With the last Asterix Cartoon movie released in 1994, and the live-action movies a big hit over the past couple of years, it seemed that we'd seen the last of the Asterix Animated films. M6, a French television network, had wanted to create an Asterix TV series, but Uderzo refused. He did however agree to a new Asterix cartoon film, but was hesitant about who would produce it. When he saw A.Film's "Help Help! I'm a Fish" he decided that these were the people who could do it.
Since A.Film was a Danish company, it made sense that the movie would be based on Asterix and the Normans.
Co-Director Stefan Fjeldmark described the aims of the film:
"We had high ambitions. Never before had so much money been made available for an animated Asterix adaptation and all of us were thrilled about the project. All the basic animation work was done traditionally.Drawing the characters, designing the extremely precise storyboard, creating backgrounds, the animation, developing the image - we put great care into each of these stages. We wanted to be sure to respect Uderzo's particular style. As for the special effects - snow, smoke, dust, the sea - we used a whole range of state-of-the-art techniques. Here too, we had to integrate all this into the Asterix style.Take the sea, for example: we had to recreate that mix of precise realism, of uncluttered lines which are a trademark of the albums, while managing to caricature it a little bit. It was a fine line that demanded talent as well as technical skill from our animators. We wanted to bring Uderzo's drawings to life"
In the book Asterix and the Normans a group of fearless Viking Warriors travels to Asterix's village in a quest to discover the meaning of fear, as they had heard that fear gives you wings. Unfortunately, it just so happened that the Gaulish Village fear only one thing, that the sky may fall on their heads, and the Vikings are out of luck. That is until they encounter Vitalstatistix's cowardly young nephew, Justforkix who Asterix and Obelix are teaching how to be a man.
This is where the film deviates from the book, specifically developing " the Nordic aspects of the storyline". The Vikings abduct Justforkix and bring him back to their homeland. Asterix and Obelix must travel to the icy Norway to rescue him, with almost half the movie taking place here. For the movie, the Normans have been changed to the Vikings which is more dramatic and iconic.
- The Movie begins fairly faithfully to the original book with Justforkix arriving in the village and introducing the newest tunes and moves from Lutetia (called Parisium in the movie). However, the film features a fish fight in the village which was not in the original book (and was a convention that hadn't yet been introduced to the Asterix stories).
- We are introduced to the Vikings who are always going on raids only to find that their intended victims have deserted their villages (an orginal movie scene). In the book, it is the Norman Chief Timandahaf who suggests fear lends you wing, but in the movie it is the new character of Cyptograf (a Soothsayer type) who uses the metaphor fear gives you wings which is taken literally by Timandahalf and the other villagers.
- In the book it is the Norman Nescaf who captures the "champion of fear" Justforkix. In the film it is the new character . His father Cyptograf encourages him to capture Justforkix so he can then marry Timandahalf's daughter Abba (yet another new character).
- In the book the Normans hold Justforkix on the Amorican beach. The movie leaves the book entirely behind when the Vikings take Justforkix back to Norway. Their are various original adventures - Asterix and Obelix dress up as Vikings Asteraf and Obelaf (an echoe of Asterix and the Goths when they take the Goths costume), Justforkix falls in love with Abba.
- In the book there is a humourous threeway fight between the Romans, Gauls and Normans on the beach. In the movie, the Gauls attack the Roman camp with the over eager Legionary Oleaginus making a small cameo
- A big subplot from the book is almost entirely removed. In Asterix and the Normans Justforkix and Cacofonix strike up a friendship and Cacofonix is convinced to leave the village and go to Lutetia thinking he'll better appreciated there. Meanwhile, Asterix (in order to rescue Justforkix) says he will teach Timandahaf the meaning of fear and is kept "hostage" as Obelix goes to get Cacofonix (whose voice would make anyone fearful). Since Cacofonix has left, Obelix must go after him. The Normans/Vikings are however taught the meaning of fear by Cacofonix at the end of the film (though they are at the village for Justforkix's and Abba's wedding!)