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The Ninth Gate
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Ninth Gate More at IMDbPro »

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359 out of 449 people found the following review useful:

A Great Film - Highly Underrated

10/10
Author: Dracenstein from Calgary, Canada
31 July 2003

The Ninth Gate is a great film and one of Roman Polanski's most underrated films. Twenty years from now people will give this film the respect it deserves and hail it to be the great film that it is.

Fist of all The Ninth Gate is not an action film. It's a slow-paced psychological thriller very similar in tone and style to Polanski's earlier films Chinatown and Frantic. Johnny Depp and Frank Langella both give great performances. Darius Khondji's photography is amazing and it has an even more amazing score by Kilar. The majority of the film was shot on location and is like a guided tour through Europe.

Ignore the negative reviews and comments from people who've been brainwashed and blinded by the current Hollywood fast-food style of film making with the intention of only appealing to the lowest common denominator. A review doesn't make a good film better or a bad film worse. A superb film. Rating 10 out of 10.

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206 out of 220 people found the following review useful:

The secret is in plain view

Author: diana-51 from Brooklyn, New York
10 April 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A SPOILER

I was inspired to write this, my first film commentary ever, when I was reading through those already posted. It struck me that nobody seemed to have got who "the girl" (played by Polanski's wife Emmanuelle Seigner) is! Everybody who mentions her -- and most do -- say she's in the film for no reason, she keeps appearing and disappearing to no effect, she's never explained, and that the film would've been much better if Polanski had only left her on the cutting room floor.

I hope Polanski is getting a kick out of this: the fact that nobody has got the secret of this, his most recent (and I think brilliant) film. I hope he's reached the point in his life and career where he cares more about making the art he had in mind than he does about whether people are getting it.

Darlings, "the girl" IS Lucifer!! It's right out there in plain view. And this is the beautiful irony of this movie: that s(he) IS right out there in plain view, to all these people who are seeking her, and doing all this stuff to summon her, and she's right there -- which is one of the oft-told truths about gods and deities throughout time, that they're right there, right next door to you, and you don't even notice them. This is the truth (one of them) that Polanski is putting on screen here. Witness the scene in the St. Martin Chateau where "the girl" crosses paths with Mrs. Telfer; look at the expression on the girl's face; it is ironic and absolutely amused. And there are more "clues" -- many more.

The girl is the only person in the film with actual supernatural powers. She floats. She is always around whenever Lucifer is being discussed. Although she repeatedly rescues Corso, she has anything but an angelic face. Her beautiful face has a subtext of evil and corruption. She anoints Corso with her blood in an arcane symbol on his forehead! And -- the giveaway -- when she finally has sex with him, didn't you notice that her eyes turn into demon eyes? that she morphs into a devil?

This is really a love story. It is about Lucifer finding a mate -- the person s(he) will accept to enter through the Ninth Gate into his/her kingdom. You can see how "the girl" is evaluating all the candidates throughout the film and how s(he) decides on Corso who is, after all, corrupt from the very beginning and therefore a likely candidate. Witness the scene when Corso is beating Pablo to death, pounding him repeatedly on the face. "The girl" says "Well, Mr. Corso, I didn't know you had it in you." She is obviously pleased with him; she is choosing her mate!!!! The reason she keeps rescuing him is because he is the one she's seriously considering.

Watch the film again. See if I'm not right.

Anyway, what probably has Polanski laughing is the fact that he managed to disguise all this so brilliantly simply by making Lucifer a girl. He's probably a bit surprised by how completely this simple gender-switch had the audience totally fooled! If "the girl" had been "the boy" -- an equally beautiful young man who follows Corso throughout the film -- I'm sure half the audience would've gotten it. But nobody, still, can imagine that the mythic figure of the devil could be female. But of course! The gods are androgynous; they have to be!

And Polanski adds yet another layer of irony and humor by dressing "the girl" as a student with different color socks: the most innocent, innocuous, universal and asexual dress imaginable. Put yourself in Lucifer's shoes. Isn't this how you'd disguise yourself, if you were making a visit to earth? Obviously it is because, if the people who saw this movie are any sample, nobody would suspect.

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228 out of 317 people found the following review useful:

It keeps getting better...

10/10
Author: pickpock (pickpock1@hotmail.com) from Husum, Sweden
9 June 2004

What I like most about this movie, is that there are new things to be amazed by everytime one sees it. The first time I watch it, I was captivated by the music ( and Johnny Depp, gotta love him...) I also really liked the story and most of the actors' performances. The second time I watched it I started to pick up on the details, like the engravings, the real purpose of the mystery woman and the excellent work on the scenery and lightning. Now, I think I have watched it maybe 7 or 8 times, and it keeps getting better and better. This film is really has a life of it's on, and a life filled with passion, that is. It really has it's dark moments as well as uplifting ones. Everyone should see this movie. Unfortunately, I don't think everyone can't or won't take the time to just sit down and appreciate it. This isn't an action movie, the latest Hollywood production or one of those romantic comedies "everybody" love. Sometimes it's kinda slow, but that's part of it's charm. Great things doesn't have to be rushed, filled with explosions and have naked women running around with their breast flip-flopping all over the scene. This is, one brilliant film and those who doesn't agree just can't understand it.

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245 out of 352 people found the following review useful:

Great, but not for everyone...

10/10
Author: BUTCHER-5 from Poland
7 February 2000

After watching this brilliant masterpiece I came to the conclusion that Roman Polanski is one of the best directors in the history of the cinema. The people, who claim that "Ninth Gate" sucks probably don't know or don't understand his movies. You don't need tons of computer-generated special effects to make a good movie. "Ninth Gate" is so creatively made in every technical sense that it will stay in your mind forever. Wonderful music by Wojciech Kilar, outstanding sets(especially the castle at the end), nice cast, neat cinematography. OK,just go and enjoy this treasure.

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128 out of 161 people found the following review useful:

Its all about the images!

Author: tedg (tedg@filmsfolded.com) from Virginia Beach
31 March 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is not a thriller, and that’s a good thing. Instead, this is an intellectual film about the relationship between the viewer and the filmmaker. Anyone who knows Polanski, and for that matter many of our best filmmakers, knows he wonders about what it means to make a real movie, one that works as art. Which is to say it does more than amaze and entertain.

This movie is to Polanski as “The Name of the Rose” was to Umberto Eco. That was a book about what books aren’t. This is a movie about what movies aren’t.

Caution, spoilers ahead!

The story is frail -- that’s the point, in fact a little too obvious for my taste. The book in question has been poured over for over 300 years, with everyone focused on the text. And that text is completely irrelevant, disposable, just as the story of the film is. The whole point of the film is in its images, the story is deliberately degraded to make the point. (The images are great: Polanksi working in partnership with LCR?)

It’s all about abstraction. How could viewers not catch the layers of the inferno/hosts of angels references?

--at the bottom level, you have the Frenchman who owns the book but isn't interested except for the beauty of the binding

--then you have the Baroness who has spent her life writing about the devil and never even considering the pictures, even though she had the best clue--she SAW him.

--at a higher level, you have Liana Tefler, who knows there’s some power in the artifact but is still focused on the text (and incidentally sex)

--higher still you have Balkan who knows the text is worthless, and the pictures the real value but thinks the magic is in the pictures

--then you have the two brothers who have the power to tinker with the power of the pictures

--finally Corso who we see moving from the bottom of the list to this layer where he knows the power is not in the pictures themselves, but in the quest. (At the beginning, the value of the book to him is neither in its text, nor pictures, but in its binding and rarity.)

--then we have “the girl” who IS the pictures

--and we have the viewer.

This is a cross, four people stacked, the two brothers and then three more people stacked -- A layering actually used in early 17th century tracts on the nature of abstraction, which in retrospect are called occult. In fact it is the same layering of semiotics outlined by Eco, and much earlier used in the apprentice novels of Goethe (including Faust, which this story quotes).

That’s nine players, eight levels of consciousness created by the filmmaker, each layer tossing aside something. Who is the ninth player, the final abstractionist? You.

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127 out of 166 people found the following review useful:

See this one more than once

10/10
Author: BonesawLtd from Denver, Colorado
7 December 2003

I just got finished reading some of the other threads that discuss this movie. They ranged from the angst ridden youth spouting off about how there was no action, to those who truly loved this movie. I know that this movie is practically 5 years old, but this is one of my favorite movies of all time. I am an avid horror fan. I love everything from slasher movies to the silent films from the 1920's. I admit, when I saw this movie in the theater, I was very disappointed. I think I was expecting some whiz-bang battle with the devil at the end, and for those of you who've seen this flick you know that this is not how it ends. Now, almost 5 years later, I own and watch this film very frequently. Now that I have seen this movie numerous times, I can appreciate the creepy atmosphere and the deep storyline. I have even said to myself "How could they have ended this movie differently in a way that I would be completely satisfied (other than the way they did)?" I couldn't answer that question. For those who have only seen this once, take the time to watch it again with different expectations. I know that there are some who will never like this movie, To each his/her own, but I am very glad that I took the time to see this one again because as it stands now, it will have a locked spot in my top 10.

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81 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

What Corso represents (a theory about the last engraving)

10/10
Author: mnjacks from United States
26 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is not so much a movie review (those are done well elsewhere), but a theory about the ending of the movie and who Corso really represents.

SPOILER ALERT**** I too have enjoyed reading the posts and have come up with something that I just wanted to throw out there. Corso is a biblical figure--he is the serpent in the ninth engraving. After all Corso experiences each of the engravings on his quest, so logically he would have to experience the ninth engraving as well. Since the woman in the ninth engraving is "The Girl"--who presumably is the Whore of Bablyon (a case will be made later on that the whore=Lucifer), the only person that Corso could be is the beast---which is a subtle but powerful point of the film/book.

The beast in the engraving has 7 heads which could conceivably represent the seven deadly sins--(i) pride (ii) envy (iii) gluttony (iv) lust (v) wrath (vi) greed (vii) sloth--throughout the film Corso commits each one of these sins, but it is done gradually. The point being that while everyone is on the lookout for a "beast" or other terrible creature it could actually just be humanity falling victim to the sins. When Corso kills the man in the cellar the girl exclaims "I didn't think you had it in you." This is what sealed his fate as her chosen one.

Just like "The girl" Polanski puts Corso right out there in front of everyone to see, but we tend to ignore him and focus on the evils committed by Boris and Liana. But those people are not who the devil is interested in, the devil wants people who are consistent and gradual with their sinning. Corso is perfect as this "everyman." Incidentally this is why I think "The Girl" represents Lucifer, because she is out there for everyone to see. All the idiots are busy trying to summon the Devil but she is right there for everyone to see. (refer to diana 51's post somewhere here for more on this, she does a great job as do many others). Just like people are always looking for the sign of the beast or his return--and tend to lose the forest from the trees (i.e. their own sins) Incidentally the "whore of Babylon" symbolism is apt because, just as a whore is a servant, she can become a master. just like the girl in the movie--she "served" Corso at many points but she also made it clear who was boss (i.e. when she twisted his arm after he grabbed her in the hotel lobby and when she held him back from saving Liana from Boris).

More generally Whores are there to offer immediate gratification, but many men have fallen victim to manipulation and have ruined their lives in pursuit of a whore. (This argument is not meant to limit whore to just male/female, a whore presumably offers immediate gratification, thus it is more beneficial to think of a whore as anyone who offers the quick fix--which is the Devil for all intents and purposes). However in order to obtain that quick fix how many of the seven deadly sins must a person commit?Chances are that a few transgressions would normally be in order.

The reason that "The girl"/Lucifer picks Corso out of all the other evil people is because he doesn't commit the sins all at once for the quick fix. He starts out his quest purely for greed, and a long the way commits each sin as he sees fit or just for the hell of it (i.e. sleeping with Liana even though he had no intention of giving her the book; accepting another "zero" to the paycheck even though a friend of his was killed; not caring about getting paid by Boris at the end--he wants the engravings). Finally when he realizes the power that is at stake he is willing to make the ultimate jump to wrath (first he kills the guy in the cellar and then he kills Balkan when on fire). BUT both times he didn't need to kill those people, he could have left Liana's helper knocked out and he could have let Boris burn to death, but he just wanted to kill them out of anger (contrast this to Boris who killed for the pages in the book--and killed Liana so that she would stop bothering him). Gradual decent into evil and darkness is what endeared Corso to Lucifer/"The Girl" and that is why he came to Corso in the form of a woman and helped him along his path. Ultimately you become one with the devil when you commit all seven deadly sins because that is the power that humans have--to choose between good and evil. That is symbolized by the ninth engraving with the woman "riding" the seven deadly sins--and thus unlocking the gate into the Kingdom of Shadows.

(Because the word limit is set at a 1000 for comments, this post is not able to discuss some other interesting points that are brought up by others. There are some who believe that Corso is not evil at all, or rather that he has no choice in his path (i.e. he attempted to save Liana and he shot Boris out of compassion). I attempt to give my take on that in a post located at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0142688/board/nest/41792586 (May 4, 2006 @ 11:04), but it's meant to be a complement to this post). Please forgive any repetitions. The variation in interpretations of this movie only reinforce the fact that it is a unique cinematic gem.

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93 out of 119 people found the following review useful:

Proves You Don't Need A Ton Of Action To Make A Good Thriller

9/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
9 November 2006

What makes this movie rather unique in this day-and-age is to see a horror- occult movie that has very little action. That may turn off a lot of modern-day viewers and critics but I thought it was refreshing.....as long as the story could still keep one's attention, which it did. It also did it with a pretty long movie: 133 minutes. I have played this movie several times for friends and no one has gotten bored.

The attraction is (1) decent acting; (2) some great sets; (3) an involving story; (4) interesting characters and (5) low profanity.

What keeps most viewers interested is simply wondering what is going to happen next in "Dean Corso's" (Johnny Depp) quest to figure out the hidden message. Without giving anything away, this is a classy, solid thriller.....and more importantly, fun to watch.

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91 out of 127 people found the following review useful:

Near Perfect Gothic Mystery

9/10
Author: Brian Bagnall from Canada
30 December 2004

Johnny Depp is perfect as an acerbic, bookish, cynical, morally corrupt book dealer. There is a great cast of occultist characters who are way over the top and enjoyable all the way. Frank Langella as a giant, power hungry cult leader and Lena Olin as an evil she-devil woman are superb. The script is perfect, and every line has meaning and resonance. The director does a good job at allowing the viewer to experience the mystery contained in those old books first-hand. I think the filmmaker had a vision, didn't compromise and made the exact film he wanted to make. It is a mature, ugly, interesting film with a lot of class but it probably won't be enjoyed by a lot of people out there.

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86 out of 125 people found the following review useful:

Best Polanski in years...

10/10
Author: Adam Frisch from London, England
29 November 1999

Granted, I'm slightly biased since I happen to love Mr. Polanski's work, but this film was really good. It kind of built in a slow, very menacing way and had an intelligent plot, only fully concluded until you're out of the cinema. As usual with the demanding master, the performances are first class, specially Langella and Depp. Here comes a brief summary of the highlights in my opinion:

Brilliant cinematography by the talented Darius Khondji (of Se7en fame).

The most original title sequence I've seen this side of Bond.

Also listen closely to Wojchiech Kilars (of Dracula fame) absolutely brilliant score. So light, and yet so heavy and menacing. Very un-Hollywood.

It definetly puts Polanski back into the game again. Now if they'd only let him back into the states so we could get

a new Chinatown.....

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