Thursday, April 7, 2016

History Of The World Part 1 - Nostalgia Trip

Talking about the most 'accurate' history film of all time...
I actually produced two versions of the vlog, one with a clip from the movie and one without... I elected to only post the one without the video clip because I'd hate to get smacked with a 'content ID' claim until the dust settles as far as 'The DMCA' goes. 




TEXT VERSION

History Of The World Part 1

Hello and welcome to the Basement... and this week's Nostalgia Trip...

As a kid, my father didn't discourage me from watching a number of different kinds of moives that many parents of today would balk at showing their own kids... and it was because of this that one of my favorite movies is Mel Brooks' 'History Of The World Part 1'

What can I say about a film that sets a high bar for parody and what I personally regarded as one of the funniest films of all time...

Well... despite that.. the film was a great introduction to history... and it's approach to turning history on its ear for comedic effect was something I would see again years later with Animaniacs... giving the historical truths... or even myths, with a spin on it that one would not expect.

For example, Moses going up to Mount Sinai and coming down with the ten commandments, turning out their were actually 15... but he happened to drop a tablet... which as I sit here and think about it, this was a precursor to a joke on the Mel Brooks  Carl Reiner album, the 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000... where Mel as the 2000 Year Old Man, says there were more commandments... with one being thou shall not squint... but what was the big message with that one?

Anyway I digress, another more spot on example was during the Roman Empire sequence , where Comicus (played my Mel Brooks) is going to perform for Ceasar as his palace... and it turns out it's a Roman Ceasar's Palace in the style of its Las Vegas namesake.  Or even more famously, turning the Spanish Inquisition into a big song and dance musical number, again putting the twist on the actual history. I love stuff like this.

But beyond that... look at the cast beyond Brooks himself... Orson Welles, Dom DeLuise, Cloris Leachman, Gregory Hines, Sid Caesar, Bea Arthur, John Hurt.... which actually gives some weird credence to "The Doctor" is Jesus meme since Hurt would go on to play the War Doctor...Boy am I getting myself off track, anyway, just that sampling of the cast, some in cameos and some in large parts, it's certainly a whose' who of talent.

And then is of course, 'It's Good To Be The King', a line from the French Revolution segment entered pop culture, Brooks got a Top 100 single out of it, hell it ended up being the title of Jerry Lawler's autobiography while also being refereed to in other films by Mel Brooks (said directly in Robin Hood: Men In Tights while changed a bit in Spaceballs)... while also being the name of an episode of Stargate SG-1.

But getting back to the film over all, does it hold it? Well... comedy is always a matter of taste, but for me I have to say indeed it does, some references, while dated by today's standards, still work (for example Hugh Hefner appearing in a cameo saying he has new concept... a centerfold...), and the dialog is sharp enough with great timing to still get a laugh.

The question comes down to, since it's a parody, does knowing about the historical and mythological references help enhance the enjoyment? I don't think so... as I said, I watched this movie a lot as a kid, and enjoyed it... and years later as an adult  I find History of the World Part 1 to be film that is timeless.
But don't take my word for it, watch the movie and judge it for yourself...

Till next time my friends.

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