Asterix and the Cauldron (1969)

Astérix et le chaudron

Presenting a pretentious thematic undercurrent…

A&O are forced to try their hand at profiteering. Market economics, amateur boxing, bank heists and experimental theatre are all referenced. One unforgettable sequence involves the duo joining a Theatre of Cruelty acting troupe with its all-too-believable precious actors, shock tactics, and pretentions to significance.

Notable Nomenclature…

  • Whosemoralsarelastix: crooked chief.
  • Laurensolivius, Alecguinus: ‘classical’ actors.
  • Confidencetrix: tipster at chariot races.

Cleverness and contemporaneity…

  • Obelix’s decidedly flower-powered protocol for greeting a Gaulish chief (p1).
  • At the feast for Whosemoralarelastix Obelix eats boars from a production line (p4).
  • Vitalstatistix recollects Trojan heroics regardign shields when he says “Come back with your cauldron or in your cauldron” (p7).
  • There is a darts sideshow at the Condatum market (p15).
  • A&O’s lack of business acumen ensures that they devalue the entire boar market (p18).
  • A Gladiator impressario invites members of the public to risk severe injury – a once-common fairground test of manhood (20).
  • We meet the African lookout’s fatalistic first cousin (p21).
  • Asterix is described, accurately, as a “yellow-whiskered midget of uncertain age” (p22).
  • The theatrical troupe mirrors the post-war “New Drama” “Theatre of Cruelty” and “Angry Young Men” movements (pp25-28).
  • Asterix and Obelix try to rob a branch of “Barclus Bank” (pp32-38).
  • The tax collector speaks entirely in Inland Revenue jargon, including pro-formas and a final demand (pp39-40).
  • The tax collector attempts to set a levy on the money that is being stolen (p40).
  • For once, just for once, the pirates are happy (p44).
  • Cacofonix afforded aerial view of banquet (p44).

That Army recruitment drive…

“Join up…It’s a man’s life.” (p11.)

Obelix has a tender side…

  • Not so: a thespian ego-trip results in that rare-occasion where Obelix does accept that he’s a ‘fatso’ (p26).
  • Is so: expresses friendship for Asterix (as does Asterix him) more overtly than usual as we witness the series most sustained ‘A&O; cry on each other’s shoulders’ scenes (p8 etc).

Classic Pegleg…

Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant = Where they make a wilderness and call it peace (Tacitus 56-120 AD, Agricola 42). (p11).

Redbeard’s Retort…

“This is no time for facetious comments. All hands on deck.”

Good or What?

Good, if strange.

An uncharacteristically sombre book that might be subtitled “Asterix unwittingly destroys people’s businesses and livelihoods”. The satires on theatrics and tax collection are both spot-on.