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Ninth Gate, The (1999, Johnny Depp, Frank Langella)

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Polanski’s demonic thriller stars Johnny Depp as Dean Corso, an unconventional rare-books dealer with few scruples engaged by millionaire collector Boris Balkan (Frank Langella). Balkan owns one of three copies of the 15th century The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of the Shadows, whose author, legend has it, adapted the engravings from Satan himself. He wants the other two copies tracked down so he can compare their engravings with his.

Corso sets out on his mission, meeting the eccentric owners of the other two volumes, but realises he’s also being followed by a mysterious girl (Polanski’s wife Emmanuelle Seigner), who saves his life but also seems to have her own reasons for getting hold of the books. As Corso becomes more and more involved, he realises that Balkan’s desire for the three books to be together is not that of a collector but of someone with a darker purpose…

Depp plays the role to the hilt, hinting at the way he would play later roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, while the veteran Langella is suitably menacing and Lena Olin, as the widow of the original owner of Balkan’s book, is seductively satanic from the opening shot.

production details
France – Spain | 133 minutes | 1999

Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Roman Polanski, Enrique Urbizu, John Brownjohn, from El Club Dumas by Arturo Perez Reverte

cast
Johnny Depp as Dean Corso
Frank Langella as Boris Balkan
Lena Olin as Liana Telfer
Emmanuelle Seigner as The Girl
Barbara Jefford as Baroness Kessler
Jack Taylor as Victor Fargas
José López Rodero as Pablo & Pedro Ceniza/1st & 2nd Workmen
James Russo as Bernie
Willy Holt as Andrew Telfer
Allen Garfield as Witkin
Tony Amoni as Liana’s Bodyguard
Jacques Dacqmine as Old Man
Joe Sheridan as Old Man’s Son
Rebecca Pauly as Daughter-In-Law
Catherine Benguigui as Concierge
Maria Ducceschi as Secretary
Jacques Collard as Gruber
Dominique Pozzetto as Desk Clerk
Emanuel Booz as Baker
Lino Ribeiro de Sousa as Hotel Porter
Asil Raïs as Cabby
Bernard Richier as Cafe Owner
Marinette Richier as Cafe Owner