The four peplums that inspired Asterix

The albums of the little Gaul are full of references and winks that are difficult to capture when you are not initiated. You will no longer (re)read your Asterix as before, by Toutatis!

Ben-Hur, by William Wyler

Goscinny and Uderzo wanted to have a great chariot race. The Scrapbook Asterix Gladiator (1964) provides them with the opportunity. To free the bard Assurancetourix locked up in the Maxime circus while waiting to be delivered to the lions, Asterix and Obelix are hired as gladiators. However, in terms of chariot racing, that of the film Ben Hur wins – and we still haven’t done better since.

Directed by William Wyler and released in 1959, it is the film of all superlatives: a duration of 3 hours and a half, 15,000 extras, 490 speaking roles, 11 Oscars…and 78 horsepower used in the race. It is by drawing inspiration from this anthology sequence that the authors of Asterix design their scene. With, of course, an added dose of humor.

Cleopatra, the film by Joseph Mankiewicz

When they come out of the projection of Cleopatra, by Joseph Mankiewicz (1963), Goscinny and Uderzo have decided: they are going to send their Gallic heroes to Egypt to experience a parody of what they have just seen on the big screen. Everything about this blockbuster seemed ridiculous to them: the so-called historical re-enactments, the fake sets, the debauchery ofspecial effects and extras…

Published in 1965, the album Asterix and Cleopatra announces the color from the cover page. “The greatest adventure that has ever been drawn: 14 liters of India ink, 30 brushes, 62 oily lead pencils, 1 hard lead pencil, 27 erasers, 38 kilos of paper, 16 typewriter ribbons , 2 typewriters, 67 liters of beer were necessary for its realization! »

Spartacus, by Kubrick

When he imagines, for Obelix’s Galley (1996), a scenario in which a group of slaves revolts and flees by stealing Caesar’s galley, Uderzo spontaneously thinks of the very real character of Spartacus. In 73 BC. AD, this gladiator Thracian contributes to the largest slave uprising against the Roman Republic.

The story was brought to the screen in 1960 in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, starring Kirk Douglas as Spartacus. Uderzo saw the film in his day, and the American actor has remained one of his favorites. Normal that he gives his features to his character of Spartakis who, in the album, leads the escape of the slaves.

Satyricon by Federico Fellini

In France, director Federico Fellini has been a star since his Palme d’or in Cannes in 1960 for The good lifebut his fame increased further in 1969 with his tenth feature film, Satyriconwhich recounts the depraved tribulations of two students in the Ancient Rome. The scene of the feast at Trimalcion, a Dantesque orgy of twenty minutes, is found at the beginning of the album Asterix among the Helvetii (1970), transposed in the palace of the governor of Condate (Rennes), the filthy Garovirus. Everything is there: the smoky basement, the slumped guests gorging themselves, the painted faces, the dancers…

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The four peplums that inspired Asterix