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Die Daltons gegen Lucky Luke (The Daltons, Les Dalton)
France/Germany/Spain 2004

Opening 25 Aug 2005

Directed by: Philippe Haïm
Writing credits: Ramzy Bedia, Michel Hazanavicius, Eric Judor, Morris
Principal actors: Eric Judor, Ramzy Bedia, Til Schweiger, Marthe Villalonga, Javivi

French director Philippe Haïm presents a new version of the popular comic hero Lucky Luke. The illiterate Dalton brothers, Joe, William, Jack and Averell, escape from prison with the help of Ma Dalton, each digging his own tunnel, a small indication of their extreme stupidity. They leave the U.S. for Mexico where they confront the terrible El Tarlo. They steal his magic sombrero which is decorated with eyeballs and skulls, destroy the town with an old-fashioned machine gun, change their appearances with face-changing serum and attempt another bank robbery. Lucky Luke tracks them down with little effort and only one shoot-out. Capturing the Daltons is never a real challenge because Lucky Luke can move faster than his shadow. The film ends where it began, with the Daltons in jail.

German Til Schweiger hardly needs to act. In real life he comes across as a slow child at loss for words, which makes him a perfect Lucky Luke, whose only friends are his talking horse Jolly Jumper and dog Rantanplan. Schweiger’s role here is small but very effective. Still, the Daltons are the stars. Identical except for size, they change costumes from yellow and black prison garb to green shirts and red bandanas to Amish black to colorful Mexican shirts. This film compares favorably with other comics filmed with real actors such as Bat-, Spider- or Superman, although, as a comedy, it comes closest to Asterix. The sharp, clear colors are most striking, as is the music, which always seems familiar (and some of it is). In 1946 Belgian Maurice De Bévère, pen name Morris, drew the first Lucky Luke figure for Spirou magazine. In 1948 he toured the U.S. for six years to gather material about the Wild West. He successfully collaborated with René Goscinny, who wrote the text (and the text for Asterix as well), to become very popular around the world. Morris died in 2002 (Goscinny earlier) but successive artists and directors keep the legend alive, The Daltons being the newest of five versions for cinema, not to mention countless TV series. Recommended especially for Lucky Luke fans, it’s fine for children, too. (Becky Tan)

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