Once thought to be lost, first feature film shot entirely in Utah re-emerges

Posted at 10:13 PM, Feb 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-16 00:13:29-05

Utahns got to take a rare glimpse into state history Thursday evening at the showing of the very first feature film shot entirely in Utah.

Ramona is a silent film from 1928, and up until the last decade, it was thought to be a long lost part of Utah's past.

Screening Utah series Director James D'Arc said Ramona disappeared after its release.

"It was only discovered less than eight years ago in a Czechoslovakian film archive," he explained.

Another version was discovered in Russia three years ago, he said, intact with the film's original tints and tones. It's that version folks came to enjoy in Post Theater at Fort Douglas Thursday evening.

Shot in 1927 in Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Springdale, Ramona portrays a tragic love story based on Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 novel of the same name.

When Ramona hit theaters nearly a century ago, it would have been accompanied by organ music.

"There's a feel in this film, an older time of another country," said organist Blaine Gale.

Gale planned to play the organ live for Thursday's showing, but technological difficulties meant the audience heard a previous recording from a past showing.

Still, folks at the theater got to take a peek into a usually forgotten about piece of the state's past.

D'Arc said he hoped the audience took away a sense of appreciation for Utah's history, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.