'The Lost City of Cecil B DeMille' Review

Who wouldn't love a film about a dismantled film set turned archaeological dig? Indeed, film buffs and excavation junkies alike will enjoy a look into the foundation on which Hollywood cinema was built in filmmaker Peter Brosnan's (writer of the 1997 action-thriller Perfect Target) directorial debut, The Lost City of Cecil B DeMille, which screens at this year's Santa Fe Film Festival on Friday Dec. 9 at 1 pm at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.

DeMille, one of the most famed auteurs in cinematic history, helmed numerous biblical films from 1913 through the '50s. After filming The Ten Commandments (that 1956 Bible-to-blockbuster epic wherein Charlton Heston, as Moses, frees the Jews), he ordered the gargantuan Egyptian-style set to be destroyed and buried in the sand dunes of Guadalupe, California, where it remained hidden for over 60 years.

The Lost City of Cecil B DeMille follows Brosnan and archaeologist/fellow film enthusiast John Parker as they embark upon a journey to unearth the legendary set remains and (hopefully) reach their ultimate goal—finding the Egyptian Sphinx replica.

Although DeMille ordered his set to be secretly hidden, a subtle clue found in 1959's The Autobiography of Cecil B Demille, published after his death, indicated the whereabouts of the lost city. It left Brosnan and Parker obsessed, spurring a quest that began in 1983, and that continues to uncover bits and pieces to this day.

Brosnan and Parker document every step of the way, from hearing the DeMille legend in a bar to battling for the rights to dig in Santa Barbara County. With the addition of interviews with DeMille's descendants and film colleagues as well as archaeologists, Brosnan portrays their efforts as a tempestuous fight to uncoverthe film titan's legacy, but one that was ultimately worth it.

The Lost City of Cecil B DeMille
Jean Cocteau,
88 min

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