Wednesday, May 12, 2010

History of the World Part I Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 30.1 GB
Film Size: 24.5 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: A
Video
History of the World Part I comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. This is the same Blu-ray disc that was previously included in the Mel Brooks Collection. The film looks terrific in high-definition. Detail is strong with this one, and the many settings in the film truly bring out some great moments. We get a great sense for textures, from the many styles of clothing throughout time and the environments in which the characters roam.

Colors are rich and look natural and black levels were always solid. There is a nice layer of grain present from beginning to end, with no signs of edge enhancement or DNR whatsoever. The release is not perfect though, it could use a bit of a cleanup, some that may be extremely difficult to fix.

Dirt and specks are mild, popping up occasionally but not excessively. The film itself does feature quite a few scratches and bigger marks though, which last only seconds but are certainly distracting. The scratches are few and far between but they are there, ultimately making the video presentation score drop a number. Despite the issues I found myself very impressed by the high-def image. 8.5/10.

Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option included. Also included is English Dolby Digital 1.0, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks. Optional subtitles include English (SDH), Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Traditional), Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.

The English 5.1 DTS-HD Mater Audio track is what I went with. The track is very front heavy, even the film's score tends to stay within the front left and right speakers. Dialogue always comes through the center speaker, although always clear as can be.

The music in the film and effects do expand lightly into the surround area, but always dominant within the front. There is nothing exciting about the track, it's clear and aggressive, but has very little direction in the mix. It's not disappointing at all, but it's not going to be considered an amazing track by anyone. 7.5/10.

Extras

Musical Mel: Inventing "The Inquisition" (10:40) (HD)
John Morris and others talk about the talent Mel had for writing broadway style songs for his films and the idea for a musical number in History of the World Part 1. Mel Brooks explains that you can say anything you want in a song and not be offensive or over-the-top, which is why he chose The Inquisition for his musical number, a way to remind people how horrible the time was.

Making History: Mel Brooks on Creating the World (10:04) (HD)
A great featurette on making the film. Cast and crew talk share memories from production and a lot of questions you may have about the film are answered in a short amount of time.

The Real History of the World Trivia Track
Real world history trivia, a lot of it is actually very interesting.

Isolated Score Track
Presented with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, view the film listening only to the film's score.

Theatrical Trailer (3:04) (HD)

Mel Brooks Trailers (HD)
High Anxiety
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Silent Movie
To Be or Not To Be
Young Frankenstein

Two new featurettes are included for this release and are presented in high-definition, and both are completely interesting and entertaining. It definitely is nice to get more insight on the film from those involved and the stories from production. The trivia track is fun and the inclusion of an Isolated Score track is great. I love the extra bit of work that went into the extras for the Blu-ray release. 7/10.

The Movie
Mel Brooks takes us on a trip through time in History of the World Part I. Making fun of the Roman Empire, the French Revolution, the Spanish Inquisition, and even takes us to space. That all sounds very crazy which doesn't help as far as creating a comedy that can truly be taken serious as a film. I like to consider a History of the World Part I a series of sketches and performances, such as Saturday Night Live, only without an audience and it's themed.

While Mel Brooks is the true star, playing characters such as Moses, King Louis XVI, Comicus and more, there are many familiar faces in the film as well. Those famous faces include Dom DeLuise as Emperor Nero with Madeline Kahn as Empress Nympho. Cloris Leachman as Madame Defarge, Harvey Korman as Count de Monet Gregory Hines as Josephus and Mary-Margaret Humes as Miriam. Bea Arthur is also absolutely hilarious for the few minutes she appears in the film.

They all are fantastic as their unique characters and they definitely make scenes in the film very memorable among Mel Brooks films. They all work perfectly together, with many of the actors already involved in his previous films. The movie is out there and doesn't hold back, which some may find annoying or slightly offensive, but you can't stay mad at Mel Brooks. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Blu-ray release is very strong despite a few flaws, featuring an impressive video presentation, fine audio track, and a fun selection of extras. History of the World Part I is an easily 'Recommended' Blu-ray release.

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