To travel in silence / by a long and circuitous route, / To brave the arrows of misfortune / and fear neither noose nor fire, / To play the greatest of all games / and win, foregoing no expense / is to mock the vicissitudes of Fate / and gain at last the key / that will unlock the Ninth Gate. - Boris Balkan
To travel in silence… By a long and circuitous route… To brave the arrows of misfortune… To fear neither noose nor fire… To play the greatest of all games… And win, foregoing no expense… Is to walk the vicissitudes of fate… And gain at last the key… That will unlock The Ninth Gate.
The miser is counting his gold pieces, unaware of Death, who holds two clear symbols: an hourglass and a pitchfork. But why a pitchfork and not a scythe? Corso asks. The Baroness replies “Death reaps, but the devil harvests.”
The Ninth Gate is a 1999 French-Spanish-American thriller film directed, produced, and co-written by Roman Polanski. The film is loosely based upon Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s 1993 novel The Club Dumas. The plot involves the search for a rare, ancient book that purportedly contains the secret to magically summoning the Devil.
“One is never alone with a book nearby, don’t you agree? Every page reminds us of a day that has passed and makes us relive the emotions that filled it. Happy hours underlined in red pencil, dark ones in black…”
The story follows the adventures of a book dealer, Lucas Corso, who is hired to authenticate a rare manuscript by Alexandre Dumas, père. Corso’s investigation leads him to seek out two copies of a rare book known as De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis (The Book of the Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows). Corso encounters a host of intriguing characters on his journey of investigation, including devil worshippers, obsessed bibliophiles and an hypnotically enticing femme fatale. Corso’s travels take him to Madrid, Sintra, Paris and Toledo.
He who rebels, exercises his freedom, and takes the risk can earn a different fate. That’s what this book is about, hence the joker, paradigm of freedom. The only free man, and also the most wise. The joker is identified with the mercury of the alchemists, Emissary of the gods, he guides souls through the kingdom of shadows…
Engravings from the (fictional) Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows grimoire
The Ninth Gate was a 1999 film starring Johnny Depp (and directed by the icky Roman Polanski) in which the antique and rare book expert, Dean Corso (played by Depp) is hired by the wealthy book collector Boris Balkan (played by Frank Langella) to authenticate his copy of The Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows by Aristide Torchia, a 17th century student of the black arts. It was rumored that Torchia co-wrote The Nine Gates with Satan and adapted it from Satan’s own work Delomelanicon (Invocation of Darkness). Torchia was burned at the stake by the Holy Inquisition and all copies of The Nine Gates were destroyed, except for three. Legend has it that if you solved the riddle contained in The Nine Gates, you would summon the Devil who would admit you through the ninth gate (i.e. higher knowledge). The only problem is, none of the modern owners of the three copies of The Nine Gates had managed to summon the Devil.
Corso discovers that in each of the three copies, some of the engravings differ from each other (differences in the pictures, etc.). In each copy, the differing ones are signed “LCF." Except…one of those is a forgery.
All in all, this movie was a big ‘meh.' It was based on the novel The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, which most agree is far superior to the movie adaptation.
A lot of interest has been given to the fictional 17th century Nine Gates book in the movie as it was well crafted by the prop artists. So much so that a minor fandom for the fictional book formed from the cult following of the movie.
Here are the engravings (at least as far as Balkan’s copy of The Nine Gates was concerned) as well as instructions on how to make your own Nine Gates. Even if you hate the movie, it’s an impressive project!
One is never alone with a book nearby, don’t you agree? Every page reminds us of a day that has passed and makes us relive the emotions that filled it. Happy hours underlined in red pencil, dark ones in black… Where was I, then? What prince called me his friend, what beggar called me his brother?