Peter Brosnan talks Cecil B. DeMille documentary in AFI Fest discussion

Ninety-three years ago, Moses parted the Red Sea during the Silent Era, dazzling and captivating audiences as it brought The Scriptures to the scripts of Hollywood. But there would have been no Hollywood without the film’s director.

Peter Brosnan writer and director of “The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille,” discussed the making of his documentary based on the findings of legendary filmmaker and founder of the Hollywood motion-picture industry Cecil B. DeMille’s buried set of the 1923 version of the “ The Ten Commandments,” on Saturday, November 12 during American Film Institute’s AFI Fest.

In 1983, Brosnan and a team of archeologists began the excavation in the Californian Guadeloupe desert but the project remained unearthed due for 30 years due to a lack of funding, despite the publicity it kept receiving. It was not until 2010 when the project finally received the funding it needed to continue, said Brosnan in the discussion.

Among finding numerous sphinxes, including a smaller scale, portable sphinx, what Brosnan said initially sparked his interested in starting the dig, the team of archeologist also discovered several bottles of cough syrup in the 2012 excavations. But the most approving artifact was a thirty-five-millimeter film canister, Brosnan said contained the first attempts of using technicolor.

Despite the film’s box office breaking success, DeMille buried the ancient Egyptian city.

According to Brosnan, the reasoning why behind this choice was due to two things: first, the contract with the property owner the required to leave the land clean like its pre-filming state and second, so the film’s patent would be protected, especially so that amateur moviemakers could not leak a version before the film’s November release date.

However, when filming the 1956 version, DeMille asked construction workers to completely reconstruct the 1923 set but would be built in Egypt rather than Guadeloupe and with more colors. The original set Brosnan said, required a quarter of a million pounds of plaster and roughly 15,000 workers hired for the construction while set over a $144 million-dollar budget with Paramount.

According to Brosnan, filming for “The Ten Commandments” was scheduled for Arizona but after getting off a train DeMille decided that Arizona would not suffice, eventually stopping in a small unknown town that would soon prosper under DeMille—Hollywood.

“[“The Ten Commandments” set] is a direct connection to the earliest days of this industry,” said Brosnan.

“The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille” is still pending for release but slated for a 2016 date.

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