The Ninth Gate is another great movie by Roman Polanski. You get the feeling that this man somehow personally knows the devil. There are a few movies that are not only just about the occult and mysterious shit but the movies themselves are considered to be imbued with a strange vibe. Rosemary’s Baby is one of those movies, also directed by Roman. Argento’s Suspiria is another example and if you want more recent entries check out Ben Wheatley’s Kill List. I would also like to add to that list one of my favorites, Angel Heart starring Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro. However, none of them are about occult books. And just so you know, most of them mentioned here are real books.
The Ninth Gate is not a classical “devil on the earth” movie like End Of Days. Loosely based upon Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s 1993 novel The Club Dumas, it’s more atmospheric and ultimately more plausible. However, in all this satanic haze, it never managed to develop into something more. Now, I love the satanic haze as much as the next guy, but give some pulp Satandammit! The strangest thing about The Ninth Gate is that it can be different things for different people. It can be a gateway to a whole new world of occult books. Or it can seduce you with its gothic atmosphere and point you in a totally different direction. However, it will most definitely engage you and that’s the best thing about it.
Meet Dean Corso, a rare book dealer, and procurer who’s just been hired to do a very tricky job. Wealthy collector Boris Balkan has one out of three existing copies of a very special book and he’s looking to authenticate it. In order to do that, Corso will have to set off on a very dangerous journey. A journey that might not end so well for him…
A skilled director and a big budget allowed this movie to be very interesting without any hype and special effects. The focus is firmly placed on the story. Its biggest problem is the pacing. Polanski hoped that all the mystery surrounding the book will help with this. Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t find the subject interesting because I very much do. Ever since I heard about the Necronomicon and the Egyptian Book of the Dead, I wanted to learn more about this subject. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge, here’s a link to start your exploration of Grimoire. Another thing I liked about this movie was the European setting that gave it that vintage vibe it was missing.
I also have to mention just how good the cast of The Ninth Gate was. It was so nice to see Frank Langella give another compelling performance along with Lena Olin. You might remember her from Romeo is Bleeding. Depp and Seigner were also great. Finally, I recommend you check out our Rabbit Reviews selection of Occult Movies.
Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Arturo Pérez-Reverte, John Brown, Enrique Urbizu
Cast: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner, James Russo
Fun Facts: The bag that Corse uses in this movie is Musette MLE 35. French soldiers wore it during the thirties.