From an ancient city to a modern(ish) town.

Peter Brosnan was 30 years old when he first heard about the Egyptian city buried under the sands near Guadalupe, California. Cecil B. DeMille had built this city for the silent version of The Ten Commandments (1923) and then, rather than let rival filmmakers use the set, he had it bulldozed into a trench. Brosnan decided to find these buried ruins, dig them out of the sand, and make a film documenting his discovery.

That was in 1982. Brosnan was still raising funds for his project when I interviewed him for Bible Review in 1998, for a sidebar to an article I had written on cinematic depictions of the Exodus. (If memory serves, I chanced upon a story about one of Brosnan’s fundraisers while browsing Variety magazine’s headlines. I had been online for only four years myself at that point, and I was scouring the internet for obscure stories even then.)

And now it is 2010. It has been nearly 28 years since Brosnan first heard about DeMille’s Egyptian city, and after spending nearly half of his life on this project, Brosnan is no closer to unearthing those monuments than he ever was. He has, however, amassed a lot of material on the town of Guadalupe over the years, and he now hopes to turn this material into a documentary about the town itself and the residents who often got involved in the Hollywood projects that came their way back then. He hasn’t quite got the funding for that yet, though, and he is still talking to Paramount about using footage from The Ten Commandments itself.

See the Los Angeles Times for the full story.

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About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).