Kings of the Sun was the first time Hollywood had dealt with the mysterious history of the Mayan civilisation on the Yucatan Peninsular.
Without metals, horses, other work animals, or the wheel, these people built roads, pyramids, and temples to rival those anywhere else. They charted the heavens, devised a system of higher mathematics better than the Romans, and created a calendar as accurate as the modern one used today.
This film recreated the colour and sweep of an era and culture never seen before on film for the big screen. Director J. Lee Thompson took nearly two years in the preparation of the film, scouting the ruins of Mexico for authentic sites.
With the permission of the Mexican government, many scenes were shot against the actual monuments, but additional sets were built that included pyramids, temples and sacrificial altars.
Shooting began at the ruins in Chichen Itza in Yucatan, where the still-startling-looking ruins were restored for the cameras. Then the company moved to Mazatlan, where an entire Mayan village was constructed, and the extensive battle scenes were filmed.
Yul Brynner played Black Eagle, a North American Indian who led forces to destroy the Mayas, George Chakiris played Balam, the youthful king of the Mayas, and Shirley Anne Field portrayed Mayan Princess Ixchel.
The Mayans and the Indians ultimately unite against a fearsome people led by the wicked and merciless conqueror Hunac Ceel (Leo Gordon).
Top support was provided by Richard Baseheart, Brad Dexter and Barry Morse.
The film was based on an original story by Elliott Arnold.
Chief Black Eagle
Shirley Anne Field
Angel Di Steffano
J. Lee Thompson