K icking off the new China Onscreen film sidebar Dunhuang Projected, the Getty Center and UCLA Hammer Museum hosted special screenings in August of the recently-restored classic silent film Cave of the Silken Web.
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 come under constant threat from demons and malicious spirits. In the Cave of the Silken Web, 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.
A rare cinematic treasure
restored and brought to life for
LA audiences for the first time
Once thought lost, Dan’s Cave of the Silken Web was rediscovered in 2011 in Norway and preserved by the National Library. This rare cinematic treasure made its Los Angeles premiere on August 24th at a special outdoor screening at the Getty with live music performed by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. The ensemble, then in residence at the Getty as part of the Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road exhibition, created a film score that combined new and traditional music from diverse Silk Road cultures.
Exactly one week later, the UCLA Hammer Museum gave the film a contemporary LA vibe with a screening in a cave-like lounge space–complete with cash bar–and vibrant electronic-meets-world music score spun led by Arshia Haq of the DJ collective Discostan (via dublab).