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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

History of the World Part 1 [Blu-ray]


(Mel Brooks, 1981)






Also part of the Mel Brooks Collection on Blu-ray



Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Brooksfilms

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment



Region: FREE!

Runtime: 1:32:16.531

Disc Size: 32,189,642,342 bytes

Feature Size: 26,353,188,864 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.96 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard U.S Blu-ray Case

Release date: May,11, 2010



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080P / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video




DTS-HD Master Audio English 3203 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3203 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2687 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2687 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps



English, Chinese, Korean, French, Portuguese & Spanish



• Musical Mel: Inventing

• Making History: Mel Brooks on Creating the World (10:04)

• The Real History of the World Trivia Track

• Isolated Score Track in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

• Theatrical Trailer


Description: Fox’s Mel Brooks Collection, released in December 2009, included nine of Mel Brooks' ten films - absent only The Producers. At that time three of his movies were already available on Blu-ray (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs) and it seemed only a matter of time before the other six would find their way to becoming available outside the collection. Fox is releasing three of them separately on May 11: Robin Hood: Men in Tights, History of the World: Part 1, and High Anxiety. Presumably the remaining three will come out on their own at some later date.




The Film: 4
The childish bathroom humor that seeped into High Anxiety ripens to maturity in this vulgar, R-Rated disaster of a movie that, despite itself, manages some of Brook's funniest moments. Brooks covers the history of mankind from caveman to the French Revolution, with some segments hardly a minute in length, two others closer to half an hour. Sid Caesar is funny as the caveman leader. Mel Brooks is not funny as Moses who walks over his best line as he delivers the fifteen commandments to the Israelites. Madeline Kahn is Roman Empress Nympho (that says it all). Pamela Stephenson is a reluctant succulent willing to do anything to get Louis XVI to let her father out of the Bastille. Harvey Korman is the lecherous Count de Monet. Orson Welles is bored as the Narrator. I think that much of the movie would have played better as 1 or 2-panel cartoons. By this time Brooks had become lazy as director. The framing of most shots are pedestrian. The pacing is . . . well, better ask: what pacing? Ebert HERE and I are in agreement on this one:  which he describes as "unfunny bad taste."



Image: 8/9 NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The 2.35:1 widescreen image History of the World: Part 1, with its colorful and varied production values, made the transition to high definition video pretty much intact. The two big set pieces: Ancient Rome and The French Revolution are alive with color, texture, gaudy costumes and gaudier makeup. Print damage is close to zero and digital manipulations likewise.














Audio & Music: 7/7
The audio mix is also quite good, supporting the bright colorful visuals perfectly. The music is splashy and the dialogue crisp. There may not be much going on in the surrounds, but that works just fine for this movie.


Extras: 4
In "Musical Mel" we hear from composer John Morris, Broadway director Susan Stroman, choreographer Alan Johnson, and others who extol Mel Brooks, the musician and composer. "Making History: Mel Brooks on Creating the World" summarizes the movie and its production. "The Real History of the World Trivia Track" mixes fact with fantasy and attempts to separate them with a Brooksian sense of humor. There's really not much here, but at least the main items are in high definition.



Bottom line: 4
For unshakable Mel Brooks fans. There are some funny bits, mostly during the French Revolution segment. Miss Stephenson is almost worth the price of admission. Yes, indeed, it really is good to be the king!

Leonard Norwitz
May 15th, 2010






Also part of the Mel Brooks Collection on Blu-ray



About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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