The Cave of the Silken Web

Film Screening with the participation of the Silk Road Ensemble

August 24, 2016

Cheng-Sim Lim, Chief Curator, Dunhuang Projected and China Onscreen Initiatives, UCLA Confucius Institute
Tina Anckerman, Film Archivist, National Library of Norway

B&W with tinted scenes
Chinese and Norwegian intertitles (simultaneous English-language translation)
Live musical accompaniment
Running time, 60 minutes

In 1927, Chinese film pioneer Dan Duyu made what is believed to be the first screen adaptation of one of the most enduring classics of Chinese literature, Journey to the West. On their journey to India to procure Buddhist scriptures, pious monk Xuanzang and his three disciples Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy are under constant threat from demons and malicious spirits. In this adaptation they are besieged by spider demons disguised as beautiful maidens. Besides the special effects-aided supernatural feats, Chinese silent star (and Dan's wife) Yin Mingzhu lends a beguiling modernity as the spider queen.

Dan's The Cave of the Silken Web, once thought lost, was rediscovered in 2011 and preserved by the National Library of Norway. This rare cinematic treasure had its Los Angeles premiere in a special outdoor event at the Getty Center that included the Silk Road Ensemble performing original music alongside a screening of this silent film classic.

UCLA Confucius Institute

Presented in collaboration with the UCLA Confucius Institute.

This screening was made possible by the generous support of Li Lu and Eva Zhao, the Li Lu Humanitarian Foundation with additional support from Jim and Anne Rothenberg for the performance of the Silk Road Ensemble.

This screening complements the exhibition Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China's Silk Road.