The Ninth Gate (1999)

The Ninth Gate (1999)
  • Time: 133 min
  • Genre: Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Roman Polanski
  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Emmanuelle Seigner, Lena Olin


Dean Corso, a rare book dealer, is appointed by a renowned book collector, Balkan, to verify the authenticity of one of his books. According to sources, only three copies of that book exist, and in three different places. After losing his friend who has been killed for that book, he leaves on the mission. He wants to verify Balkan’s book but finds something else! During his dramatic travels through Paris and Madrid, too many things beyond his expectations are revealed!

One comment

  • This is a competent semi-horror film directed by Roman Polanski in 2000. It stars Johnny Depp as Dean Corso, our hero, and Frank Langella as Boris Balkan, our villain. Lena Olin and Emmanuelle Seigner (wife of Polanski) are our sex interests.

    “The Ninth Gate” is in the same genre as “The Omen” and “The Exorcist” – adult horror films based on some involvement or other with the devil and having adults who refuse to accept the existence of such a beast. Polanski does it better, though. In “The Ninth Gate” the issue isn’t whether the devil is real and what we’re seeing is attributable to Satan and his minions. The issue, on the surface, is whether one particular book is a genuine 17th Century work. There are two other extant copies, and Corso is hired by Balkan to look at the other two and compare the works. Corso is told that if he determines that any one of the three is real and if Balkan’s copy is a forgery, Corso is to acquire the real copy at any price.

    We follow Corso as he goes to Europe and meets with the owners of the two other copies. Things go horribly wrong even before he leaves New York, and if we’re paying attention, we realize that the horrible events mirror the engraved images in the mystery book, which is about Satan. Accidents befall Corso and the owners of the other two copies, again suggesting the graven images. Rather than making Corso dumb and ignoring the obvious hints as do the characters in “The Omen” and “The Exorcist,” Corso picks up on what’s going on and begins to search not just for the other copies but for the underlying reason for the events unfolding before him. Ultimately, the true search has nothing to do with the physical copies of the book but with the metaphysical truths which may be shown in the engravings.

    Although the movie has no great themes nor depths of characters, Polanski and Depp keep it moving and keep our interest piqued as Corso parses his way through the variations among the three copies, deducing why the differences exist and why they’re spread among the three books. Polanski keeps us in the dark about the identity of the character played by Seigner, so you’re on your own in determining who she really is. “The Ninth Gate” is not a great movie, but, to mix my metaphors since the movie is about books, it’s a real page turner.

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