Follow TV Tropes


Film / History of the World Part I

Go To

"It's good to be the king!"

History of the World Part I is a 1981 sketch comedy film written, directed produced by and starring Mel Brooks.

Starting out with the Dawn of Man, cavemen discovering fire, cave paintings, and the art critic, the film skips to various 'important' areas of history usually with a unique interpretation of the events. Following this, the film touches on Moses receiving the Fifteen... er, Ten Commandments then takes time to waltz through the Roman Empire and end up at the Last Supper. They then sing and dance during The Spanish Inquisition, though nobody expects it. The French Revolution comes next with Brooks playing King Louis XVI and the piss boy (Don't Ask) that turns into the Prince and the Pauper though it ends well through a miracle. Before the credits are 'Coming Attractions' for History of the World Part II. The entertaining, history-based nature of this film makes it an example of The Abridged History.

Fun Fact: The melody for the song "Jews In Space," which closed out the film, was later recycled for another Mel Brooks film, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, while the concept itself evolved into Spaceballs, with its Druish Princess.

Other members of the cast include Dom De Luise as Emperor Nero, Madeline Kahn as Empress Nympho, Harvey Korman as Count de Monet, Spike Milligan as M. Rimbaud, and John Hurt as Jesus. Orson Welles provided narration.

On October 18, 2021, forty years after the first part, an actual History of the World Part II was officially announced in the form of an eight-episode sketch series produced for Hulu, set to premiere on March 6, 2023. Brooks is set to return as executive producer and writer, joined by Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, and Ike Barinholtz.

Not to be confused with history of the entire world, i guess and The Cartoon History of the Universe, which are both historically accurate rather than Historical Fiction but have strong Deadpan Snarker vibe.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adipose Rex: The Roman Emperor. Check your material carefully before performing at the Palace. Bonus points for the Emperor having stuffed an apple into his mouth while near a roast pig when Comicus says "Who wants to look like a big, fat pig?"
  • Adolf Hitlarious: "See... Hitler on Ice!". Also serves as a Multiple Reference Pun since Hitler really was on ice (meth) in real life.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of history in general.
    • The French Revolution section is largely a spoof of A Tale of Two Cities.
    • The Rome section owes a lot to Caligula and even moreso to the spoof Caligula II: Messalina, Messalina.
  • All Are Equal in Death:
    Court Spokesman: (whispering in Marcus' ear) Remember, thou art mortal! Remember, thou art mortal! Remember, thou art mortal! Remember, thou...
    Marcus: (whispering back) Oh, blow it out your ass!
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi:
    • Sephardi Jews during the Spanish Inquisition musical sequence speak with Yiddish accents with smatterings of Yiddish like "Oy gevalt!"
    • Moses does the same in both his scenes, even though Moses lives long before Jews emigrated to Europe or developed Yiddish.
  • Anachronism Stew: Plenty, from an ancient Roman carrying a boombox to Leonardo da Vinci, Moses, and some of the Romans appearing in the wrong time period. But of course, movies are magic.
  • Answer Cut: During the Last Supper.
    Jesus: Yea, yea, so you say, but one who sits amongst us has already betrayed me this night.
    Apostles: Who? Who could it be?
    Waiter: JUDAS!
    (Judas gasps)
    Waiter: Do you want a beverage? Try the mulled wine, it's terrific!
  • Answers to the Name of God: Again at the Last Supper scene, when Comicus says "Jesus!" (as an expletive) and the actual Jesus answers "Yes?"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "We've flattened their fingers, we've branded their buns, nothing is working. SEND IN THE NUNS!!!"
  • Artistic License – History: Quite a bit, all of it most likely being deliberate.
    • Several people in the 'Roman Empire' sketch talk about Christianity as if it is a distinct religion from Judaism, but the very last scene of that sketch has Comicus catering The Last Supper. Pre-crucifixion Rome would have considered Christianity to be a minor sect of Judaism if they knew about it at all.
    • In the Inquisition segment: Jews were outside the Inquisition's jurisdiction; it only dealt with Christians. The opening narration puts the scene at 1489, then mentions how the black death, which took place about a century and a half earlier, was underway.
  • Author Appeal: The Roman segment ends with the main characters emigrating to Judea, plus, the final segment is called "Jews in Space" with the Jews defending themselves successfully against attack.
  • Background Halo: As Jesus and the disciples pose for the commemorative painting of the Last Supper, the waiter 'happens' to be holding his tray behind Jesus's head.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: "Yes, yes, no, yes, yes, no, yes..." with a final "YES!" note  But what did you expect from someone named Nympho?
  • Bilingual Bonus: The beginning of the "French Revolution" segment. As the narration describes the desolation of the common Frenchmen, the camera pans in on a sign that says "Rue de Merde". This translates to "Shit Road".
  • Bowdlerise: AMC censorship ruins two of the film's best jokes.
    • Original joke:
      Dole Office Clerk: Occupation?
      Comicus: Stand-up philosopher.
      Dole Office Clerk: What?
      Comicus: Stand-up philosopher. I coalesce the vapors of human experience into a viable and logical comprehension.
      Dole Office Clerk: Oh, a bullshit artist!
      Comicus: (grumbles)
      Dole Office Clerk: Did you bullshit last week?
      Comicus: No.
      Dole Office Clerk: Did you try to bullshit last week?
      Comicus: Yes!
    • TV version:
      Dole Office Clerk: Oh, a bull
      Comicus: (grumbles)
      Dole Office Clerk: Did you bull— last week?
      Comicus: No.
      Dole Office Clerk: Did you try to bull- last week?
      Comicus: Yes!
    • Original joke:
      Leader of Senate: All fellow members of the Roman senate hear me. Shall we continue to build palace after palace for the rich? Or shall we aspire to a more noble purpose and build decent housing for the poor? How does the senate vote?
      Entire Senate: FUCK THE POOR!
      Leader of Senate: Good.
    • TV version:
      Leader of Senate: All fellow members of the Roman senate hear me. Shall we continue to build palace after palace for the rich? Or shall we aspire to a more noble purpose and build decent housing for the poor? How does the senate vote?
      Entire Senate: (raise arms and grumble to themselves)
      Leader of Senate: Good.
    • Arguably, Bowdlerising actually makes one moment funnier:
      • Original version:
        Roman Soldier: Moooove that miserable piece of SHIT!
      • TV version:
        Roman Soldier: Moooove that miserable piece of SHOOOIIIT!
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: King Louis always looks straight at the camera when saying "It's good to be the King."
  • Busby Berkeley Number: SEND IN THE NUNS!
  • The Caligula: Louis XVI. Groping everything in a skirt, turning a live chess game into a gangbang, trying to force Mademoiselle Rimbaud into sex in exchange for sparing her father, using peasants as targets in skeet shooting...
  • The Cameo: Quite a few...
    • Hugh Hefner as Roman Entrepreneur.
    • Bea Arthur as Unemployment Insurance Window Attendant.
    • Henny Youngman as Chemist
    • John Hurt as Jesus
    • Jackie Mason as Tortured Jew #1
  • Cameo Cluster: The "Ancient Rome" segment features a particularly large number of cameos, including Bea Arthur as an unemployment office clerk, Hugh Hefner as a Roman citizen (who recently invented the centerfold), and John Hurt as Jesus Christ himself.
  • Camp Gay: The announcer in Caesar's palace.
  • Catchphrase:
    King Louis XVI: It's good to be the King.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Combined with Deus ex Machina, the Roman Empire group help out Miracle towards the beginning of the segment. Miracle goes on to save them twice. First at the end of the segment, when they escape from the Emperor, then during the end of the French Revolution segment, in a carriage driven by Josephus.
  • Cool Horse: Miracle, a meaningfully-named pure white steed who is apparently awesome enough to travel through time.
  • Deus ex Machina: The horse "Miracle", which saves the day multiple times throughout "history". The last time, it even brings Josephus along for the ride.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Comicus already offended Emperor Nero with fat jokes, and was trying to change subjects to save face, and for some reason, decided politics was the best way to go!
    Comicus: When you die at the Palace, you really die at the Palace.
  • Fanservice: The girl who tests men too see if they're actually eunuchs.
    Marcus: He's a eunuch... He's a eunuch... he's dead...
  • Gasshole: Nero belches, then sits down and farts.
  • Got Me Doing It: DeMonet keeps correcting people who pronounce his name "De Money". Eventually he needs to correct himself.
  • Grapes of Luxury: DeLuise gets this treatment as Nero.
  • Groin Attack: During the Spanish Inquisition sequence, one of the imprisoned Jews claims that the Inquisitors played "ping-pong with my balls!" Played straight in the Roman Empire sequence when Comicus is trying to escape.
    Marcus Vindictus: [lifts sword] Goodbye, head!
    Comicus: [grabs Marcus's sword arm] Hello, balls! [knees Marcus in the groin]
  • Heroic Seductress: Mademoiselle Rimbaud. Even if she didn't want to, but if sleeping with the king will release her father...
  • Historical In-Joke: The title of the film. It is a play on The Historie Of The World, a work written by Sir Walter Raleigh. He only finished the first book before he was beheaded.
  • Horns of Barbarism: Parodied in the Viking Funeral, segment where the Vikings take off their helmets to reveal that the helmets aren't horned, the Vikings are.
  • Human Chess: "Knight jumps queen! Bishop jumps queen! PAWNS jump queen! GAAAAAANG BAAAAAAAAANG!"
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • "I don't care for the peasants?! They are my people. I am their sovereign. I love them... PULL!!"
    • From the same scene, he mentions detesting violence.
  • Identical Stranger: The Piss Boy looks identical to King Louis XVI, who uses him as a political decoy.
  • Inherently Funny Words:
    • DeMonet
    • Torquemada, which sounds like "Talk 'im outta."
  • Just a Stupid Accent: The Trope Namer. The French Revolutionaries place it fairly high in their list of grievances even. One even mentions that they all sound like Maurice Chevalier.
  • Literal Metaphor: "Let's end this meeting on a high note!"
  • Logo Joke: Two of them, actually:
    • The movie itself has the 20th Century Fox fanfare re-scored by John Morris.
    • Meanwhile, the main poster art (seen above) has Moses in the background standing atop the Fox logo itself while holding the Ten Commandments.
  • The Mel Brooks Number: There would have to be one with him. In this case, it's about The Inquisition!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Apart from Miriam, all the Vestal Virgins are played by authentic Playboy models.
    • Caledonia, very deliberately.
  • Mood Whiplash: After "The Roman Empire" sequence ends with a funny scene with "The Last Supper", we cut to "The Spanish Inquisition" which begins in a very bleak scene of monks chanting and Jews being tortured. Then the music starts and it's back to funny again.
  • Mythology Gag: Harvey Korman's role as Count deMoney (deMonET!) is a reference to his previous role in Blazing Saddles as the evil chancellor Hedy Lamarr. (HEDLEY!) Par for the course for a Mel Brooks film, really.
  • Nice to the Waiter: The French aristocracy, but especially Count De Monet, who throws Jacques' tip into the bucket of piss.
  • Odd Job Gods: One of Comicus' better-received jokes is that Rome has a god for everything but premature ejaculation, but he hears he's coming soon.
  • Oh, Crap!: Comicus, while expounding on political corruption.
    Comicus: It goes all the way up to the Emperor!
    Emperor: (Death Glare)
    Comicus: Shit.
  • Overly Long Gag: Comicus and Miriam romantically say "goodbye" to each other for quite a while.
  • Period Piece, Modern Language: The film is a very unserious look at history, from the Stone Age to the French Revolution, and is full of anachronistic dialogue (for example, "philosopher" is considered another word for "bullshit artist").
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!:
    • Mademoiselle Rimbaud begs the King to release her father.
    • Comicus pleads for Josephus' life after he gets the upper hand in a gladiatorial duel (due to Josephus slipping on a banana peel).
      Emperor: Let him... die!
      Comicus: (shrugs at Josephus) Tough shit.
  • Pronouncing My Name for You: Peasants and aristocracy alike pronounce Count DeMonet's name as "Count Da Money", only to have him redden with frustration and correct the pronunciation to "Dee Moh Nay."
  • Punny Name: Count DeMonet=count the money.
  • Really Gets Around: Empress Nympho. Just see the quote on Bigger Is Better in Bed, or her excitement with the prospect of Josephus working for her...
  • Reclining Reigner: Nero, natch. He even falls off it at one point.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: In the "French Revolution" segment, one of the street vendors sells rats for food, another sells apple cores, and a third sells nothing.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The other five Commandments Moses dropped.
  • Running Gag: "It's good to be the King!"
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: Hump/death/hump/death...
    • Your time is running out!
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: King Louis declares that he gets to make three moves in a row during his chess game.
  • Sequel Hook: Faked with a preview of features in ''History of the World, Part Two":
  • Sequel Snark: Even the title implies a sequel, and they do "previews" to Part Two, but it's clear they don't mean to make one. This is actually a reference to Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World, Volume I; he wrote it in prison in the Tower of London and was executed before he could write any other volumes.
    • Also part of the Running Gag of Mel Brooks's films mentioning a sequel that is never intended to be made. (Compare Spaceballs, where the title of a sequel is even given. And the movie itself appears to be "Chapter 11".)
  • Shout-Out:
  • Something Else Also Rises: Invoked by Marcus in the eunuch scene so that they can identify Josephus. It succeeds.
    Marcus: GET IT?
  • Space Jews: Possibly the Trope Namer, but otherwise an aversion.Why? 
  • Spontaneous Skeet Shooting: King Louis XVI practices skeet shooting on peasants catapulted into the air for the purpose. It's good to be the king.
  • Title 1: Done without the intent for a sequel (see Historical In-Joke above), at least until the 2023 streaming show came about.
  • Villain Song: The aforementioned song about the Spanish Inquisition.
  • Visual Pun: They're coming to The End.
    • "The streets are crawling with soldiers!"
  • Walk This Way: When Miriam, Comicus, Josephus, and Swiftus are entering the theater.
  • Wealth's in a Name: Count DeMonet (pronounced "de monay") was so well off that the Running Gag was to poke his annoyance button by pronouncing his name "count da money".
  • Who's on First?: The interaction between Jesus and the waiter at the Last Supper.
    Comicus: (upset after being told to leave) Alright, alright, Jesus.
    Jesus: Yes?
    Comicus: What?
    Jesus: What?
    Comicus: What?
    Jesus: Yes?
    Comicus: Jesus!
    Jesus: What?
  • World of Pun: And really, do you expect anything less with Mel Brooks?
    • "The servant waits while the master baits."
    • You can't Torquemadanote  anything!
    • Among the dishes that could be cooked with rats, "and of course, the ever popular ratatouille".
    • "Don't get saucy with me, Bearnaise."
    • Oedipus Rex has a cameo at one point.
      Oedipus: 'Ey, Josephus!
      Josephus: 'Eeey, motherfucker.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): History Of The World Part One, Mel Brooks History Of The World Part I


History of the World Part I

While Comicus works as a server during the Last Supper, he ends up exclaiming Jesus' name right in front of Him, who then responds to Comicus in kind.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnswersToTheNameOfGod

Media sources: