The Twelve Tasks of Asterix

The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (Les Douze travaux d'Astérix) is a 1976 Belgian/French animated feature film based on the Asterix comic book series. René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, the creators of the series, wrote the story and directed the film themselves; with co-direction by Pierre Watrin and the screenplay co-written by Pierre Tchernia, a friend of Goscinny and Uderzo. The film was directed, produced and animated at Goscinny and Uderzo's own animation studio, Studios Idéfix and is the only Asterix animated film that has used the Xerography Process.. At the time of its release, the film received polarized reviews since its tone is more cartoony and frequently breaks the fourth wall. Nowadays its reception is more favorable, with it often being cited as one of the best Astérix films, even reaching the status of a cult classic.[1][2]

The Twelve Tasks of Asterix
Les Douze travaux d'Astérix
Original theatrical release poster
Directed byRené Goscinny
Albert Uderzo
Pierre Watrin
Henri Gruel
Produced byGeorges Dargaud
René Goscinny
Albert Uderzo
Screenplay byPierre Tchernia
René Goscinny
Albert Uderzo
Based onAsterix
by René Goscinny
Albert Uderzo
Music byGérard Calvi
Edited byRené Chaussy
Isabel García de Herreros
Minouche Gauzins
Michèle Neny
Dargaud Films
Les Productions René Goscinny
Studios Idefix
Halas and Batchelor Cartoon Films
Distributed byCinema International Corporation (1976, U.K.)
Release date
  • 20 October 1976 (1976-10-20) (France)
Running time
82 min.

It is the only Asterix film to date (animated or live-action) to be based on an original screenplay rather than on material from any of the comic book stories.[1][2] Later, however, it was adapted into a comic book as well by Albert Uderzo's brother, Marcel Uderzo,[3] as an illustrated text story book and a series of twelve books for young readers.


Following constant defeats by the rebel village of Gaul, the Roman Senate begins to suggest that the Gauls might be gods, due to their apparent invincibility. Julius Caesar, openly disdainful of the suggestion, decides to test the village and meets with their chieftain, Vitalstatistix. Caesar declares that the Gauls must undertake a challenge, inspired by the Twelve Labours of Hercules - the village's best warriors shall perform a set of twelve new tasks, which only gods could carry out successfully. Completion of all the tasks will see Caesar hand over the Roman Empire to them, whereas failing just one task will result in the Gauls surrendering to Rome. Agreeing to the terms, the village assigns Asterix and Obelix to perform the tasks, with Caesar assigning Caius Tiddlus, a Roman man renowned for his honesty, to act as their guide to the tasks and serve as the challenges' referee.

In their first set of challenges, Asterix defeats Asbestos, champion of the Ancient Olympic Games, by beating him in a race, and Cilindric the German in a fight, by outsmarting his opponent. Obelix defeats Verses the Persian, by managing to throw a javelin further than him. In their next challenge, the pair find themselves crossing a lake that is home to beautiful Sirens, who reside in the centre on the "Isle of Pleasure". Although the Gauls nearly succumb to the women, Obelix comes to his senses when he learns that there are no wild boars for him to hunt and eat, allowing the pair to accomplish the challenge. After surviving the hypnotic gaze of Iris the Egyptian in the fifth task, with Asterix causing him to hypnotise himself, Obelix attempts the sixth task of finishing meals prepared by the Belgian chef Mannekenpix, exhausting his kitchen of food.

Following their seventh task of enduring the "Cave of the Beast", the pair attempt the eighth task of getting a permit document from a multi-storey bureaucratic building. After finding it impossible because of the clinically unhelpful people who direct them elsewhere, Asterix beats them at their own game by asking for an imaginary permit. The staff fall victims to their own behaviour, and cause the Prefect to unwittingly hand over what the Gauls came for. The pair continue to complete further challenges. They cross a ravine filled with crocodiles by beating them up, rather than using an invisible tightrope. They answer a riddle by the Old Man of the Mountain, conducted in the form of a washing detergent advertisement. They then endure a night on a plain haunted by ghosts, by complaining about the noise and convincing the ghosts to shut up.

Asterix and Obelix eventually find themselves in Rome, alongside their fellow villagers, for their final task. Brought to the Circus Maximus, the Gauls fight against gladiators, whom they beat, and defeat various animals sent against them by turning the arena into a modern-day circus. Having succeeded in every task, Caesar agrees that they are gods, giving the Gauls control of the Roman Empire, while retiring to live a quiet life with Cleopatra. As a reward for his service, Caius Tiddlus retires to the Isle of Pleasure. As the village celebrates their success, Asterix answers Obelix's question of them really conquering Rome by pointing out that everything that happened to them was a mere cartoon, in which everything is possible. Obelix takes advantage of this and teleports himself and his wild boar meat to the Isle of Pleasure, to enjoy himself.

English Voice Cast

Comic book and story book adaptations

In 1976 Albert Uderzo's brother Marcel Uderzo created a comic book adaptation of the film. This rare album has been translated in various languages, but is unavailable in the regular series.[3] The English translation, only published as part of the once off comic book annual Asterix Annual 1980,[5] was based on the dialogue of the English version of the film and was titled Asterix Conquers Rome. There is also an illustrated book of the film containing the story in text. The story book is more regularly published and more widely translated than the very rare comic book.[6] In addition there are also twelve rare illustrated text story books for young readers, one for each of the twelve tasks.

Historical joke

While Caesar is addressing the other senators, Brutus is playing with a knife. This eventually irritates Caesar, leading him to declare, "Brutus, stop playing about with that knife! You'll end up hurting somebody!" This is a nod to Brutus' Assassination of Julius Caesar.[7]


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