History of the World: Part I

1981 film by Mel Brooks

History of the World, Part I is a 1981 film that provides a history of mankind covering events from the Old Testament to the French Revolution in a series of episodic comedy vignettes.

Written and directed by Mel Brooks.
Ten million years in the making. The truth, the whole truth, and everything, but the truth!taglines
If climate change and pollution destroy the human race, and an alien civilization was to find just one work of art to understand the human condition, I can't think of anything better than "History of the World." ~ Matthew Rozsa

The Stone Age

Announcer: Even in most primitive man, the need to create was part of his nature. This need, this talent clearly separated early man from animals, who would never know this gift.

Announcer: And here, in a cave about 2 million years ago, the first artist was born. [a drawing of a buffalo is shown, and a proud artist] And, of course, with the birth of the artist, came the inevitable after birth...The critic. [the critic urinates on the drawing]

The Old Testament

Announcer: Moses went to the mountain and God spoketh to him.

God: Moses, this is the Lord, thy God, commanding you to obey my law. Do you hear me?
Moses: Yes, I hear you, I hear you...a deaf man could hear you.
God: What?!
Moses: Nothing, forget about it. Oh Lord! Why have you chosen me? What would you have me do for you?
God: I shall give you my laws, and you shall take them unto the people.
Moses: Yes, Lord! [lightning strikes behind the rock] Wow!

Moses: Lord, I shall give these laws unto thy people. Do you hear me?! Do you hear me?! All pay head! The Lord! The lord Jehovah has given unto you these fifteen... [drops stone tablet] Oy. Ten! Ten commandments for all to obey!

The Roman Empire

Man Outside of the Temple of Eros: [Hugh Hefner cameo] It's a new concept. It's called a 'centerfold'.

Dole Office Clerk: Occupation?
Comicus: Stand-up philosopher.
Dole Office Clerk: What?
Comicus: Stand-up philosopher. I coalesce the vapor of human experience into a viable and logical comprehension.
Dole Office Clerk: Oh, a bullshit artist!
Comicus: Hmmmmmm...
Dole Office Clerk: Did you bullshit last week?
Comicus: No.
Dole Office Clerk: Did you try to bullshit last week?
Comicus: Yes!

Miriam: Miracle! Oh, what a beautiful name! What's yours?
Comicus: Miracle. Uh, Comicus. I'm a stand-up philosopher.
Miriam: Oh, I'm Miriam, I'm a vestal virgin.
Comicus: I'm really sorry to hear that.

Marcus Vindictus: Seize him!!
Josephus: [grabbing his crotch] Seize THIS, honkus!
Comicus: [confidentially] NO! Don't ever say that to the fuzz!
Marcus Vindictus: SEIZE HIM! [his guards do so] Do you know the punishment for a slave who strikes a Roman citizen? [the crowd starts shouting and raising hands] OK, you...You had your hand up first.
Onlooker 1: Death by torture!
Marcus Vindictus: [FROM EARLY DRAFT, LATER REVISED] Be more specific, please.
Onlooker 1: [FROM EARLY DRAFT, LATER REVISED] ...You get drawn and quartered?
Marcus Vindictus: [FROM EARLY DRAFT, LATER REVISED] ...I don't think that's been invented yet. Who's got the encyclopedia? [A lieutenant produces a box marked "World Scroll - 33 A.D. Edition". MV selects a scroll marked "D"] ..."Drawing and Quartering - see Torture." [He selects another scroll, marked "T"] Here it is...No, that one doesn't come along until the Dark Ages. Good guess, though. How about you?
Onlooker 2: Crucifixion!
Marcus Vindictus: Wrong; that's the penalty for HIGH TREASON. Still, very good guess. You?
Onlooker 3: [FROM EARLY DRAFT, LATER REVISED] They force-feed you a mess of laxatives and then lock you in an airtight room, so that you choke to death on your own flatulence!
Marcus Vindictus: [FROM EARLY DRAFT, LATER REVISED] [flustered] Wow...! Ah, that's not correct, but - [to his lieutenant] Hey, are you writing this down? Who knows, we might have work for this guy. Go on, write it down!
Lieutenant: [FROM EARLY DRAFT, LATER REVISED] [writing it down] Hmmm, a GAS CHAMBER... [chuckles] ...That'll never catch on.
Marcus Vindictus: ...How about you?
Onlooker 4: They send you to the lions!
Marcus Vindictus: Right!
Miriam: NO!
Marcus Vindictus: What do you mean, no? He was correct; if a slave decks a Roman citizen, the slave is lion-chow!

Empress Nympho: [to her litter bearers] Could you please step on the same foot at the same time?! My tits are falling off!

Empress Nympho: Oh Bob, do I have any openings that this man might fit?
Crowd: Whooooaaaaaaa!
Bob: Well, we could use another wine steward.
Josephus: I got a great corkscrew!
Crowd: Whoooaaaaaaa!
Josephus: Damn, this a hip crowd!

Emperor Caesar: What's under the sheet?
Marcus Vindictus: Sheet? Oh! Oh, the sheet. Yes. To begin with, number one, a beautiful hand-carved alabaster bathing vessel!
Emperor Caesar: Nice. Nice. Not thrilling...but nice.
Marcus: Aha! But to fill the tub, behind curtain number two, treasure from the Orient!
[Music starts to play]
Emperor Caesar: Treasure! Bathtub! Treasure bath! I'm going to have a treasure bath! Treasure baaath! [laughs and screams]
Marcus Vindictus: Oh, Nympho. I would do anything, anything if you'd only grant me your favors. How can I entice you? How can I ensnare you? What bait must I use to catch your love? I am your servant.
Empress Nympho: Ahh, but the servant waits, while the master baits.
[Emperor Caesar laughs, then pulls a serious face, then pulls a golden disc from his behind]
Emperor Caesar: [hands it to the servant] Here, wash this.
Servant: Oh, yes, sire. [groans]

Empress Nympho: I love quick time march.

Oedipus: [begging in the street] Give to Oedipus! Give to Oedipus! Hey, Josephus!
Josephus: Hey, motherfucker!

Marcus Vindictus: Don't you know your left flank from your right flank?
Captain Mucus: I'm sorry, sir, I flunked flank.
Marcus Vindictus: You flunked flank! Get the flunk out of here!

Roman Soldier: Chemist, can you help me?
Chemist: What are you looking for?
Roman Soldier: A pack of Trojans.
Chemist: Gee, I just ran out!

Stoned Roman Soldier 1: So, do you care if it falls?
Stoned Roman Soldier 2: What?
Stoned Roman Soldier 1: The Roman Empire.
Stoned Roman Soldier 2: Fuck it!
[They laugh]

Comicus: [to the Last Supper attendees] Are you all together or are there separate checks?

Jesus: One of you has already betrayed me this night.
Various Apostles: Who? Who? Who? Who could it be?
Comicus: Judas! [Judas yells in fright] Do you want a beverage? Try some mulled wine, it's terrific!
Judas: No! Leave us alone!
Various Apostles: Go on! Leave! Get out of here!
Comicus: All right, all right! Jesus!
Jesus: Yes.
Comicus: What?
Jesus: What?
Comicus: What?!
Jesus: Yes.
Comicus: Jesus!
Jesus: What?
Comicus: Yes!
Jesus: What?
Comicus: You said "what".
Jesus: What?
Comicus: [gives up] Nothing.
Narrator: The year was 1489. The Black Plague ravaged the continent, it was the hour of the infamous, Auto de fé where, for public amusement, heretics and non-believers would be tortured in a carnival like atmosphere; and it was guided by the most fearful specter to ever sit in judgment over good and evil. The Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada.

Chief Monk: All pay heed, now enters his holiness, Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. Torquemada, do not implore him for compassion. Torquemada, do not beg him for forgiveness. Torquemada, do not ask him for mercy. Let's face it - you can't Torquemada (talk him outta) anything!
Torquemada: Let all those who wish to confess their evil ways and accept the true church, convert now, or forever burn in hell! For now begins the Inquisition!

Torquemada: It's better to loose your skullcap than your skull.
Jewish Prisoners: Oy! Oy! Gavolt!

Jew 1: I was sitting in a temple,/ I was minding my own business,/ I was listening to a lovely Hebrew mass./ Then these Papist persons plunge in/ and they throw me in a dungeon/ and they shove a red-hot poker up my ass!/ Is that considerate?/ Is that polite?/ And not a tube of Preparation-H in sight!

Jew 2: I was sittin' flickin' chickens/ An' I was lookin' through the pickin's/ When suddenly these goys break down my walls/ I didn't even know them/ But they grab me by the scrotum/ And they started playin' Ping Pong with my balls/ Oy, the agony/ Ooh, the shame/ They make my privates public for a game?

Monks: Hey, Torquemada, whaddaya say?
Torquemada: I just got back from the Auto de fé!
Monks: Auto de fé? What's an Auto de fé?
Torquemada: It's what you oughtn't to do, but you do anyway.

Monk: Who knows, Torque, you might win a buck!

Torquemada: How we doin', any converts today?
Guards: Not a one, nay nay nay.
Torquemada: We've flattened their fingers, we've branded their buns, nothing is working! Send in the nuns!

Everybody: [singing] The Inquisition, what a show!/ The Inquisition, here we go!/ We know you're wishin', that we go away!/ So come on you Muslims and you Jews,/ We've got big news for all of youse!/ You better change your point of view today!/ 'Cause the Inquisition is here/ and here...to...stay!
Impoverished Paris Street Merchant: Rats, rats for sale. Get your rats. Good for rat stew, rat soup, rat pies, or the ever-popular ratatouille.
Other Street Merchant: Nothing, I have absolutely nothing for sale!

Madame Defarge: We are so poor! We don't even have a language! Just a stupid accent!
Peasant Man: She's right. She's right. We all sound like Maurice Chevalier. Honh, honh, honh!

Madame Defarge: Now, repeat after me. [cough, cough, cough, spits. The peasants did the same] No, no, no. Dumb scum. I mean Death to King Louiiiiiiiis!
Peasants: Death to King Louiiiiiiiis!
Madame Defarge: Good! Good. Now let us end this meeting on a high note. [hits a high A] Eeeeeeee!
Peasants: Eeeeeee!

Count De Monet: Oh! But with this long trip and this exhausting conversation, I'm famished! Bernaise?
Bernaise: Yes?
Count De Monet: Do we have any of those delicious raisins left?
Bernaise: You ate yours, these are mine.
Count de Monet: Au contraire, they are mine! I paid for them! Hand them over!
Bernaise: [mimicking] Au contraire, I paid for them! They're - They're mine! [blows a raspberry]
Count De Monet: Don't be saucy with me, Bernaise. Hmm-mm.
Bernaise: [mouths] Bitch.

Bernaise: You should get rid of your tailor. I don't like your cuffs, I don't like your cuffs, I don't like your cuffs. A man's cuffs should be even with the tip of his peepee! Yours are all the way down to your balls!
Count De Monet: At least I have them.
Bernaise: You bitch.

Count de Monet: Gerald!
Gerald: Count da Money!
Count de Monet: de Monet...Monet! Say it! Monet!
Gerald and Count de Monet: Moonnet, Moonnet, Moonnet
Gerald, Count de Monet, Bearnaise: Mooonnnet!
Count de Monet: Perfect, don't forget! Give it to me again! Say it.
Gerald and Bernaise: Monet.
Count de Monet: Very good, where is his majesty, the king?
Gerald: Sir, the King is playing Chess.
Bernaise: Chess?! I hate Chess!

[King Louis is playing chess on a giant chessboard]
King Louis: Knight jumps Queen! Bishop jumps Queen! Pawns jump Queen! Gangbang! Come on jump the Queen! GANG BANG! Come on, let's all jump the queen! Whip out those little dicks, here we go!!
Bernese: The queen is such a good sport.
Gerald: Are you going to speak to his majesty?
Count de Monet: Perhaps later. We've had such a bouncy journey I simply must relieve myself. Where is the Garçon de Piss?

King Louis: [repeated line] It's good to be the king.

King Louis: Of course ya do it. Everybody does it. I just did it, and I'm ready to do it again.

Count De Monet: I have come on the most urgent of business. It is said that the people are revolting!
King Louis: You said it; they stink on ice.

King Louis: They are my people! I am their sovereign! I LOVE Them. Pull! [shoots peasant flung into air] Drifting to the left...

Count De Monet: [realizing that the King and Jacques look like each other] That's it! Your Majesty, you look like the piss boy!
King Louis: [offended] And you look like a bucket of shit!

Preview of Part II

See: Hitler On Ice
See: A Viking Funeral
See: Jews In Space


  • Ten million years in the making. The truth, the whole truth, and everything, but the truth!
  • A little something to offend everyone...

Quotes about

  • Mel Brook's History of the World - Part I shows its stripes right from the opening scene. In this Dawn of Man episode, apelike creatures rise up from the mud, learning to stand erect and reaching nobly toward the heavens. Then they begin bumping, grinding, rutting, gyrating and otherwise slipping back to the slime from whence they came. The movie, like these primitives, delights in being lowdown. Even by prehistoric standards, Mr. Brooks's latest comedy is especially crude... There are loads of familiarly funny gags in the film... But the movie is so sour that its humor is often undermined, because so many of the jokes are either mean-spirited or scatological, or both. Women are either explicitly predatory or stupidly decorative, and homosexuals are made fun of regularly. Bathroom jokes are everywhere. Flamboyantly bad taste, which Mr. Brooks raised to the level of supreme wit in his Springtime for Hitler number in The Producers, is this time just bad. A musical number about the Spanish Inquisition, with Mr. Brooks playing a torturer who merrily abuses Jews, is about as crashingly unfunny as a musical number can be...In Rome, we... watch a gladiator on an unemployment line, being asked... Did you kill last week? Did you try to kill last week?... As a waiter at the Last Supper, Mr. Brooks is seen asking the apostles whether they'd like separate checks. As Moses, addressed by the Lord, he mutters: Yes, I hear you, I hear you. A deaf man could hear you!
  • Brooks casts his comedic eye at humanity's past and... seems to view our story as one of big guys keeping little guys down. To quote the film's most famous line: "It's good to be the king." ...King Louis XVI (Brooks) goes clay pigeon shooting with peasants, where a man is thrown in prison for saying the lower classes "ain't so bad" and where the Roman Senate angrily shouts "F**k the poor!" Brooks doesn't merely lampoon economic injustices. Sexism, racism, anti-Semitism and human cruelty in general are all satirized... If there is a running theme in Brooks' view of major historical events..., it is that people with money and power have great lives. For people without those things — or who belong to marginalized groups in general — life stinks. ..the genius of "History of the World" is that it manages to subtly convey Brooks' social critiques in the packaging of a zany Borscht Belt comedy.
    If climate change and pollution destroy the human race, and an alien civilization was to find just one work of art to understand the human condition, I can't think of anything better than "History of the World." This is not being said in jest. "History of the World" captures one of the greatest joys of human existence — the ability to laugh — even as it recounts some of the most important events in our collective story. Perhaps most significantly, it chronicles the stupidity and selfishness that will have led to our downfall.