Lost Movie Set of “The Ten Commandments”

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge

1923 Silent Movie

Sphinx Head from “The Ten Commandments”

City of the Pharaoh from “The Ten Commandments”

Recovered Movie Set Pieces from “The Ten Commandments”

1930 Movie “Morocco” Filmed at Nipomo Dunes

Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge is located north of Santa Barbara.  The refuge has the largest and most extensive coastal sand dunes in California.  Cecil B. DeMille filmed his original The Ten Commandments at this location in 1923.  Before filming began, an entire Egyptian “City of the Pharaoh” was constructed on the dunes.  The scale of the production was amazing!  The elaborate movie set contained 300 chariots, 21 sphinxes weighing 5 tons each, and 4 statues of Ramses that were each 35 feet tall!   When filming ended, the set was secretly buried in the sand.  Now historians are using ground-penetrating radar to recover pieces of the set for display in the Dunes Center Museum.   A documentary on the film history of the area by Peter Brosnan is currently in production.   Past “Sahara” movies filmed on the dunes starred Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Gary Cooper, and Marlene Dietrich.  A more recent movie filmed on the dunes was Pirates of the Caribbean starring Johnny Depp.

UPDATE October 2014:  Recent excavation has unearthed one of the giant sphinx heads buried in the sand.  It will be displayed at the Guadalupe Dunes Center Museum.  Articles are at:  http://www.newser.com/story/197287/archaeologists-uncover-giant-sphinx-in-calif-desert.html   and http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/santa-barbara/cecil-b-demill-ten-commandments-excavation-nipomo-dunes.html 

UPDATE December 2015/January 2016:  After 30 years, the documentary by Peter Brosnan is finally finished!  The movie “The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille” is now being submitted to film festivals.  An article is at:  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/the-lost-city-of-cecil-b-demille-the-film-about-unearthing-a-1923-movie-set-that-took-30-years-to-a6787021.html

A trailer about the new movie is at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAfhfNGRACU&app=desktop

The official website for the movie is at:  http://www.lostcitydemille.com/index.html

Info about visiting the  display is at:  http://dunescenter.org/visit-the-dunes/dunes-center/exhibits-and-activities-research/the-lost-city-of-demille/

About Pam
Richard and Pam lived in the San Francisco Bay Area 14 years (1987-1999 and 2008-2011). They lived in Florida 13 years previously, until returning in July 2011 to present. They hope their photography will encourage you to get out and discover nature's beauty in your own backyard, parks, and wild places. Click on any pictures on this blog to see them full size with additional details.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: