on June 26, 2004
I wasn't familiar with History of the World until someone recommended that I see it. I knew a little of who Mel Brooks was and had seen Young Frankenstein so I knew this might be good. Now I think it is one of the funniest movies ever, a genius spoof of world history troughout different period of time. You get to see prehistoric man invent art, and along with the first art came the first art critic. We see the real story behind Moses and the Ten Commandments. The best part to me was the part about the Roman times, when Comicus the stand up philosopher is introduced. I was laughing long and hard when Comicus gets a job as waiter at the Last Supper. Also spoofed are the Spanish Inquisition and the French Revolution.
History of the World is a great movie that features a terrific cast including Mel Brooks, Gregory Hines, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman and Sid Caesar. There are others, but together they give an entertaining perspective into some of history's most important events. There are also countless quotes from the movie that will stick with you for a long time after you hear them. This is something I recommend seeing, as even after 23 years it still seems as fresh as ever with the humor it provides.
on October 10, 2008
Though it's not considered a classic like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, there are a lot of laughs to be found in Mel Brooks' HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I, a zany,if inconsistent look at Biblical times, the Stone Age, Ancient Rome, the Spanish Inquisition, and the French Revolution as seen through Brooks' demented brain. The film is not as all encompassing as its title implies, but Mel gives his own twisted vision to these particular times in earth's history, which includes Mel himself in four different roles, including Moses and his own version of Louis XIV (It's Good to be the King). Mel gathers his usual nutty repertory company together and laughs are provided by Sid Ceasar (very funny as a caveman), Madeline Kahn and Dom DeLuise (hysterical as Cleopatra and Ceasar), Gregory Hines, Cloris Leachman, and Harvey Korman as Count De Money ("That's De Monay!!!).
As always in his films, music is key and the Spanish Inquisition is presented here as a mammoth production number that is guaranteed to either amuse or offend,depending on your mood. Hard-core Brooks fans will love it, others be warned...there's something to offend everyone here.
on June 17, 2010
So many have reveiwed the movie, I would like to comment on the improvements of the Blu-ray release.
I was quite impressed, I always saw this as a grainy movie if the 1980's. This Blu-ray release is re-mastered with pure sharp images and bright clean colors. The sound also seems to be cleaned up a bit more. This movie looks like it was shot yesterday. You would not know its age until you see what Mel looks like today in the bonus material interview.
In addition to the great re-mastering, we are now treaded to bonus a documentary & trivia. Find out who was really cast for the movie & why tha last minute changes were made.
Now HISTORY gets the same deluxe treatment that BLAZING SADDLES & YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN got on their DVD releases.
Oh, and the movie itself just gets better with age.
This is well worth the upgrade, both movie qiality & monus material.
on April 22, 1999
I don't know how else to put it. Mel Brooks is just sheer genius. Period. This film is so good, I wonder if it just might pass up Blazing Saddles, (probably not). From the Dawn of Man to the French Revolution, from the Stone Age to the Spanish Inquisition, from the Old Testement to the Roman Empire, Mel Brooks gives us a 92 minute lesson in history, the way that it never happened! As I said before, Mel Brooks is a comic genius. First, hes able to direct such an inferior movie, second, he wrote the screenplay, and third, he still had enough room for 5 whopping roles in the film!!! This film has many familiar faces like Mel Brooks, (Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie, High Anxiety), Madiline Khan (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles), Harvey Korman, (Blazing Saddles), and Dom DeLuise, (Silent Movie). Mel Brooks gang pulls it off again with hilarious slapstick, and some out-of-date humor, (like Las Vegas' Caeser's Palace). There's a lot to laugh at, and you won't be dissapointed. Very little of the humor is dry, but a majority of them hit their marks. A very etertaining movie. A must see.
When you see a title such as this with Mel Brooks the director, you pretty much know what you're getting. And Brooks does not disappoint. He uses the same philosophy as in "Silent Movie," marrying old jokes to veteran actors with hilarious results. It's no different here, whether it's Sid Caesar as a caveman who invents "rock" music, Brooks himself as Comicus, a stand-up comic and waiter at the Last Supper in ancient Rome, or Brooks regular Harvey Kormann as Count de Money ("de Monet, de Monet") in a send up of the the French Revolution, every old joke and routine is resurrected . . . and never fails to keep us laughing.
Besides Kormann and Caesar, Brooks is ably supported by Gregory Hines (his first film, and a great flair for comedy), Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Shecky Greene, and the great Spike Milligan.
And just when you think it can't get any sillier, along comes Brooks and the Spanish Inquisition in Swingtime, a beautiful parody of MGM musicals.
The only shame of this movie is that Brooks never got around to making a Part Two.
When this film first appeared more than 20 years ago, it temporarily threatened to replace world history courses in schools, colleges, and universities. Of course, that didn't happen. Probably just as well, given the fact that screenwriter, producer, and director Mel Brooks never wrote, produced, and directed Part II and its eagerly-awaited portrayals of "Jews in Space" and "Hitler on Ice." There are historians' homes in which Brooks is still not welcome. In any event, what we have in Part I is a combination of five extended sketches: The Dawn of Man, The Stone Age, The Spanish Inquisition, The Bible, and The Future. Inevitably there are some gaps.
Brooks appears in several different roles while (in fact) portraying himself: Moses, Comicus, Torquemada, and King Lou. Other members of the Brooks Ensemble Company include Madeline Kahn (Empress Nympho), Cloris Leachman (Madame de Farge), Harvey Korman (Count de Monet), Ron Carey (Swiftus), Andreas Voutsinas (B'ernaise), and Shecky Green (Marcus Vindictus). Brooks has assembled a cast of thousands. The production values are remarkably good. However, as in other Brooks films such as Blazing Saddles and High Anxiety, the quality of the humor varies from Brilliant & Inspired (e.g. King Lou professing love of "the little people" while shooting at airborn peasants who have been launched as targets: "Pull!") to Oh No (e.g. Moses reducing the number of Commandments to Ten by dropping/breaking one of three tablets while descending Mount Sinai, and, Jesus becoming confused by use of his name as an expletive). Brooks is an incurable gagster and punster. More often than not, the humor in this film works. But when it doesn't....
Several clever touches. For example, beginning the film with a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey, with Orson Welles providing the voice-over. Also, it is fun to play the equivalent of "Where's Waldo" by trying to spot familiar actors in supporting roles such as Bea Arthur (Clerk), Charlie Callas (Soothsayer), Jack Carter (Rat Vendor), Sid Caesar (Chief Caveman), John Gavin (Marche), Ronny Graham (Oedipus), Nigel Hawthorne (Official), John Hillerman (Rich Man), Hugh Hefner (Entrepreneur), Barry Levinson (Column Salesman), Spike Milligan (Monsieur Rimbaud), Howard Morris (Court Spokesman), Jan Murray (Nothing Vendor), and Henny Youngman (Chemist). As I said, a cast of thousands...if not more.
Brooks' best films, those most effectively developed, are The Producers and Young Frankenstein, the latter being a remarkably respectful version of several earlier films. All comics are thieves. The best comics steal from the best sources. I thought about that when I saw this film again recently, wondering if Brooks' History of the World -- Part I was in any way influenced by The Story of Mankind (1957), a film based on Henrik Willem Van Loon's bestseller. For purposes of parody, The Story of Mankind would be an excellent target of opportunity. Those among its diverse cast of thousands (if not more) include Charles Coburn'(Hippocrates), Ronald Colman (The Spirit of Man), Cedric Hardwicke'(High Judge), Dennis Hopper'(Napoleon), Hedy Lamarr'(Joan of Arc), Peter Lorre'(Nero), Virginia Mayo'(Cleopatra), Chico Marx'(Monk), Harpo Marx'(Isaac Newton), Groucho Marx'(Peter Minuit), Agnes Moorehead'(Elizabeth I), Vincent Price (The Devil), and Cesar Romero'(Spanish Envoy). Whenever a list of the Ten Most Pretentious Movies Ever Made is formulated, The Story of Mankind is frequently and deservedly given serious consideration.
Despite its several flaws, The History of the World -- Part I remains a generally entertaining, at times hilarious film. Whenever I see it again, I feel eager anticipation as I await its strongest scenes, willing to endure its weakest meanwhile. To me at least, the previews for Part II (which conclude Part I) suggest why Brooks resembles the Little Girl with The Curl: "When she's good, she's very very good but when she's bad...."
on January 21, 2004
Mel Brooks is at the top of his game with this hilarious spoof on world history beginning with the Stone Age and touching on subjects all the way through the French Revolution. While much of the humor is far from sophisticated, it doesn't diminish the fact that the film is just plain funny!
Lots of comedic actors, great and small, make side-splitting appearances in the film, including Sid Ceasar, Harvey Korman, Dom DeLuise, Bea Arthur, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Jackie Mason, and Gregory Hines.
The beauty of Brooks' scathing spoofs of historical events and figures is that the humor is timeless, holding up just as well today as it did when the film was originally released in 1981. If you have never seen or heard of this film, rent or buy it now, as you have missed an iconic movie. I've even heard of European History professors using Brooks' wacky take on the Spanish Inquisition in their history classes.
When it comes to bawdy satire, Mel Brooks found it "good to be the King" in the 1970s and 80s!
on June 8, 2001
Mel Brooks has tried real hard over the years to be the KING of comedy. From his early tv appearances (I think it was YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS) to SPACEBALLS and DRACULA: Dead and Loving It; we've gotten a wonderful mixed bag of laughs. One thing's for certain: if you walk into the middle of a movie not knowing what it is, just a few minutes of a Brooks film is all it takes and you just know who the crazy man behind it all is!
If you twisted my arm and demanded to know what I think is his crowning achievement I'd choose YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (that's Fron-ken-steen!). But HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART ONE is also among my favorites of all time. I'm reduced to tears by the time "The Spanish Inquisition" comes to an end. Count the money...er, De Monet (Harvey Korman) stepping on the red carpeted peasants nearly turns me into a babbling idiot. Just thinking about when he takes an extra effort to step up on one of them is hilarous! This was the first Brooks movie I saw in the theater and it has stood the test of time! The dude with the radio ("...Funkytown!!") and Caesar's flatulence problem were dang funny to a 15 year old ("Here! Wash this!"). Okay! To a 35 year old too!!
It's fun to pick out all the cameos too: Bea Arthur, Henny Youngman, John Hurt, etc.
HISTORY gets 4 stars because the picture quality on the VHS was nothing special. Is the DVD any better?
on February 3, 2005
I was laughing so hard during this movie, I snorted, squealed, chuckled, and guffawed...yes, I admit it. But I'm sure you will, too! The humor can be quite coarse, but it's classic Brooks quality humor! It's good to be the King...of spoofery! Mr. Brooks at one of his finest works of art.
on July 21, 2005
This is my all time favorite movie. So many of the movies Mel Brooks made after this one offers quotes straight from this movie. It really is a very funny movie.