History of the World: Part I (1981)

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.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Comedy
  • Historical Drama
  • Madeline Kahn Films
  • Mel Brooks Films

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 thought on “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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