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February 10 , 2008

Cecil B. DeMille

The Art of the Hollywood Epic


Colossal. Stupendous. Epic. These adjectives, used by movie companies to hawk their wares, became clichés long ago. When used to describe the films of one director, they are accurate. More than any filmmaker in the history of the medium, Cecil B. DeMille mastered the art of the spectacle. In the process, he became a filmland founder. One hundred years ago, he made the first feature film ever shot in Hollywood and went on to become the most commercially successful producer-director in history.

DeMille told his cinematic tales with painterly, extravagant images. The parting of the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments was only one of these. There were train wrecks (The Greatest Show on Earth); orgies (Manslaughter); battles (The Buccaneer); Ancient Rome (The Sign of the Cross); Ancient Egypt (Cleopatra); and the Holy Land (The Crusades). The best of these images are showcased here, in Cecil B. DeMille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic.

This lavish volume opens the King Tut’s tomb of cinematic treasures that is the Cecil B. DeMille Archives, presenting storyboard art, concept paintings, and an array of photographic imagery. Historian Mark A. Vieira writes an illuminating text to accompany these scenes. Cecilia de Mille Presley relates her grandfather’s thoughts on his various films, and recalls her visits to his sets, including the Egyptian expedition to film The Ten Commandments.
Like the director’s works, Cecil B. DeMille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic is a panorama of magnificence-celebrating a legendary filmmaker and the remarkable history of Hollywood.

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