Meaning Of The Film The Ninth Gate (1999), Explanation Of The Ending, Plot Summary.
Devil, Angel & Circles of hell in Roman Polanski’s puzzle “The Ninth Gate”
Country: USA, France, Spain
Genre: thriller, detective, fantasy
Year of production: 1999
Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Frank Langella, Lena Olin, Emmanuelle Seigner, Barbara Jefford
The Ninth Gate (1999) is one of the most famous and controversial mystical thrillers by Roman Polanski. It is noteworthy that almost all the work of this director is based on literary primary sources, and an indescribable atmosphere is created in each picture. What is the meaning of the movie “The Ninth Gate”? To understand this, you need to do a full analysis of the content.
What is the movie about
Let’s start the review with the general idea of the picture.
The Ninth Gate takes the viewer into the world of rare and old books. The protagonist of the film is Dean Corso, a well-known rarity hunter among collectors. He is an expert in his field, but has a reputation for being unprincipled. At the very beginning of the film, Corso evaluates the collection of books, and in his expert assessment he doubles the cost of rarities, in fact substituting other hunters for rare literature.
The protagonist of the film is Dean Corso, played by Johnny Depp. Frame from the film.
At the same time, he cheats clients by purchasing a four-volume edition of a rare edition of Don Quixote. This scene perfectly characterizes Dean as a person who is ready for anything to achieve his goal.
However, it is precisely unscrupulousness and greed for profit that plays a cruel joke with our hero. Corso forgets about the unspoken rule of this small world, which says that not all books can be opened with impunity. Remember this statement, which will come in handy to explain the ending.
However, back to the content. Corso hires a wealthy American collector, Boris Bolkan, to do one job. All his life he has been collecting books on demonology and witchcraft, studying the Devil himself and bowing before the Prince of Darkness.
Bolkan managed to acquire a rare book called The Ninth Gate to the Realm of Ghosts. This is the work of Aristide Torchia, whom the Inquisition burned at the stake. The value of the tome lies in the fact that only three copies have survived in the world. At the same time, there is a legend that Aristide wrote in collaboration with Lucifer himself.
Bolkan is sure that only one of the three books that have survived to this day is real, and the rest are fakes. It’s up to Dean to make sure of that. To do this, he will have to go to Europe to get acquainted with two other copies. The customer did not stint on the fee.
However, almost from the very beginning of his investigation, Corso is faced with the opposition of certain forces. Someone really wants to get the book, destroying others along the way. In the process of studying, our hero discovers that in each book there are three engravings that are signed by Lucifer. And it is these pictures that are different and carry a secret meaning.
Along the way, Corso is helped by a mysterious stranger who becomes his guardian angel. She does not tell anything about herself, while invariably being aware of all events and providing timely assistance. She reassures Dean that as long as she is around, nothing will happen to him.
Collector Boris Bolkan and Dean Corso. Frame from the film.
Corso goes to the followers of the cult of Torkia. This is a secret society of influential and wealthy people who read the book “The Ninth Gate to the Realm of Ghosts” and arrange orgies. The sect is led by Liana Telfer, the widow of a famous book collector who, before his death, sold the work of Torkia to Boris Bolkan. Boris himself comes to a secret mass, where he calls the sectarians clowns and publicly kills Liana, who had previously stolen the book from Corso.
Bolkan himself is sure that with the help of Dean he was able to solve the puzzle that Lucifer himself left on the engravings, and now he will be able to open the gates between the worlds, gaining absolute power. However, during the ceremony, Bolkan dies in the fire.
To alleviate his suffering, Corso shoots him, after which he collects sheets of engravings and jumps out of the burning ruins. Outside, his guardian angel is waiting for him. Between Dean and a mysterious stranger there is a violent intercourse against the backdrop of blazing ruins.
In the morning they both return by car. Dean goes out to the gas station to top up his tank, and when he returns, he finds that the lady has disappeared, leaving a note under the wiper that one engraving in the book is fake. It was this that prevented Bolkan from performing the ceremony.
Corso finds the original in the workshop of the brothers-restorers, and finds his familiar stranger on it, who sits on a seven-headed snake against the backdrop of the castle in which Bolkan performed the ceremony. At the end of the Ninth Gate, Corso returns to this place, and a gate opens towards him, from which a blinding light beats.
What is the hidden meaning of such an ending to the story? Let’s try to explain the key points.
Most of the decryption lies in the name itself. The “Ninth Gate” is the nine circles of hell, each of which symbolizes one of the human sins. Corso commits adultery, deceives, betrays, steals. This is his way of life, in which he does not see anything reprehensible. In this story, he simply becomes a hostage of the situation. Remember, at the beginning it was mentioned that some books cannot be opened without consequences? This is exactly what happens in the film.
Corso becomes a hostage of a book co-authored with Satan himself, and simply becomes a pawn in the game of higher powers. The paradox of the situation is that our hero does not believe in mysticism and otherworldly forces, therefore all sorts of cults, worship of the Devil and secret rites are empty words for him. He believes only in his fee.
However, having set foot on this path, he is forced to go through it to the end. They are not even driven by curiosity. Initially, he wants to just complete the task of Bolkan, but when he suggests that he leave the rite in order to collect the due fee in New York, Corso refuses. He just can’t leave.
From a simple performer, Dean turns into a key figure in the party between the forces of Darkness and Light. Darkness wins this game, because at the end Corso opens the “Ninth Gate”. He walked the path destined for him, albeit unconsciously.
In this he was helped by the same mysterious stranger who, having had sex with Dean, completed the ritual. Corso had only to return to the place of the ritual, so that the gates opened in front of him. What’s in store for them? Who knows, but a wonderful phrase flashed in the film: “Even in Hell there are heroes.” Probably, according to Polanski’s plan, Dean Corso is to become such a hero. Nothing keeps him on the ground. If Aristide Torkia passed the gate after being burned at the stake, then Dean does not need this, because he knows that Light comes from Darkness. The gate opens not a rite, but knowledge.
A mysterious stranger who helped complete the rite. Frame from the film.
The meaning of the ending
The meaning of the film “The Ninth Gate” is quite deep. As mentioned above, the gate opens knowledge, but there is one more nuance. Only a selfless person can pass through the gate. As paradoxical as it sounds, the greedy and unscrupulous Dean is not looking for benefits from completing his mission. He just goes with the flow, changing with every event.
Gathering bit by bit knowledge, he is not going to use it to achieve his goals. It is explained simply. Our hero simply does not believe in the occult. He is a pragmatist and this is what distinguishes him from other applicants. Corso does not even realize that his stranger is the Whore of Babylon.
This is indicated by the fact that in the engraving she is depicted on a seven-headed snake. Here you can also draw an analogy with the red car on which our heroes move in one of the scenes of the film. This is a red convertible Dodge Viper, which translates as “viper”.
The color is also symbolic, because in the Revelation of John the Theologian, the harlot moves on a “purple beast”. The Whore of Babylon does not represent a specific woman, she symbolizes a city or a people that turned away from God. Having copulated with her, Dean forgot about God, so the only way left for him was to the Devil.
At the same time, Roman Polanski very subtly mocks satanic cults. In The Ninth Gate, the secret meaning was superbly voiced by Bolkan, who called the members of the secret society a gang of elderly adulterers.
The Ninth Gate to the Realm of Ghosts book. Frame from the film.
He is sure that only the meaning of secret knowledge is revealed to him, but Bolkan is also mistaken. Having embarked on the path of knowledge, he is frankly a coward and that is why he turns to Corso. Despite the fact that Bolkan does not dress up in a robe, but wears a respectable suit, he tries to become equal to the Prince of Darkness, performs a ritual and dies.
Truth is revealed only to those who do not seek benefits for themselves. This is how you can express the hidden meaning of the film. Corso finally believed the story, and only pure faith allowed him to pass through the gate. This is how any religion works, regardless of the object of worship. Behind the tinsel, rituals and self-interest lies the true meaning. Only by rejecting everything, you can reunite with your Master, becoming not a slave, but an equal.