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HISTORY

The 25 Aug 1917 Motion Picture News announced that 500 extras were filmed in a battle scene the previous week on a large Aztec village set built "in the foothills along the coast near Santa Monica [CA]." The elaborate construction included a 200-foot-high Aztec building with a treasure room which Artcraft Pictures Corp. claimed was "the highest ever built by any producing company of the West Coast." In the battle scene between Spaniards and Aztecs, many "daredevil divers" who leaped into nets or rolled down the steep incline suffered injuries, but director Cecil B. DeMille, anticipating accidents, had brought a Red Cross hospital tent and ambulance to the location. DeMille was set to shortly charter a train to take "a big party of players" to Yosemite National Park, CA, where another special set had been erected. Also, DeMille used a new stage at the Lasky Studio in Hollywood, where a set had been built with a large pool. The entire stage was covered with wire netting that transformed it into a large aviary that accommodated several hundred semi-tropical birds.
       The 8 September 1917 Motion Picture News reported, "Last week Director De Mille took a company of 200 people by special train into the Yosemite. This is the first time in the history of the photo drama that an organization of this size has been taken such a distance for filming of a small number of scenes....In building the gigantic pyramid, the highest set ever used in a motion picture, a force of 500 carpenters and stone masons were busy nearly two weeks working night and day. This one set covers an area of over two ...

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The 25 Aug 1917 Motion Picture News announced that 500 extras were filmed in a battle scene the previous week on a large Aztec village set built "in the foothills along the coast near Santa Monica [CA]." The elaborate construction included a 200-foot-high Aztec building with a treasure room which Artcraft Pictures Corp. claimed was "the highest ever built by any producing company of the West Coast." In the battle scene between Spaniards and Aztecs, many "daredevil divers" who leaped into nets or rolled down the steep incline suffered injuries, but director Cecil B. DeMille, anticipating accidents, had brought a Red Cross hospital tent and ambulance to the location. DeMille was set to shortly charter a train to take "a big party of players" to Yosemite National Park, CA, where another special set had been erected. Also, DeMille used a new stage at the Lasky Studio in Hollywood, where a set had been built with a large pool. The entire stage was covered with wire netting that transformed it into a large aviary that accommodated several hundred semi-tropical birds.
       The 8 September 1917 Motion Picture News reported, "Last week Director De Mille took a company of 200 people by special train into the Yosemite. This is the first time in the history of the photo drama that an organization of this size has been taken such a distance for filming of a small number of scenes....In building the gigantic pyramid, the highest set ever used in a motion picture, a force of 500 carpenters and stone masons were busy nearly two weeks working night and day. This one set covers an area of over two square miles and is the site of an immense battle in which a thousand persons take part. The interior views of an Aztec temples also offer novel scenes, the huge sacrificial room with its flaming altar being reproduced in the exact size of the chamber in which the High Priest sacrificed his human victims to the Aztec Gods."
       According to a news item, certain scenes in this film, including those showing the light of the sacrificial altars, were colored to give a near pastel effect through a process developed by camerman Alvin Wyckoff and producer-director Cecil B. DeMille. Modern sources state that DeMille was also the film editor, and name Charles Whittaker as the assistant director. DeMille, in his autobiography, noted that Julia Faye played "Tecza's" lady-in-waiting. Some sources list the film's length as six reels. Although no production company was listed for the film, it was made under the auspices of Famous Players-Lasky Corp., which at the time had a controlling interest in Artcraft Pictures Corp., the distributor and financial backer of the film.
       A four-page well-illustrated article in the January 1918 issue of Motion Picture Magazine detailed how DeMille spent three months before filming researching, designing, and creating Aztec costumes for hundreds of actors and extras.
       According to the Library of Congress American Silent Feature Film Survival Database, this film is extant.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Motion Picture Magazine
Jan 1918
pp. 47-50
Motion Picture News
25 Aug 1917
p. 1310
Motion Picture News
8 Sep 1917
p. 1638
Motion Picture News
17 Nov 1917
p. 3483
Motog
17 Nov 1917
p. 1055
Moving Picture World
20 Oct 1917
p. 330 (ad insert)
Moving Picture World
19 May 1917
p. 1181
Moving Picture World
9 Feb 1918
p. 832
NYDM
1 Sep 1917
p. 24
NYDM
10 Nov 1917
p. 18
Variety
2 Nov 1917
p. 29
Wid's
8 Nov 1917
p. 711
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Jesse L. Lasky presents
Cecil B. DeMille's production
An Artcraft picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 October 1917
Production Date:
summer 1917
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Artcraft Pictures Corp.
11 October 1917
LP11536
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
5
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

When the Spaniards, led by Cortez, land in the Mexican territory ruled by Montezuma, the king of the Aztecs, the emperor's daughter Tecza finds herself falling in love with Spanish Captain Alvarado, a prisoner of her people. In order to save her lover from certain death at the altar of the war god, Tecza opens the city gates to hordes of Spaniards who rescue Alvarado and then storm the emperor's castle. In the ensuing battle, the Aztecs meet defeat, and Tecza is cursed by her dying father who prophesies that she shall wander the earth deserted by the gods of all peoples. Alvarado offers her his love and the consolation of his religion, and Tecza finds salvation in embracing both her love and his Christian ...

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When the Spaniards, led by Cortez, land in the Mexican territory ruled by Montezuma, the king of the Aztecs, the emperor's daughter Tecza finds herself falling in love with Spanish Captain Alvarado, a prisoner of her people. In order to save her lover from certain death at the altar of the war god, Tecza opens the city gates to hordes of Spaniards who rescue Alvarado and then storm the emperor's castle. In the ensuing battle, the Aztecs meet defeat, and Tecza is cursed by her dying father who prophesies that she shall wander the earth deserted by the gods of all peoples. Alvarado offers her his love and the consolation of his religion, and Tecza finds salvation in embracing both her love and his Christian religion.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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