Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Ninth Gate (1999)

The Ninth Gate is based on Spanish novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, although in the movie all reference to Alexandre Dumas has been removed. Directed by Roman Polanski, this is one of must-see movies. Johnny Depp plays Corso, a book dealer, or a rare-book hunter. In the beginning of the movie, we are shown that Corso will not hesitate to do dirty tricks to make as much profit as possible. It's a very good scene: Corso offers a sum of money for 4 volumes of Don Quiotte to an heir who doesn't know the true value of those books. She is very happy to receive the money. Obviously the price offered is much higher than she has expected. Meanwhile, we see the owner of the book, who suffers a stroke and cannot move or speak, is silently furious.

Corso is hired by Balkan, a book collector, to authenticate his rare book "The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows". There are only 3 copies left, but as Balkan believes the book can summon the devil, and he cannot summon the devil with his, he thinks perhaps his copy is fake. Corso must compare his book with the other two and find which one is the original. In his quest, Corso finds that the words in the 3 books are the same, but of the 9 pictures/drawings, only 3 are original. To collect all 9 original pictures drawn by Lucifer, one must have all 3 books.

Who would think that being a book hunter can be dangerous, eh? Corso's friend is murdered and he himself is almost killed several times. It's only a book! I myself love reading, but for me the 1st or 50th edition is the same. I only need to read the words in the book and don't bother with the binding, paper, etc.

The Ninth Gate was marketed as a horror movie, so a friend of mine refused to watch this. I told him this was actually a thriller and that was no ghost in it. As much as he liked Johnny Depp, he still refused. Emmanuelle Seigner does look scary sometimes, but I always turn my face away every time she stares into the screen and tries to break the 4th wall. The scariest moment, in my opinion, is when the dead face of Baroness Kessler shown in a close-up. The original page of the 9th picture also makes me shivered. The burning castle picture is very shocking.

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