Movies are complicated now—so much CGI, convoluted plotting, showy direction and editing. Let’s talk about something simple, something effortlessly entertaining—like gas. As Louis CK said summarized succinctly during an appearance on The Daily Show years ago when Jon Stewart was still hosting: “A fart is funny.”

This video essay tracks the history of flatulence on screen, from Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles through to modern comedies. But even more intriguing are the various uses of characters passing gas in what are ostensibly dramas, like Dances With Wolves or Yasujiro Ozu’s Good Morning. We tend to treat farts as sophomoric humor that only has a place in raunchy comedies, but films throughout cinema history have found unique and even endearing uses for a universal bodily function.