The Ninth Gate

Johnny Depp traipses across Europe looking at old books in this slow and hugely old-fashioned supernatural thriller. Sure, in real life rational people are no quicker to blame the Devil for their troubles than they were some 30 years ago, when Polanski made the supremely creepy ROSEMARY'S BABY. But today's audiences become impatient with movie characters...read more

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Johnny Depp traipses across Europe looking at old books in this slow and hugely old-fashioned supernatural thriller. Sure, in real life rational people are no quicker to blame the Devil for their troubles than they were some 30 years ago, when

Polanski made the supremely creepy ROSEMARY'S BABY. But today's audiences become impatient with movie characters who, bedeviled at length by supernatural mayhem, persist in declaring that they don't believe in such mumbo-jumbo. Which brings us to Dean Corso (Johnny Depp), an unprincipled rare book

dealer who's hired by wealthy Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) to investigate a 17th-century tome called The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, which is rumored to contain hidden instructions on conjuring the devil. Only three copies exist, since the rest were burned (along with the author)

some 300 years ago; Balkan owns one, another is in Lisbon and a third in Paris. Balkan claims to believe that only one is authentic, and wants Corso to compare his book with the other two. Complicating matters are black widow Liana Telfer (Lena Olin), who wants to get back Balkan's copy of the

book at any cost; a scruffy, enigmatic blond (Emmanuelle Seignier, looking alarmingly haggard) who keeps turning up mysteriously; and the fact that everyone Corso talks to about the book seems to wind up dead. Polanski is a stylish and thoughtful filmmaker, working from a well-considered novel,

Arturo Perez Reverte's El Club Dumas; Darius Khondji's cinematography is handsome and the score, by Wojciech Kilar, is unexpectedly witty. But what a tedious film, predicated on the silly notion of Satan himself taking a break from his sulfurous pursuits to scrawl cryptic pictures! Steeped

as it is in bibliophiliac concerns, this tale may well weave a more compelling spell on the page; onscreen it's simply ponderous.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Johnny Depp traipses across Europe looking at old books in this slow and hugely old-fashioned supernatural thriller. Sure, in real life rational people are no quicker to blame the Devil for their troubles than they were some 30 years ago, when Polanski ma… (more)

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