November 18, 2014, 4:00 p.m. — China and the Chinese [Part 2] (1917), The Cave of the Silken Web (1927)
The Cave of the Silken Web
1927. China. Directed by Dan Duyu. With Yin Mingzhu, He Rongzhu, Dan Erchun. Virtually all of silent Chinese cinema is believed lost because of neglect, deterioration, or outright destruction, so the recent discovery of a nitrate 35mm print of Pan si Dong in the archives of the National Library of Norway is cause for joy. Based on a climactic moment in Wu Cheng'en’s classic Ming Dynasty fable Journey to the West, the film was one of the most ambitious of its time; directed by Dan Duyu, a successful portrait painter who in 1920 created China’s second movie studio, Shanghai Photoplay Company, it stars his wife, the sensational actress Yin Mingzhu, as a femme fatale. Pan si Dong follows a Buddhist monk and his three guardian disciples, Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy, on a perilous odyssey across the west—and into India—in search of sacred scriptures. Their quest is fraught with danger and temptation, bringing demons, evil spirits, and flesh-eating spider women. Preserved by the National Library of Norway. Chinese and Norwegian intertitles; English subtitles. 60 min.