed this film a lot. Overall, it's definitely closer to 4 out of 5 than 2 out of 5. Still, this really high rating is reserved for the 12 travaux movie I mentioned early on, my favorite from the franchise. Still, I am glad I got to catch this one here tonight and looking forward to the other films in the coming weeks. No clue though why they showed this one first because it's not the first. But maybe the reason is that many think it's better than the first and also includes more references on foreign culture and travelling. Who knows. But the very first I will also watch and review soon. Also minor characters and short scenes in here are fun. Take Caesar's stealthed spy, take the hungry crocodiles (and lion) at the end, take the mouse, take the lovebirds (many animals in here),take Obelix's reactions when Asterix does not want his dog to join them and how acts as if he was the one barking, take Obelix's surprise that the druid immediately know it's him when everybody gets some magic potion and of course take Cleopatra's moments in the limelight when she talks about dying like a queen. Truly like an actress. And what a nose indeed! An easy thumbs-up for this movie that has aged really well. There are a handful other moments and inclusions I could talk about, like the snow in France early on, which also makes this film really beautiful to watch at times and nobody can say it is dated in terms of how it looks. Great attention to detail there as well, also with the scenes in Egypt of course. With costumes and sets. I am glad this is still on from time to time. Show it to your kids for sure. Or if you don't have any, keep watching it here and there for yourself. There's no way you will regret it unless animation really isn't your cop of tea at all. I personally think this film's charm is undeniable.
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Popular animated hero Asterix and his faithful sidekick Obelix travel to ancient Egypt to help Cleopatra build a new summer home. Cleopatra and Julius Caesar have made a bet, with Caesar wagering the project cannot be completed in a few weeks time. With the help of a magic potion, Asterix comes to the rescue of the Queen of the Nile as Caesar and an angry architect plot against them.
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