HISTORY OF THE WORLD, PART ONE

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History of the World Part I Cover How did the Earth evolve into the state of play that it has arrived at today? Was it something to do with a gradual progression of innovation upon innovation, which has amalgamated society to what it has become? Or else, was it something to do with a peanut? Intrigued? Then watch this film Directed by and Starring Mel Brookes, with Dom DeLuise, Orson Welles, Spike Milligan, and Harvey Korman. It was made in 1981, and lasts for 90 minutes.


History of the World Part I


THE STORY:
Please, come join the narrator of this gala exploration, Orson Welles, and hear him chronicle the life and times of this mud-ball that we all call Earth.

The Dawn of Man: During the stone-age, cavemen (including Sid Caesar), illustrate the invention of marriage – art – music – comedy – homosexuality – and critiques, all in a... err... hmm... very expressive manner, THUNK-THUNK-THUNK!

The Old Testament: Whilst standing on Mount Sinai, the holy prophet, Moses (Mel Brooks), is bestowed with the laws of God, stating that the ‘Fifteen Commandments’... CRASH! Make that the ‘Ten Commandments’, would ya?

The Roman Empire: Stand-up philosopher, Comicus (Mel Brooks), and his pal, the wine barer, Josephus (Gregory Hines), have both been ordered to fight with each other to the death – at Caesar’s palace – by Caesar himself (Dom DeLuise).

And why if that you may ask? Well, Comicus, for his bad jokes And Josephus, for accidentally spilling some wine onto Caesar. And do they fight? Well, kind of – that is until they hightail it out of the throne-room, with the assistance of Comicus new gal-pal, and vestal virgin, Miriam (Mary-Margaret-Humes).

You see, with her help, plus Comicus’ agent, they all make there way through: (1) Empress Nympho’s (Madeline Kahn) harem – with no thanks to Josephus shlong. (2) The courtyard – with thanks to a disguise and the horse named miracle. And (3) They then ride this stallion all the way to Judea, managing to outsmart the Roman Centurions – with a lot of help from a lot of pot.

Here, at Judea, they all get jobs to save up some money. Comicus’ job is as a waiter in an inn – primarily blundering his way into a ‘last supper’ taking place. Jesus Christ knows whose it is though!

The Spanish Inquisition: In this morbid period of history, we see the infamous, Torquemada (Mel Brooks), torture, maim, and brutalize many heathens within his squalid sanctuary. Let’s Dance!

The French Revolution: Two scenarios intertwine with each other, which I am afraid to say causes the piss-boy, Jacques (Mel Brooks), a great deal of concern.

Now the first scenario is when King Louis of France (Brooks again) is approached by Mademoiselle Rimbaud (Pamela Stephenson), whom asks him to free her father, Mlle Rimbaud (Spike Milligan), because he is locked away in a dungeon for heresy. Brashly, the King agrees with her plea – but only if she will meet him in his bedchamber later that same day, for a quick bunk up.

IT’S GOOD TO BE KING!

The second scenario is when Count de Monet (Harvey Korman) convinces King Louis of France, that revolution is in the air, and that he should consider a double just in case a revolt arises. The King agrees with this ploy, and the Count manages to usurp Jacques, the piss boy, into this role.

IT’S GOOD TO BE KING!

Both of these two scenarios join together whilst Jacques is posing as the King, and Mademoiselle Rimbaud mistakenly comes to him to satisfy her part of her agreement. But Jacques is a gallant man, and allows for her father to go free with out any hanky panky. Unfortunately, though, as soon as Mademoiselle Rimbaud lets her father out of the dungeon, the peasant’s revolts, and Jacques is headed straight for the guillotine.

IS IT GOOD TO BE KING? Or does Jacques need a miracle?

Coming soon, The History of the World, Part 2.




THE REVIEW:
OK, so basically, 'The History of the World, Part One', is Mel Brooks answer to ‘Monty Pythons Meaning of Life’. Who asked the question? Mel probably? But, come to think of it, Monty Python did their sketch movie two years after this one – so this point is kind of moot really.

Oops!

Still, the comparison between these two films is kind of unnerving, because you can tell where Python have learnt from the mistakes that Mel has made in this film, and then improved upon their own. Now this is not to say that this film is rubbish, because it is not, it’s just that this film has one fundamental flaw to it. No – not the comedy – not the direction – not the style – not the actors – but the overall structure.


Spike Milligan in History of the World Part I


Don Deluise in History Of The World, Part One
You see, this film is structurally unsound within the confines of the sketch format it offers, and this makes the overall package seem somewhat lopsided. What I mean by this, is that each ‘sketch’ has vary's in length – with the first, second, and fourth sketches, fleeting – whereas the third and the six is somewhat more expansive. I just found it strangely unnerving on first viewing is all, and this point stood out a little too much for my liking. Also, because the longer segments where not as ‘punchy’ as the shorter segments – they were subliminally affected as well, and appeared to dwindle more than they would have otherwise.

Now the content within each segment is just fine all in all, with each of them presenting upon the screen a ‘Mel like’ tale of time’s past. My personal favorite out of the bunch were the first two segments – as Sid Caesar plays a really good caveman – and if Hollywood ever thinks about doing a remake of the Moses parable, Mel’s their man. Moreover, it was especially nice to see some of the cameo appearances too – all of them in one way or another melding with Mel’s brand of Jewish humor. Plus, on top of that, there were the usual ‘Mel Brooks players’ – all of whom obviously synergize with Mel as well.


History of the World Part I Cast Picture


Mel Brooks in History Of The World, Part One
Here. Take look at some of the filmic facts: (1) Just like another of Mel's films, 'Blazing Saddles', Richard Pryor was cast in this project. However, just before filming, Richard caught himself on fire whilst taking drugs, prompting Mel to cast newbie actor, Gregory Hines, instead. (2) The person responsible for the matted paintings in this movie, Albert Whitlock, was the man in the Roman era, selling used chariots. (3) The showgirls scene -- in the Spanish Inquisition routine -- was actually recorded backwards, and played back forwards. (4) The title of this film came up by accident, because Mel was sick and tiered of people asking him what his next project was going to be. (5) The vestal virgins in Caeser's palace were all Hugh Hefner's Playboy playmates. Hugh is in this film too. (6) There was a lot of recycling going on in this film. The tune used in 'Jews in Space' was later used in 'Robin Hood: Men in Tights'. The Red Sea scene has been used by Universal Studios' in a attraction. The Viking Funeral scene was taken from the film 'The Vikings'. Plus actors, Harvey Korman, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn, and Cloris Leachman, all worked with Mel many times before and since. (7) This was John Myhers final movie. (8) John Hurt got a job on this film because he worked with Mel on 'The Elephant Man', and he wanted to make a comedy also. (9) Mel did a lot of work on this film. He acted in five roles, was writer, producer and director, as well as composer and lyrics writer for the songs "Jews In Space" and "The Inquisition". (10) This is my favorite scene of the movie:




Listen, apart from the structural flaw, ‘The History of the World, Part One’ is a really great film, and a must see for any fans of Mel Brooks or ‘Monty Pythons: Meaning of Life’. A screen gem.

THE RATING: B+