Asterix and the Big Fight
- 1h 21m
The druid is accidentally hit by a menhir thrown by Obelix and loses his mind and memory.The druid is accidentally hit by a menhir thrown by Obelix and loses his mind and memory.The druid is accidentally hit by a menhir thrown by Obelix and loses his mind and memory.
And neither does "The Big Fight", but that's only because it's part of the plot. It starts with the Roman soldiers who had the misfortune of meeting two Gauls in the forest well, not quite, as they try to explain to their centurion, there were not just two Gauls, they had one dog, plus two wild boars, so technically, they were five, what a relief: the honor is safe. Romans are much aware that the Gauls owe their force to the magic potion and therefore they plan to kidnap the druid Getafix. But their plot fails thanks to Obelix' providential intervention. He throws a huge menhir at them, convincing them to run away. But gravity is a bitch, and it's on poor Panoramix that the big rock concludes its doomed trajectory.
The consequence is a mix of amnesia and dementia putting Getafix in a child-like state. Obelix tries to make amends, précising that it was just a little menhir, but who is he kidding? As soon as Getafix opens his eyes, his hallucinations say enough about his medical condition. And this part leads to the first (and only) musical sequence where the well-meaning bard Cacofonix sings the film's defining song, a catchy Rock'n'Roll theme that lasts one minute, but it would have been too patience-demanding for Fulliautomatix to let him finish. The ancestor of all musical critics puts the final note with his huge hammer. Granted Cacofonix' head is used to these displays of brutality so he'll not probably end up like Getafix.
This part of the plot belongs to the "Big Fight" album, but like "Asterix vs. Caesar", another album inspires the narrative, and not the least, "The Soothsayer". A mysterious man penetrates the village under a rainy storm, the kind that reminds us the Gauls' only fear: that the sky would fall on their heads, perhaps a metaphor for bad omen. Prolix, to name him, is welcomed to the village and shares a bowl of milk and some boar with Obelix (let's not guess who eats what). In an ominous and solemn voice, he reveals that he anticipated everything that would happen. How come? He's a soothsayer. The whole assembly is impressed, only Asterix, the smartest one have reasonable doubts and Obelix has no sympathy for someone who takes pride from being capable to read in dog's guts.
The merit of the "Big Fight" is to be based on an album totally set in the Gaul's village, no escapism, but a rather static adventure where the Gaul villagers play a significant part, notably the females. Vitalstatitix' wife is even one of the most important characters. No Asterix movies dared to keep the action in the village, which says a lot about the maturity of the makers, who trusted the originality of the album and knew they could make something out of an adventure where even Asterix and Obelix would spend most of their times watching the druid. The two plots mixes rather well, confronting the village to two dilemmas: the wisest man hasn't just lost his mind but can't even remember the magic potion's recipe and the soothsayer can manipulate them, to the point of convincing them to leave the village.
And with all this sensation of doom pending over their heads, "The Big Fight" features some hilarious sequences and great pieces of animation. The soothsayer is caught by the Romans, and when realizing that his 'I'm a soothsayer' rhapsody would cause him to be arrested, he then reveals he's a scam. But the Centurion who just learned he might be upgraded doesn't want to believe it, he submits him to a 'heads or tails' test, whose outcome is one of the film's greatest gag followed by Prolix' desperate to convince the Romans that he's not a soothsayer, he's just clever. The second part is a hilarious and fast-paced scene where a poor legionary is asked to taste the potions made by Getafix, slow-motion, shrinking, transformation, nothing is spared for the poor soldier. His capability to fly at the end feels almost like a consolation, starting a friendship with a very sympathetic owl.
"The Big Fight" evolves smoothly and confidently and never leaves an opportunity for a gag, even the druid's cure is followed by a hilarious attempt of Obliex to cure him with delicacy. The film culminates with a great fight that ends up with the Gaul's triumph, but there's something strangely melancholic and moving in the final score, when the Gauls leave the Roman camp, and the centurion realizes a bit too late that the soothsayer's predictions weren't worth the coin he flipped. The film concludes with the brave soldier flying away from the camp with his friend, the owl, into the sunset we see him again in the pale moonlight under the legendary banquet that concludes every adventure. And the rock'n'roll score is back. End of the story, a good one.
I'll never forget the day I saw the film for the first time, on a moody Sunday of 1991, those were the times where each Sunday featured a cartoon adventure, no 3D, nothing, just the simple power of images and imagination. Anyway, the "Asterix" movies couldn't have had a better conclusion, yes, they were others to be made, but when it comes to cartoon, they finish with the "Big Fight".
- Feb 21, 2014