Mel Brooks' History of the World (1981)

Reviewer: Shannon H.

The average person would probably admit that he or she hated history in school. Others would admit to falling asleep during US History in high school. And there's the select few who made straight A's in Advanced Placement high school classes Of course, teachers look for ways to make this subject a lot more fun to learn. Films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail is funny and entertaining. So is Mel Brooks' History of the World: Part I.

The story travels through different time periods, starting with the prehistoric age where the scenes are abound with the stereotypical cavemen grunting and making weird vocal noises. Quickly moving from the stone age to Biblical times, we see Moses (Mel Brooks, director of this film) on top of Mt. Sinai, delivering FIFTEEN Commandments on three different tablets (Moses accidentally drops the third tablet, hence, only Ten Commandments). The history presented here is about 50% accurate, since Brooks is not pushing for authenticity, rather for humor and a way to poke fun at our past. Now, we move from Biblical times to the time of the Roman Empire in its prime. Here, famed "stand-up philosopher" Comicus makes his way through Rome to find work and a steady stand-up gig for the Roman Emperor. He even tries to go to an unemployment office for a job, meeting with a vulgar office clerk (Bea Arthur). After getting into the Roman court amid vestal virgins, the Emperor's guards and female concubines, Comicus finally gains an audience with the Emperor himself (Dom DeLuise) with disastrous results. The story continues to travel through time from the Roman Empire to the Spanish Inquisition to the French Revolution. 

This film does make fun of Christians and Jews, but isn't intended to be cruel or mean-spirited. It's more of a "we're not laughing AT you, but we're laughing WITH you" kind of humor. For example, Comicus does make this comment while doing a gig for the Roman emperor: "So, have you heard about this new guys, the 'Christians'? They are so poor... that they only have ONE God!" Jesus is portrayed in a funny way, as well, but might be offensive to some. Christians should be aware of the content before renting it or watching it on television (considering Mel Brooks' history of filmmaking; this is coming from the guy who made Blazing Saddles). It's a funny way to learn history, but don't count on it to be accurate or rely on it to be a spiritual lesson.

 

Sexual Content:

There are a couple of glimpses of rear male nudity, presented in a sexual manner. Innuendoes are present.

Language:

There are utterances of the f-word as well as d***, a**, and s***.

Violence:

The violence is limited to slapstick comedy.

Other:

Comicus and his friends are seen using marijuana to ward off Roman centurions during a chase scene.