Norway sends to China classic film about spider spirits thought to be lost

A still from the 1927 Chinese silent movie The Cave Of The Silken Web. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
A still from the 1927 Chinese silent movie The Cave Of The Silken Web. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

OSLO (AFP) - 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 on 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 by Journey To The West, the classic Chinese novel by Wu Cheng'en, 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." The Chinese authorities put on hold all high level bilateral contacts with their Norwegian counterparts after the Scandinavian country awarded Liu, considered a criminal by China, the Nobel Peace Prize.