History of the World: Part I (1981)

“And of course, with the birth of the artist came the inevitable afterbirth: the critic.”

Mel Brooks takes a comedic romp through various stages of world history, including the Stone Age, Ancient Rome, the Spanish Inquisition, and the French Revolution.


It’s hard to know exactly why Peary includes this final pre-1986 Mel Brooks title in his GFTFF, given that the only other Brooks film he openly praises in any way is Young Frankenstein (1974). HOTW Part 1 (thankfully, there’s no …Part 2) is chock-full of typically Brooks-ian low-brow humor, minus any kind of cohesive satirical narrative to hold it together — in other words, even less of interest to anyone but his most diehard fans (of whom there are plenty). Naturally, in a film filled with insistently non-stop jokes and gags, at least a few are bound to elicit chuckles; as noted in All Movie Guide’s review, however, its “bad parts are so unworthy of its good parts that it creates a state of total schizophrenia.” Meanwhile, some of its “bad parts” (as in Blazing Saddles) edge beyond what most would consider common decency — i.e., a real-life chess game dictated by King Louis XIV (Brooks) in the French Revolution segment eventually devolves into a gang bang sequence that’s played for laughs. Film fanatics can definitely feel free to stay away from this one.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A few mildly clever sight gags and scenes

Must See?
No; despite its enduring popularity, this one is strictly for Brooks fans.


One Response to “History of the World: Part I (1981)”

  1. Not a must (by any means). Saw it once. Pretty much hated it – as a sorry excuse for a film.

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