88 of 100 people found the following review helpful
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.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Apr 2010 16:15:33 BDT
Fascinating review, really helpful to add another layer of meaning to this film which has always been a favourite for me at a deeply instinctive level. Thanks!
Posted on 9 Aug 2011 15:18:42 BDT
Please, don't let this be your first and last review. I thank you for this one and hope for more in the future.
Posted on 30 Sep 2011 17:38:47 BDT
Excellent review - thank you for posting. Your heading says it all - notwithstanding it has Depp and Langella in it.
Posted on 15 Aug 2012 14:46:43 BDT
Mr. P. M. Mandell says:
Great review, explanation and of course, cracking film. I hadn't seen the film in that light which makes me want to watch it again.
Glad I didn't read the review before I purchased the dvd though!
Posted on 21 Aug 2013 09:10:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Aug 2013 23:02:44 BDT
A customer says:
An excellent review indeed.
I have watched this film a couple of times on television, and it was on the 5USA film channel on British TV last night. The first one or two times I saw the film I was undecided on what I thought about it, but now I am sure it really is a very good film indeed. Very well directed by Roman Polanski who gets good performances from all the cast, it strikes exactly the right tone of brooding atmosphere, and the theme music that runs through the film is perfect for the film. Apparently the film didn't go down well in the USA, probably because of the film's slow pace, no shoot outs, no car chases, or plethora of CGI special effects. My only slight criticism is Depp's continual smoking.
I think mention should also be made of Barbara Jefford's performance. Barbara, a mature experienced British Shakesperean actress, stepped into the role as a replacement 'Baroness Kessler' literally just days before filming started and I think she was superb.
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