I arrived at my first Asterix film with a little apprehension. Somehow, every comic strip and celluloid second of the iconic Gaul’s adventures was unknown to me – how on earth was I going to navigate an entire film? However, I had back-up. Our party of three also included a Frenchman with a decades-deep knowledge of Asterix, and a 7-year-old with nothing more than an insatiable appetite for all forms of animation.
The 7-year-old never stopped chuckling and belly-laughing as Asterix and Obelix embarked on their quest across Gaul, with their village druid Getafix, in search of a young heir who can be entrusted with the formula for the magic potion that safeguards their village against the Romans.
Meanwhile, the Frenchman worried silently that we wouldn’t be able to get our narrative bearings without the reference points he’d painstakingly built up over his lifetime. How were we to know that Obelix carries Getafix on his back in exactly the same manner as he ports his beloved menhir stones? Would we be missing out if we didn’t realise that the ironmonger and the fishmonger were carrying on, just as they had across more than five decades of comic strips?
Happily, it turns out that Asterix and the Secret of the Magic Potion is perfectly comprehensible and enjoyable with or without an encyclopaedic knowledge of the oeuvre of its creators Albert Uderzo and Rene Goscinny. Like many child-friendly films these days, the plot and dialogue work on many levels, enabling every generation of cinemagoers to enjoy the entertainment as the film steadily builds to its crescendo of absurdity.
Plus, added bonus for our small group, Asterix has recruited an excitable new member to its fan base, and I’m pretty sure the 7-year-old enjoyed it too.
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