Calif. Museum to Showcase Relics of 'Ten Commandments' Silent Movie

A California museum has decided to showcase relics from the large set once used by Cecil B. DeMille to film his silent movie epic "The Ten Commandments."

The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center, a conservation entity focused on the local ecosystem of Guadalupe, began displaying items from the buried set of the 1920s biblical epic. Known as the "Lost City of DeMille," the exhibit featuring the latest unveiled items from the excavated site began with an event Friday evening at the Dunes Center.

"Join the Dunes Center as we unveil the latest artifacts in our exhibit entitled 'The Lost City of DeMille' during the 90th anniversary of Cecil B. DeMille's filming of the epic Ten Commandments in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes," reads the event's description.

"Guests are invited to dress in their favorite 1920s clothing to commemorate the Ten Commandments filming that took place in 1923. The Guadalupe Cultural Arts and Education Center will be open in conjunction with the Dunes Center for this event."

Doug Jenzen, executive director of the Dunes Center, told The Christian Post that the event and exhibit was done to show the exciting work being done in northern Santa Barbara County.

"The process of extracting the artifacts from the site the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dune Complex has been 30 years in the making," said Jenzen. "It has been a very high-interest story, so we decided to have an event surrounding the unveiling of the latest artifacts to be excavated."

Jenzen also told CP that the artifacts discovered included more movie props and sets, as a large number of cast and crew lived at the site during filming.

"We also have items that people utilized while they lived in the dunes during the filming of the movie," said Jenzen.

"There were 3,500 actors and 1,500 construction workers in the dunes, and they all lived in a tent city that has been dubbed 'Camp DeMille.' These types of artifacts range from an Eastman Kodak film tin to a makeup compact."

Released in November 1923, DeMille's 136-minute silent film "The Ten Commandments" had an estimated $1.8 million budget, which was considered exorbitant at the time.

While DeMille's classic went well over budget, the film would become one of the most successful movies of the silent era.

"The Ten Commandments" was not the only biblically themed epic film DeMille would direct. In 1927, DeMille's rendition of "King of Kings" was released and became a success as well.

The set used for the film, dubbed "The City of the Pharaoh" by the producers, was 120 feet tall and included 21 sphinxes that each weighed 5 tons. According to Jenzen, the set itself spans 720 feet in length.

"Typically movie sets were dismantled and utilized in later films and were gradually destroyed," said Jenzen. "The Ten Commandments is unique in that it was buried, thereby making it the only existing movie set from the Early Hollywood Era."