History of the World Part I
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.
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.
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.
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.
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+