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Movie review: The Ninth Gate

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Review by Duryea Edwards

The dark and foreboding advertisements had lead me to wrongly believe that The Ninth Gate was going to be something of a “Horror Thriller” and I wasn’t really interested in seeing that type of movie. A friend sort of twisted my arm and got me to go and after the first 20 to 30 minutes I was pleased to discover that what I was actually seeing was a juicy little suspense mystery with supernatural undercurrents. So I adjusted my train of thought and allowed myself to enjoy it as it unfolded.

I think that most of the critics who have panned the movie have done this because it is not living up to their expectations. In my opinion, the fault for this sits squarely in the lap of the distribution company’s marketing department. They are aware of the fact that horror will generally sell so this is what they are trying to pass it off as. In doing this, they are chasing away the segment of the audience that would love a good mystery and ripping off the people who are looking for a well made horror film.

The detective in this mystery is a man, of somewhat gray principles, by the name of Corso (Johnny Depp) who is a dealer in rare collectibles. Corso is hired by a Mr. Balkan (Frank Langella) to research the nature of a book called “The Ninth Gate” which is very old and was once suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church. Only three copies of the book are known to exist.

Balkan has recently purchased one of the copies of “The Ninth Gate” and he wants Corso to compare his copy against the other two. Balkan states that he has reason to believe that only one of the books is genuine and that the other two are either very good forgeries of an original or outright fakes which may contain seriously erroneous information. Balkan says that he wants to make sure that he winds up owning the only genuine copy and he is willing to pay any price necessary to bring this about.

The previous owner of Balkan’s book was rumored to be a member of a group of “True Believers” who worship a deity which they call “Blessed Master”. It is their assertion that this book is his holy message to them. The text of the book is said to contain his plan for bringing them ultimate power.

The book was banned by the Catholic Church several centuries ago because its leaders believed that this “Blessed Master” is nothing more than a thinly veiled incarnation of the Devil. The author was executed and every copy that could be located was burned.

Corso must tread on thin ice as he attempts to locate the other two copies and compare them to the one in his possession. Although it is no longer “illegal” to own them, there are individuals and groups which would destroy the books and possibly cause harm to the owners if they had the chance.

The Ninth Gate is a well made examination of religious superstition on both sides of the fence. Those who seek to stamp out what they see as evil are clashing with those who wish to achieve power through supernatural means while Corso is merely attempting to discover a few simple truths …

  • What is real?
  • What is a fake?
  • Who can be trusted?

I sincerely recommend this motion picture. I do wish to add that is should not be seen by young people unless a well educated adult is there to discuss it with them.

A Second Opinion

Review by Terri Barger

I also enjoyed The Ninth Gate, but was a little disappointed. I read The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez (the book the movie is based on) last year. All the changes that were made to fit a very complex plot into a two hour movie were reasonable, but, I think, took away a good bit of the suspense and some of the sense of discovery as you follow the main character toward his revelations. It was still entertaining, well acted, and the setting was fabulous.