Norway gives China only existing copy of 1927 silent film thought to have been lost

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, April 14, 2014 18:06 EDT
google plus icon
This film-still photo shows a scene from the Chinese silent movie 'The Cave of the Silken Web' from the year 1927 [AFP]
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

Norway will hand to China a copy of The Cave of the Silken Web, a classic Chinese film that had long thought to be lost, the National Library of Norway said Monday.

The delivery of the silent film from 1927 is expected to arrive in Beijing on Tuesday.

Diplomatic relations between both countries have been tense since Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded in 2010 the Nobel Peace Prize, decided by the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

After deciding to go through its stock of around 9,000 old films in 2011, the National Library of Norway found a nitrocellulose copy of Pan si dong — its original Chinese title. It was the first film from the Asian country to be screened in the Scandinavian kingdom.

It seems to be the only existing copy.

The film, inspired in a classic Chinese novel by Wu Cheng’en called Journey to the West, was restored before being sent to the China Film Archive.

In the film, a pilgrim monk entrusted by an emperor to find some sacred Buddhist texts ends up trapped in the Cave of the Seven Spiders, who want to eat his flesh to become immortal.

First screened in Oslo in 1929, the copy found in Norway features subtitles in Chinese and Norwegian.

“The translator took quite a few liberties and added his own comments in brackets when it suited him. This gives the film a comical twist,” said Tina Anckarman, film archivist at the National Library of Norway.

“There are also sequences where the Chinese text is upside down or inverted.”

Chinese authorities put on hold all high level bilateral contacts with their Norwegian counterparts after the Scandinavian country awarded Liu Xiaobo, considered a criminal by China, the Nobel Peace Prize.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.