France has a great comics tradition and dozens of famous works all over the world: if we were to think of a comic in particular, however,
in all probability the first that would come to mind, the most universally famous, is Asterix & Obelix , which since 1959 it has been delighting enthusiasts of all ages. The series, conceived by the duo René Goscinny (who took care of the texts) and Albert Uderzo (historical graphic creator), has given life to dozens of official albums, animated feature films and five live action films, the last of which will arrive on February 2 in Italian cinemas, thanks to Notorious Pictures : Asterix & Obelix – Il Regno Di Mezzo .
The film is written and directed by Guillaume Canet , who also plays the protagonist Asterix, while Gilles Lellouche is an unpublished Obelix. The cast, for the rest, is very rich: Vincent Cassel is Caesar, while Marion Cotillard is Cleopatra and then we have many well-known faces not only from French cinema but also from international cinema, such as Jonathan Cohen , Julie Chen , José Garcia , as well as two special performers: pop star Angèle and champion Zlatan Ibrahimović in the unexpected role of the emperor’s bodyguard, the centurion Antivirus.
It is the year 50 BC The Empress of China has just been imprisoned following a coup d’état by Deng Tsin Qin, a traitor prince. Helped by Maidiremaìs, the Phoenician merchant, and his faithful bodyguard Gan Cho, the only daughter of the empress, Princess Fu Yi, flees to Gaul to ask for help from the two brave warriors Asterix and Obelix, endowed with superhuman strength thanks to their magic potion. The two inseparable heroes willingly agree to help the princess save her mother and free her country. Thus begins an epic journey and an amazing adventure on the way to China. But even Caesar and his powerful army, with a thirst for a new conquest, are heading towards the Middle Kingdom.
Asterix & Obelix – The Middle Kingdom is an original story (of which the official register of the transposition will be released on February 9, thanks to Panini Comics) and adds to the almost forty canonical registers – twenty-four of which made by the pairing of original authors – and to those out of series, still very popular even after decades. From the comics, over time, several feature films have been made, both in animation and in live action.
In this regard, Canet recalls:
I saw Claude Zidi’s film in 1999, which I really enjoyed, but it was Alain Chabat’s 2002 film that really impressed me. In my opinion, it was this film that developed the audience’s interest in the live action adventures of Asterix and Obelix… He managed to keep the DNA of the comic while bringing his own twist, his own vision: he invented something that it was still seen in cinemas in France. Then, I also saw the next two films and I think that (although it is always difficult to compare films with each other), the artistic direction of the episode of Asterix at the 2008 Olympics is of great quality…
In addition to having co-written (together with Julien Hervé and Philippe Mechelen) and directed Asterix & Obelix – The Middle Kingdom, Guillaume Canet plays the role of Asterix… in this regard, the filmmaker says:
Yes, but… at first I didn’t want to! Actually, when I was developing the story and the characters, I really wanted to play Caesar… So I started writing this role of a depressed, madly in love with a Cleopatra who has just conquered the Chinese market, while he has to accept being known.” alone” in his European empire. Maybe I saw some similarities in my own life… It made me laugh to see things as a sort of sequel to Rock’n’ Roll… But indeed, talking about it very soon with Gilles Lellouche (who had not yet been contacted to play Obelix) , we realized that reproducing this register with Marion risked being a bit redundant. Afterwards I thought about Vincent Cassel, who I’ve wanted to work with for a long time… And then I saw him in the role of Cesare: he’s crazy, perfectly matches the profile of the cartoon character. She has this feline side, the age to play the role, the presence and then I said to myself that with Marion it would be fantastic… Meetings followed to discuss casting and of course the characters of Asterix and Obelix. For the latter, however, it was necessary to find Depardieu’s replacement who had filled that role from the start. Obelix is him! In addition, he shot the first four films while three actors (Christian Clavier, Clovis Cornillac and Edouard Baer) played Asterix… We then started reviewing the names of different actors and at one point, from Pathé, Jérôme Seydoux told me: “ I don’t understand Guillaume: why shouldn’t it be you? It’s true: you’re young, you have a lot of energy, you’re the little nervous one who always wants to be right… You’re perfect! You’re perfect!” Everyone around the table started considering the idea and I thought: “But that’s not possible: how can you reconcile two such important roles in a film of this