Watch History of the World: Part I
- 1 hr 32 min
As a comedic take on the history of the world, History of the World: Part I follows various events throughout different periods of history, from the Stone Age to the French Revolution. The film is structured as a series of sketches, ranging in length and tone. In the early segments, we see cavemen discovering fire, but quickly realizing that it can also be used to burn each other. The Roman empire is satirized with a send-up of the Biblical epic, where Brooks appears as Comicus, a stand-up philosopher.
From there, History of the World: Part I shifts its focus to medieval times, where we meet characters like Count de Monet (a riff on the character from Monte Cristo), who seeks revenge on the King by impersonating a nobleman. Later, the film tackles the Spanish Inquisition, with Brooks appearing as Torquemada, the grand inquisitor who ends up as the target of his own practices.
The final act of the film is set during the French Revolution, with Brooks once again in the lead as a lowly peasant named Jacques. Jacques becomes enamored with Mademoiselle Rimbaud (Mary-Margaret Humes), but finds himself at odds with the revolutionaries who are fighting for the rights of the people.
Throughout the film, Brooks is joined by an excellent supporting cast, including Gregory Hines as a slave in Ancient Rome, and Dom DeLuise as a hefty Emperor Nero.
As it should be with any comedy, the humor in History of the World: Part I is subjective, but it's generally known for being silly, tasteless, and occasionally clever. From puns and anachronisms to sight gags and risque humor, Brooks leaves few stones unturned in his quest to get a laugh. Some of the jokes are timeless (like the scene where Comicus bombs on stage in ancient Rome), while others are decidedly of their era (like the dance number set to disco music).
But beyond the gags, there's something endearing about History of the World: Part I that has kept it in the conversation for so long. For one thing, the film is unabashedly silly, and that sense of playfulness is infectious. Brooks and his cast are having a good time, and that energy seeps into the movie.
Moreover, there's a genuine sense of love for historical pop culture that Brooks brings to the table. While he's certainly not above poking fun at historical figures and events (see: Nero's fiddling with the Roman Empire), there's a certain nostalgia for the past that shines through. By showing us these historical eras through his slapstick-lens, Brooks invites us to have fun with history, rather than being bored by it.
Of course, not everything in History of the World: Part I works, and some viewers may find the humor dated, offensive or simply not funny. But if you're in the mood for a goofy, over-the-top comedy that has its heart in the right place, Brooks' madcap romp through the ages is worth a look.
Overall, History of the World: Part I is a classic Mel Brooks romp through history, filled with raunchy humor, silly gags, and a surprising amount of affection for bygone days. Whether you're a fan of musicals, spoofs, or just good old-fashioned comedy, this irreverent take on world history is sure to tickle your funny bone.
History of the World: Part I is a comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 32 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8 and a MetaScore of 47.