Former lost film The Cave of the Silken Web screenings!

Cave of the Silken Web 1927

One type of movie news story I love hearing about is formerly lost films being found, restored, and screened around the world. So it’s time once again for one of these feel good tales, via our good friend duriandave from SoftFilm. The 1927 version of The Cave of the Silken Web (盤絲洞) – long thought lost, was discovered in the Norwegian National Library, and has since been restored and is now able to be screened.

Much of older Chinese film is long lost, due to various reasons – poor storage, fires, bankruptcies, Japan invading China, censorship issues. Surviving material is rare, and most books and blogs on the older films are forced to make do with stills and other promotional material for a majority of the films. But there are occasional films that beat the odds and are still with us.

The Cave of the Silken Web is from a genre that was termed “ghost-spirit” (神怪) films, which were popular in the 1920s. It was directed by Dan Duyu and starred his wife Yin Mingzhu, who were a popular celebrity couple in Shanghai in the 1920s. It was common for production companies have husbands directing and wives starring, such as Zhang Huichong and Xu Sue, Zhang Huimin and Wu Suxin (a commonlaw marriage), and Ren Pengnian and Wu Lizhu.

As you are probably aware, The Cave of the Silken Web is an adaptation of the story from Journey to the West where a cave full of spider women plot to eat the Monk Xuanzang, and Monkey and Pigsy have to save the day. This also means there is a 1927 paper-mache spider! That alone makes this film worth watching. The story has have other adaptations, probably most famously the 1960s Shaw Brothers version, but it is also in Monkey War and alluded to in the A Chinese Odyssey films.

You can see a bit of the film in the clip on the Norwegian site. There is also more English information about it here. The Cave of the Silken Web better get a screening in the Bay Area, or I will kick some spider butt!

More info on older Chinese film:
duriandave’s Softfilm site
The Chinese Mirror
The Golden Age of Chinese Language Cinema

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