THE NINTH GATE
About The Production
An infamous seventeenth-century satanic manual transforms a mercenary
hireling into a dark knight on a supernatural quest in The Ninth Gate, a
devilishly chilling contemporary thriller by renowned filmmaker Roman Polanski.
Polanski's sixteenth feature as director, The Ninth Gate stars the
gifted Johnny Depp as a smooth-talking rare-book expert unexpectedly confronted
with the ultimate temptation. Subtly conveying his character's growing
obsession, Depp created an intriguing portrait of an unsentimental,
self-possessed loner who is animated by the discovery of forces more powerful
than he ever imagined.
The Ninth Gate is a wonderful cinematic experience that takes its
audience to spectacular locations in Spain, Portugal and France and introduces a
richly imagined gallery of unique and unusual characters. A sophisticated
Faustian tale, the film follows its bibliophile anti-hero as he encounters
diabolical emissaries, aristocratic collectors, and seductive women in his
dogged investigation of a tantalizing riddle. Suspenseful, atmospheric,
frightening, sexy, and witty, The Ninth Gate is a film that could only
come from Roman Polanski, one of the artform's true masters.
The Ninth Gate is Polanski's first film since the release of
1994's acclaimed psychological hostage drama Death and the Maiden,
which starred Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kinsgley. Polanski was looking to follow
up that intense film with something different in tone, and he found that in
Arturo PĂ©rez-Reverte's 1993 bestseller El Club Dumas (published in the
U.S. in 1996). The tale followed an unscrupulous book dealer hunting down a
demonic text. Polanski recognized the book as being "up my alley. Devils,
vampires and such make great tales."
It was also while reading the novel that Polanski thought of Johnny Depp for
the central role. "Reading, you imagine the characters that are in the
book. I realized right away that this character was very close to what Johnny
looks like: his smile, his charm and his wickedness combined."
Depp's empathic, nuanced performances in such films as Ed Wood, Donnie
Brasco and Edward Scissorhands have earned him recognition as one of
Hollywood's finest young actors. In The Ninth Gate, he played a
bibliophile who abandoned any idealism about his work long ago. Said the actor,
"I think Corso is very passionate about books, but he's also a hard-nosed
businessman and a great cynic. I think he's probably a failed writer, so he
has great hatred for what he loves, in a way."
What begins as an assignment to authenticate a seventeenth-century text
becomes a dangerous investigation into occult legend for Corso. Concerned only
with his percentage, Corso initially gives no credence to the diabolical powers
claimed for The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows by Boris Balkan, a
demonology expert who has just acquired one of its three existing copies.
"He's really uninterested and unbelieving in any kind of supernatural
quality that his employer attributes to the book," remarked Polanski.
"Gradually, through his adventures, he starts having second thoughts about
it and, at the same time, getting intrigued to the point of obsession."
Depp's understated portrayal of Corso underscored the profound,
subterranean transformation of the character from indifferent cynic to
passionate seeker. It was an approach that Polanski enthusiastically applauded.
"The way he played it gave an unexpected color to the character. I imagined
Corso a bit differently, but Johnny always sounds right when he says a line. He
never sounds phony, there's never a wrong tone in his delivery."
He was also impressed with the intuitive understanding Depp brought to his
work. "With some actors, you have to be very specific and explain every
detail to get the performa
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