The term “silent film” may lead people to believe that the genre is composed of soundless movies.
However, silent films are never actually silent. This genre of film includes audio and sound effects, but no audible dialogue.
This weekend, Santa Clarita hosted the 2023 Newhallywood Silent Film Festival at the Newhall Family Theater.
The event rediscovered the early days of popular films from famous film directors, such as Charlie Chaplin and Cecil B. DeMille.
Festival founder E.J. Stephens reflected on DeMille’s impact and legacy tied in with the community.
“He made several other hits, including a film called “The Virginian,” which was filmed right here in Newhall, [in the] same year, 1914. By the end of his first year in Hollywood, he had directed 20 films and almost every one of them was a major hit.”
The event inducted DeMille into the Newhallywood Hall of Fame and screened his film, “The Ten Commandments,” in celebration of the 100th anniversary.
For Peter Brosnan, a writer and documentary filmmaker, “The Ten Commandments” inspired him to search for the film’s set location after his friend keyed him in on a treasure hunt.
“He showed me DeMille’s autobiography in which DeMille talks about burying his sphinxes in the middle of California. I thought, my God if this is true, what a fantastic idea for a documentary film,” said Brosnan.
Brosnan’s film, “The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille” consists of research during 1983 on the set DeMille used to create his film. With use of interviews of people from DeMille’s set and hiring archeologists to dig it up.
“It took me 30 years to make ‘The Lost City’ movie. When it was done, we finally got to premiere it in Hollywood at the Egyptian Theater. The Egyptian Theater is where ‘The Ten Commandments’ premiered in 1923, so to have my film premiere there was fantastic.”
Brosnan’s “The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille” and the silent films screened at the festival can be found online and across various streaming services.