14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Chocolate Pleasure
The Ninth Gate seems to generate differences of view depending on whether or not you read the underlying novel. I enjoyed both but I would recommend any readers about to become watchers to regard this as a different story from the novel. The film is a strange mixture of fantasy, horror and a thriller. It has a core puzzle to crack (and it's a good one) and lots of good...
Published on 27 Jun 2009 by Charles Vasey
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better on a second viewing - but not Polanski at his best
Some films are the victims of audience expectations, and that's certainly true of The Ninth Gate, which saw Roman Polanski apparently return to the horror genre but with very different results and tone to Rosemary's Baby in a film that left horror fans and admirers of its source novel alike feeling shortchanged. Based on Arturo Peréz-Reverte's The Dumas Club, but...
Published on 16 Feb 2011 by Trevor Willsmer
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better on a second viewing - but not Polanski at his best,
But rather than playing it all as a po-faced horror movie, Polanski chooses a more slyly mischievous and playful tone, its Satanic double-dealings more the stuff of black comedy than a black mass. Certainly it's hard to take many of the details seriously: these books are worth millions of pounds, yet no-one wears gloves to handle them, people casually flick through the pages with a drink or a cigarette in hand, even pressing down the spine to read them, ensuring that the only truly horrified members of the audience are obsessive bibliophiles. Unfortunately if you won't be scared, you're also unlikely to be thrilled as it winds down from the mildly quirky into the increasingly routine and it's let down badly, as are pretty much all let's-go-to-Hell movies, by the is-that-all? ending, which leaves you wondering if this journey down the left handed path was really necessary. Still, there's a delightful cameo from Jose Lopez Rodero, the film's production manager and the assistant director of many shot-in-Spain epics such as El Cid, King of Kings, Papillon and Patton, as eccentric twin Spanish book dealers (one dubbed by Polanski himself) and a couple of workmen, and there are a few nice little bits of business along the way that help mitigate the inevitable first-time disappointment on a second viewing.
The DVD extras are a lot less impressive than they sound, though: a very short trailer, a two-minute featurette, a gallery of the satanic engravings and a not terribly interesting commentary from Polanski, though Wojciech Kilar's fine score, mixing the portentous dread of his work for Bram Stoker's Dracula with a wry comic theme, gets an isolated track of its own.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark Chocolate Pleasure,
Frank Langella's voice is, once again, dipped in dark chocolate.
84 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly misunderstood masterpiece,
This review is from: LA NEUVIEME PORTE - MOVIE [DVD]  (DVD)I have never written a review before and doubt I will again, but there is so much misunderstanding about this masterpiece that I feel compelled to add my praise and insights.
This is the only film I have ever seen that rivals the complexity of a classic novel.
When first I saw it I was, like most people, rather confused - especially by the ending. It seemed a terrible anticlimax. However my respect for both Depp's choice of script and Polanski as a great film maker left me uneasy in my disappointment; I felt it was far more likely that it was my interpretation and understanding rather than their portrayal that was found wanting. I also had a gnawing sense of having missed something subtle but vitally important. I mulled over the film for a couple of days and slowly started to understand. I then went back and watched it again; the second viewing seemed to confirm my gradual revelation. I watched it again, pad and pen in hand taking notes, much as I did working through the various texts of my University literature days. It became clear.
The end is not vague, it is not an anti-climax at all; it is in fact a great achievement. Rarely in the best literature one encounters a sudden twist or change or revelation that forces one to reinterpret everything in the novel to that point; this is the best example of this that I have seen on film.
Not to give it away, but the film seems to portray a pursuit to obtain knowledge of the occult steps that lead to passage through the Ninth Gate and the immortality which that entails. When Depp's character finally acquires this knowledge, we expect to watch him fulfil the steps one by one until this passage to immortality is achieved. But in an apparent and disjointed anticlimax Depp is suddenly shown passing through the Ninth Gate. It is then that we must reinterpret the entire film in this light.
It is only on reflection that we understand that the film has not been a pursuit at all; we realise, simultaneously with Depp's character, that in his pursuit of the nine steps he has actually fulfilled them all bar one. The guardian demon that has accompanied him through his pursuit has actually been guiding him to fulfil the very requirements that he seeks knowledge of. When he obtains this knowledge he realises that his own journey has already taken him down the path to the entrance of the Ninth Gate itself; he is already there and done what is required to enter.
In this respect the film is one of those rare media experiences that becomes a true journey, a truer rendition of Heart of Darkness than is Apocalypse Now. And the subtlety and apparent ambiguity that many find detracting and confusing is actually integral and instrumental to this achievement.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever and original adaptation of a great book,
To begin, one precision - this is the adaptation of a great novel, "Club Dumas" by the Spanish author Arturo Perez Reverte. The book is amazing but very, very hard to adapt to the screen - so Polanski had to make many changes. As the result, you can now watch a great movie and read a great book, in whatever order you like, without being disappointed by one of them.
This movie is about ancient books, people who collect them and people who live by trading them - and it is an amazing thing how passionate this world is. It is a great achievement of Polanski that he managed to keep a very honest pace of events, when placing the action mostly in librairies, bookshops etc. The gallery of persons shown in this movie is, typically for Polanski, made of characters mostly excentrical, frequently upsetting, sometimes very funny, but never, not even once, boring.
This is in large part one Johnny Depp show, and this is a great show. His character (Dean Corso, trader in ancient books) is in this movie slightly less antipatic than in the novel, but clearly he is not a totally nice guy. The way Johnny Depp acts in this movie confirms the impression I had for many years now - he is not only handsome, he is simply one of the greatest actors alive (and doesn't even need dreadlocks and gold teeth to prove it).
Emmanuelle Seigner plays a character that is totally ambigous (she is just The Girl - we never know what is her name) and I will not reveal anything more about her. She is beautiful, mysterious, tempting but distant and she certainly is leading the main hero somewhere. But we do not know where - until the last image. Lena Olin (Liana Telfer) and Frank Langella (Boris Balkan) are other stars of the show - they are supporting characters and appear less on the screen, but they are both very important.
However the real "hero" of this movie could only be... a book. This book is called - what else - "The Nine Gates" and was written by a heretic alchimist around year 1515. The Inquisition then burned the author with all the copies which was possible to find - and the further we advance in the movie, the most we realise, that for once, for this one time, the Inquisition could very well have done the right thing! You desserve to discover the rest of the story by yourself.
This is an amazing movie. Reading some of the previews below I couldn't understand how you can be bored by it? Thanks to Polanski's unique touch there is more atmosphere in every scene of "Ninth Gate" that we actually can take in. There is a pair of extremely handsome and talented actors. There is the discreet but beautiful musical score by Wojciech Kilar. There is a deep and very very dangerous mystery. There is an almost sadistic, totally unsuspected twist towards the end. And there is finally, well hidden in the shadows, one writer, who really doesn't need an agent to take care of his career...
Watch this film! It is worth it!
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, disturbing film.,
This review is from: Ninth Gate [Blu-ray]  [US Import] (Blu-ray)This is a realy entertaining, classy and quietly disturbing movie with excellent, unpredictable and theatricaly eccentric performances which also have depth and imagination. Superbly scripted, lit, framed and shot, this is one of Polanski's best having both emotional punch and quirky humour in a fine balance. Johnny Depp leads an excellent cast which also includes Frank Langella (restrained, chillingly enigmatic and superb). I found the film totally gripping and somewhat hypnotic (even the music soundtrack has a mesmeric quality). On Blu-Ray this film has a depth of field and detail that elevates the enjoyment and involvement.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and good to look at.,
From my perspective (and even though I was not aware of this aspect of Roman Polanski's movies, until very recently), I repeatedly watch his movies, when I would seldom re-watch Hollywood blockbusters.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect balance between the occult and psychological thriller,
After witnessing a number of alarming crimes, he single-mindedly pursues his task (for which he is handsomely paid) and blithely ignores the destruction and murderous detritus as if walking though an obstacle course. Along the way, he keeps running into a mysterious and very beautiful woman, who seems to be protecting him, yet also playfully mocking him before disappearing only to reappear in dangerous moments. Looking not quite human yet vulnerable to injury, she seems to enjoy the evolution of Depp's character in a violent, unpredictable direction. There is a frightening scene where she annoints him with her blood. And the book: the more he discovers, the deeper he gets in becoming almost a direct participant in the antique illustrations in the book, which he scrutinizes as more manuscripts come to light. Depp's character emerges as something more than he appeared to be, though entirely lacking in simple definition. It is truly masterful.
The most beautiful aspect of the film is the sense - the feeling - of ominous mystery that pervades it. In other words, there are many clues that must be interpreted, and the viewer never reaches the point of saying, "oh, I get it", which in lesser films is followed by "that's it?" I found this delightfully fascinating and evocative, particularly as much of it takes place in a region similar to the one I currently live in in France. Typical of Polanski, this elevates the film to a higher art than other occult films, much as Rosemary's Baby did. The mood of the film is completely consistent and demands (and deserves) the viewer's full attention.
Warmly recommended. It is one of the best films I have seen in some time.
2.0 out of 5 stars A bad movie,
4.0 out of 5 stars Much more than meets the eye,
And that's point 2: our daily actions, driven by what we truly believe deep down and not by what we profess to believe, are much more likely to evoke both good and evil. Going to church won't do any good at all if for the rest of the week one's deeds are selfish and mean. Likewise, being greedy like Corso, believing in nothing but profit and gain, and "stooping to anything", is much more likely to bring us closer to the prince of darkness. People don't even realise this as they go through life. In this regard, a phrase spoken by the girl is very enlightening: while Corso is killing the black man with his shoe, she says: "I didn't know you had it in you". Yes, that's right: Corso wasn't even aware of the evil he embodied and thus had in him. "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis sheds much light on this topic for those who wish to further delve into it.
In my opinion, the deliberately slow pace of the movie adds to its "book-like" appeal by allowing us to savour each moment and scene, just like readers savour words in books. The movie's admittedly imperfect details (the way an antique book is carelessly handled, for example) aren't as relevant as the message per se. Movies aren't meant to be 100% accurate in every detail: those are documentaries. And speaking of the movie's overall quality, I think "The Ninth Gate" is simply superb, almost perfect in every respect and quite balanced considering the topic.
Ultimately, the movie is about Corso and the unexpected self-discovery journey he unwittingly embarks on because of the book. Those who are let down by the seemingly anticlimactic ending have failed to grasp the fact that Corso's journey into hell IS the movie's true climax. All things considered, the ending is the fitting culmination of such a journey and couldn't have been better. Anybody expecting "more" or "better" was either looking for a sci-fi or a horror movie, which this isn't.
In conclusion, a couple of interesting details: when Balkan and Corso take the lift down to Balkan's private collection, the combination he punches is "666". This is the same combination Balkan uses to open his collection's door. Unlike what Corso tells the girl on the train on his way to Portugal, in Italian Corso doesn't mean "run". The right word would be "corsa".
4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing film,
What makes this film so watchable is the languorous atmosphere that permeates throughout. Everything is familiar, superficially safe yet vaguely threatening. Something is always around the corner but you never quite get to see or understand what it is. You wait for a big jump moment but it never comes. It’s enough to keep most viewers glued to the end but then leaves them asking “was that it?”
A film for those who enjoy the journey rather than the destination, if you know what I mean.
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Ninth Gate [Blu-ray]  [US Import] by Roman Polanski (Blu-ray - 2009)
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