14 October 2018

Machu Picchu, Peru

The second part of the film SECRET OF THE INCAS is set in Machu Picchu, high in the mountains of Peru. After Harry Steele (Charlton Heston) and Elena Antonescu (Nicole Maurey) have stolen the plane from the Romanian consul (see Cusco, Peru), they set off to the old Inca town where a golden treasure might be hidden.

Machu Picchu, 30 June 2018
Not much is known about the origin of Machu Picchu ('Old mountain'). The city was probably founded around 1450 by order of Pachacuti, ruler of the Incan empire. Because of the location, on top of a mountain ridge at 7,217 feet (2200 meters) altitude, it is assumed that it was built as a royal retreat. The Spanish conquerors arrived in 1532 but never found Machu Picchu. Nevertheless, the Incas abandoned the settlement somewhere in the 16th century for unknown reasons.

It would take until 1911 before the American explorer Hiram Bingham, in search of another ruin, accidentally discovered the deserted city. When Secret of the Incas was filmed here in October 1953, the existence of Machu Picchu was only known for 42 years and tourism to Peru was on the rise.

Secret of the Incas, 1:36:41
The film will certainly have made the public curious. Nowadays, if you want to see Machu Picchu you have to beware of mass tourism. A ticket should definitely be bought in advance, and also a train ticket to Aguas Callentes. It is the only way (next to walking) to get to the monument. The number of visitors per day is limited, also a part of day (morning or afternoon) has to be chosen. This results in Machu Picchu being never too crowded. However, even if you decide to take the first bus in the morning from Aguas Callentes up to the mountain, you will have to wait in line with hundreds of other visitors.

Filming on location was limited to a number of overviews of Machu Picchu, including many local extras. All scenes in which actors appear were filmed in Hollywood. Part of the Inca City was recreated in the studio, not always accurate. When Harry and Elena arrive they see from a distance the tent camp of an archaeological expedition, led by Dr. Stanley Moorehead (Robert Young).

Secret of the Incas, 0:45:10
Machu Picchu, 30 June 2018
Secret of the Incas, 0:45:17
Machu Picchu, 30 June 2018

At the end of the film, the local people gather around a small hill. At the top is the Intihuatana ('Tie up to the Sun'), a mysterious ritual stone. Its function remains unclear, it is assumed the Incas studied the stars and the sun from this place.

Secret of the Incas, 1:35:41
Machu Picchu, 30 June 2018
Secret of the Incas, 1:36:58
Machu Picchu, 30 June 2018
Intihuatana, Machu Picchu, 30 June 2018

Screenshots © Paramount Pictures