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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, August 21, 2014 - Edition No 911 

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Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a New York book broker specialising in rare and antique books, highly professional but no saint. When he is hired by the wealthy Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) to track down two matching books to Balkan's priceless and mysterious 17th century Satanic text, The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, Corso sets off on a quest across Europe that is at once terrifying and fascinating. On the way, he meets up with the devastating widow, Liana (Lena Olin), a mysterious assistant, the Girl (Emmanuelle Seigner), a Baroness (Barbara Jefford) and the Cenize brothers (Jose Lopez Rodero) among many others. The secret of the books holds extraordinary powers, or so Balkan believes. And nothing will get in his way.

"Roman Polanski might be past his prime but he can still deliver polished goods when his heart's in it. Relishing a return to supernatural themes Polanski injects plenty of style into this slick entry about a book dealer hunting down copies of a demonic manuscript written in 1666. Based on Arturo Perez-Reverie's novel El Club Dumas, The Ninth Gate has faint echoes of Angel Heart as shady book trader Dean Corso is hired by an even shadier academic (Frank Langella) who owns a copy of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows and wants to check it's authenticity against the only other copies in existence. Satan himself was the legendary co-author of the prized volume so it pays to be sure. Busy plotting finds Corso up to his neck in danger and dead bodies as the hunt moves to Spain and France where rival bidders have also heard about the book's hidden secrets. You may guess the outcome early into proceedings but it doesn't matter too much because this has such a strong set of characters the journey is worthwhile.

Depp's terrific as a sleazy operator in a profession we might imagine to be noble and Lena Olin is dynamite as his chief rival for the treasured tomes. Elsewhere there are fabulous performances by veteran Barbara Jefford as a wheelchair-bound Baroness, Euro-trash legend Jack Taylor as an aristocrat who's fallen on hard times and, best of all, Jose Lopez Rodero who plays book-selling twins Corso encounters in Portugal. Rodero, a production manager and assistant director whose career stretches back to El Cid and 55 Days at Peking, had never acted before yet turns in a wonderfully sinister performance as these oddball bookworms.

Add the sexy Mrs Polanski (Emmanuelle Seigner) as a mystery woman tracking Corso's moves and you have an intriguing gallery of players. Beautifully shot by Darius Khondji and featuring a sensuous score by Wojciech Kilar (available in isolation on the menu options), The Ninth Gate is a slick and entertaining detour to the dark side."
Richard Kuipers

Published June 14, 2001

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US (2000)

CAST: Johnny Depp, Emmanuelle Seigner, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, James
Russo, Jack Taylor, Barbara Jefford.
DIRECTOR: Roman Polanski
RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes

DVD RELEASE: May 9 2001

SPECIAL FEATURES: Widescreen 2.35:1, Audio Commentary with Roman Polanski, Trailer, Featurette, Cast and Crew Biographies. 5solated Music Score, Production Notes, Gallery of Satanic Drawings. Language: English. Subtitles: English (H.O.H)

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