History of the World: Part I (Blu-ray)
Maybe its blasphemy to say I didn’t enjoy HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART I because I know how funny people consider the humor of Mel Brooks. Don’t get me wrong, I really like a handful of his films and everyone seems to have different favorites. Unfortunately this is not one of mine.
Mel Brooks runs through a small gauntlet of historical moments in the world. Narrated by the great Orson Welles, we start off with the beginning of man from apes to cavemen. We get a few instructions on how the first creation of art begat the first art critic and pain begat singing. A little too much time is spent during the Roman Empire with sprinkles of biblical times thrown in, followed up by a musical number of the Spanish Inquisition. The film ends with an uninspiring sexually charged time in the French Revolution.
When Mel Brooks makes a film he definitely pushes the envelope. In today’s time that envelope is pretty much non-existent and the humor feels a bit sophomoric. It is funny that he gets away with so many overt sexual jokes, which I did appreciate, but more for the shock value from an older film. The real shame is holding back during the biblical times which was by far the funniest moments, but unfortunately the shortest.
I think the main problem is that everyone remembers some key lines like the overrated “It’s good to be the King” and they think the entire film is funny. All the best scenes can be summed up in a short trailer, which is exactly what is shown when advertising the film. This is a classic case where the best stuff is shown in the trailer and has burned its images into people’s memory. As short comedic skits the film works but as a whole it drags with no clear direction and a definite lack of energy in pacing.
I want to be clear that I respect Mel Brooks and find him to be clever and funny. But not all his jokes work and not all his films work. For every ten jokes he might only have one land. I know people love Mel Brooks and I’m sure this will be great for their collection. My dad belly laughed more than a few times but that was after he had fallen asleep and woken back up during the course of the film.
There are a lot of jokes with a few that are extremely funny and have found their marks in film history. But those moments are so few and surrounded with such boring dread that I can’t in good conscience say I enjoyed HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART I. I’m sure I sound like the caveman critic peeing on the first creation of art but I don’t really need to watch the film ever again.
Video: (2.35:1 Widescreen) The picture was very clear for a film made in 1981
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD) The audio is definitely lacking which directly affects the enjoyment of the film. Many moments are too quiet or unclear to keep the pacing and energy up.
Musical Mel: Inventing “The Inquisition” (10:38): This talks about Mel Brooks talents as a comedic songwriter and how he incorporates them into his film. It particularly covers the making of “The Inquisition” song and dance segment.
Making History: Mel Brooks on Creating the World (10:04): This covers the origins and retrospect of the film and how Mel came up with the idea.
The Real History of the World Trivia Track: Pop up information some pertaining to the film, history or randomness while the movie plays
Isolated Score Track: A completely unnecessary feature that only plays the music while watching the film.