Asterix in Britain
|Asterix in Britain
(Astérix chez les Bretons)
Date(s) of publication
|Preceded by||Asterix and the Big Fight|
|Followed by||Asterix and the Normans|
Asterix in Britain (French: Astérix chez les Bretons) is the eighth in the Asterix comic book series. It was published in serial form in Pilote magazine, issues 307-334, in 1965, and in album form in 1966. It tells the story of Asterix and Obelix's journey to Roman-occupied Britain.
Julius Caesar has invaded Britain and succeeded in his conquest, mainly because the British soldiers under Cassivelaunos stop fighting every day to drink hot water (with a drop of milk) and they refuse to fight over the weekend. Caesar, using his military genius, decides only to fight when they stop to drink hot water and at weekends. As with Gaul, a single village remains independent, defying the Romans. One member of the village, Anticlimax, is dispatched to Gaul to enlist the help of Getafix the druid in providing magic potion for the British rebels. It is decided that Asterix (Anticlimax's second cousin twice removed) and Obelix should accompany him back to his village to help transport a barrel of the potion. However, while beating up a Roman galley in the British channel, Obelix mentions the mission, which is reported to the Roman high command in Britain, led by General Motus.
In Britain, the barrel of potion is confiscated from a pub cellar, along with all the barreled "warm beer" (bitter) and wine throughout Londinium, by the Romans, who set about tasting the barrels to find the right one. Soon the whole unit assigned to the testing is hopelessly drunk. Asterix and Obelix steal all the barrels labelled with Dipsomaniax but Obelix gets drunk and starts a fight with some passing Roman soldiers. During the fracas, a thief steals the cart with the barrels. In the meantime, Anticlimax and Asterix leave Obelix at Dipsomaniax's pub to sleep off his hangover. While Anticlimax and Asterix go in search of the thief, the Romans capture the sleeping Obelix and Dipsomaniax, and raze the pub. After a stay in the Tower of Londinium, Obelix wakes up and breaks them out of the jail, and they reunite. The three heroes hunt down the potion, which is being used as a pick-me-up for a Rugby team, which ends up mauling their opponents in the match. Eventually the potion is lost in the Thames after an attack from a Roman catapult, though it gives some fish, and a fisherman who is pulled in, superstrength.
Finally reaching the independent village, Asterix eases the Britons' disappointment by claiming that he carries herbs to remake the potion, as working for Getafix has given him that knowledge. These are later revealed to be tea. With a psychological boost, the village prevails against the Romans. Asterix and Obelix return home to the inevitable feast. The Britons like the tea so much, they proclaim it shall be their national drink.
- The blue and white uniforms of the Camulodunum team are identical to the modern home kit of Colchester United FC.
- The chief of Anticlimax's tribe is a caricature of Harold Wilson. The Beatles also make a cameo appearance as bards.
- Although many books in the series deal with other European peoples, Britain is one of only two where the book starts with a note from the authors that they are not looking to insult their famous rivals (The English) but to merely make fun of the common stereotypes. The other book given similar treatment is Corsica.
- In Anthea Bell's and Derek Hockridge's English translation, the linguistic difference between the Gauls and the Britons is shown by some of the Britons (especially Anticlimax) talking exclusively in stereotypical "upper class" English, including expression such as "This is a jolly rum thing, eh, what?" and "I say, rather, old fruit". In particular, Anticlimax's frequent use of "what?" makes Obelix ask "What do you keep saying what for?"
- The book was adapted into an animated film of the same name, which was released in 1986. The adaptation is similar to the book (the main difference being that Dogmatix accompanies his master to Britain).
- A second, live-action film was released in 2012. Asterix and Obelix: God Save Britannia follows the plot of the book, but makes several changes: Chief Mykingdomforanos is replaced by the Queen of England and Anticlimax's tribe are represented as Scots in tartan kilts. The story is combined with elements of Asterix and the Normans - not least in that Vitalstatistix's nephew Justforkix accompanies Asterix and Obelix to Britain.
In other languages
- Analysis of Asterix in Britain
- Colchester United official website
- The Beatles as bards
- Asterix in Britain on IMDB
- Asterix and Obelix: God Save Britannia