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 variety series produced for Hulu. Brooks is set to return as executive producer and writer, joined by Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, and Ike Barinholtz, with production scheduled to begin in Spring 2022.
Not to be confused with history of the entire world, i guess.
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!"
- Aluminum Christmas Trees:
- Stand-up Philosophers aren't just this movie's Flintstone themed standup comedians. In Roman times rich people would hire philosophers to talk at parties so they looked more cultured.
- There were slaves called "aurigas" who would whisper in victorious General's ears "Memento Mori" ("remember you are mortal"), though in their case they were reminding them not to aspire to godhood.
- 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: 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. One notable bit is 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.
- 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!
Dole Office Clerk: Did you bullshit last week?
Dole Office Clerk: Did you try to bullshit last week?
- TV version:Dole Office Clerk: Oh, a bull—
Dole Office Clerk: Did you bull— last week?
Dole Office Clerk: Did you try to bull- last week?
- 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!
- Original version:
- Original joke:
- 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...
- 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 Comicus along for the ride.
- 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...
- Gag Boobs: Apparently Madame Defarge's are literally inflated with air, as she punctures them with her knitting needles.
- 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.
- 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:
- Torquemada, which sounds like "Talk 'im outta."
- KING LOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUWWWWWIIIIIISSSSS!
- 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!"
- 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.
- Oh, Crap!: Comicus, while expounding on political corruption.Comicus: It goes all the way up to the Emperor!
Emperor: (Death Glare)
- Overly Long Gag: Comicus and Miriam romantically say "goodbye" to each other for quite a while.Josephus: Look, stop with the goodbyes!
- Please Spare Him, My Liege!:
- Mademoiselle Rimbaud begs the King to release her father. The King's double later provides the page quote.
- 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 De Monet's name as "Count Da Money", only to have him redden with frustration and correct the pronunciation to "Dee Moh Nay."
- Pun: And really, do you expect anything less with Mel Brooks?
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: DEATH! TO KING! LOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUWWWWWWIIIIIIISSSSSSSSSSS!
- Punny Name: Count DeMonet=count the money.
- Really Gets Around: Empress Nympho.
- Reclining Reigner: Nero, natch.
- 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.
- 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":
- Hitler On Ice (Hitler ice skating)
- A Viking Funeral (They take off their helmets, and the horns are shown to be part of their heads)
- JEWWWWWWWS IIIIIIIIN SPAAAAAAAACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- The whole segment, along with the title of the film, is of course a Historical In-Joke (see above).
- 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.
- 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?
- Title 1
- 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.
- The X of Y