Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Ten Commandments and Cecil B. DeMille

Cecil B. DeMille
Many are familiar with the film The Ten Commandments, made in 1956 starring Charlton Heston and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. What some do not know is this film was actually the second film entitled The Ten Commandments that DeMille produced and directed in his career.

His first film The Ten Commandments was silent and was in black in white. He filmed it in 1923. DeMille used a stretch of dunes along the central California coastline as one set during the filming of this first version.

DeMille felt The Guadalupe-Napomo Dunes were an ideal setting to represent ancient Egypt. He bought in a 1600 man crew to build his “City of Pharaohs” set. He had them build a palace, gate, sphinxes and pyramids.

1923 set on dunes.
This first version was a huge success and established DeMille’s reputation in Hollywood as a creative and innovative director.

Several of the eighty films DeMille made in his 43-year career told Bible stories. His father was a lay minster who sent Cecil to private Christian schools. Among his other films are Samson and Delilah, 1949, King of Kings, 1927, and Cleopatra, 1934.

These along with both Ten Commandants were blockbuster hits.

At the time DeMille finished his first Ten Commandments film newspapers from around the world were heralding the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. After filming was complete, DeMille not wanting second-rate directors to use his dune set had his crew cover the entire 720-foot set in sand.

Excavation of set in 1999.
This set basically became a “lost city” for many years. A group of film historians in the 1990s re-discovered it. Wind erosion had uncovered part of it and El Nino did the rest.

Some have seen Cecil B. DeMille ghost at this old set. He often stated that his first Ten Commandment’s film was his favorite. Some feel this is the reason why he haunts these dunes.

DeMille was a flamboyant character that always wore riding boots, Khaki breeches and a broad brimmed hat while he directed his films.

Witnesses state that they have seen his figure dressed in this attire standing in front of his old set, his feet firmly planted in the sand.

His ghost is known to motion to witnesses to move. Some speculate he felt he was "directing" them.

Other witnesses have stated that his ghost glared at them while they talked--it seems he is aware of the living.

Dunes along the coast.

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