Recently an interesting item crossed my virtual desk that I thought might be of interest to those of you who’ve been following the deMille Saga. A friend who’d previously heard me talking—well, let’s be honest here—geeking out about the Lost City and my various expeditions to try and find it shot me an email about an upcoming (now downgoing) film premier that would be taking place at the historic Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The name of the film? The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille.
The venue was, of course, perfect for the film, being both an iconic part of Hollywood history and shaped like an ancient Egyptian temple, much like the Lost City itself. The film was an independent documentary about a group of interested amateurs (so, people rather like myself, I suppose) and their quest to locate the Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille, uncover the story behind it, mount an official archeological expedition to the site, and make a documentary about it (yay self-referential storytelling), a quest that spanned nearly three decades. A saga in of itself, probably—nay sir, definitely moreso than my own.
One of the things that immediately struck out to me is that their adventure carried a very similar underlying theme to my own, that is, that anything that could possibly stand in the way of their goal, no matter how oblique, somehow found a way to do so. Weather, bureaucracy, corporate regime changes, stuff I would never even think of, perfectly timed to completely throw a wrench in the gears your expedition. I still maintain that I do not believe in curses, but that’s pretty spooky, right?
Jokes aside, the film is both sweeping in scale and distinctly human in tone, juxtaposing the search for the Lost City with the behind-the-scenes story of the filming of The Ten Commandments (a history nearly as epic as the film itself).
The film also forced me to rethink exactly what it was I was looking for. Not a crumbling but nonetheless solid ruin which had been abandoned and subsequently swallowed up by the pseudo-desert, but a hollow façade that had been pushed over and deliberately buried to keep it from falling into the hands of a rival studio. If anything, my best shot of actually seeing the Lost City is the Oso Flaco Dunes Center, where the face of one of the sphinxes and several other artifacts uncovered by the expedition are on display, not at the actual site itself. Not that I’m going to stop trying to get there, of course. If the film taught me anything, it’s that perseverance pays off.
For those interested in seeing it (and you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t) the film will not be receiving a full theatrical release, but is available for streaming on Amazon Video, Google Play, and Vudu.