Review Date: July 16, 2000
Released by: Columbia Tri-Star
Release date: 7/19/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
Director Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Chinatown) brings us the the film adaption to Arturo Perez-Reverte's novel, The Club Dumas. Here we take a look at the DVD of The Ninth Gate, released by Artisan Entertainment.
Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is a dealer of rare books who is quite famous in the book collecting industry. He's a bit of a sleaze, doing whatever necessary to get the book and get paid from the highest bidder. He's hired by Boris Balkan (Frank Langella), who has just come into possession of one of the rarest books, The Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows, shortly before its owner decided to commit suicide. It is one of three copies that exist in the world and it's rumored one can conjure the Prince of Darkness using the book. Boris believes that only one of the copies is authentic and that it's quite possible his is one of the fakes. He hires Dean to travel to Europe to find out which one is authentic and which ones are the fakes.
Dean begins his investigation but immediately suspects that he's in danger when he notices people following him. He confirms this suspicion after his apartment is broken into and he realizes that it's no longer safe to hold onto the book. Dean brings the book to his friend Bernie (James Russo), owner of Bernie's Bookstore, to hold onto the book while he continues his investigation. Liana Telfer (Lena Olin), widow of the previous owner of the book who killed himself after selling it, shows up at Dean's door. She offers to buy the book from him, but after seducing him and finding out he doesn't have the book in his possession she attacks him, knocking him unconscious, and flees the scene. When Dean awakes he recovers the book from Bernie's and heads to Europe.
In Europe he comes to find that Mrs. Telfer was the owner of the book and that the now-deceased Mr. Telfer only paid for it. Dean visits the owners of the two other copies and begins the authentication process. He finds discrepancies between each copy but he's unable to determine which one is the forgery and which is real. Again Dean realizes he's been followed by multiple people in Europe, one who turns out to be a blonde woman (Emmanuelle Seigner), who saves him from an attack on the streets of Europe. She acts as a guardian angel to Dean, and together they travel down a road of murder, deceit and passion to unravel the supernatural mystery behind The Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows.
This was my first time seeing a Roman Polanski film (believe it or not I have NOT seen Rosemary's Baby - I'm waiting for the DVD release this Halloween) so I wasn't sure what to expect. I've heard great things about him and his films, from Chinatown to Rosemary's Baby. And while The Ninth Gate was filled with beautiful scenery and wonderful acting, I did become a bit bored, and at a runtime of 2 hours and 13 minutes it's not much wonder. While some longer films have no trouble keeping you locked in, anxious to see what happens next, The Ninth Gate does not. This film really could've used some more suspense to keep things moving, and it could've easily been added, but sadly it was not. The film is mixed with mystery and horror, with the horror coming mainly from the supernatural elements. Mystery fans will enjoy this more than horror films, as mystery is certainly the main category of this film.
This isn't to say I found The Ninth Gate to be a bad film; while it did bore me some, I must admit to enjoying the acting, the character development and being left pondering after the movie ended. For me, however, The Ninth Gate falls into the rental category, and I recommend people do exactly that to see if it fits their personal tastes.
Artisan Entertainment presents The Ninth Gate widescreen in an anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer. There's lots of beautiful scenery from Europe throughout the film and it's wonderful to look at on high resolution DVD. The video quality is stunning and nearly perfect. The image was extremely sharp with no visible print blemishes or grain in the transfer; only a handful of specks appeared on the image. Colors were vibrant and flesh tones were well balanced throughout the entire film. Excellent job done by Artisan.
The Ninth Gate is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Rears and subwoofer aren't used much, as there aren't that many scenes that call for it. No audio distortion was detected during the film.
Lets start off with the commentary with director Roman Polanski. It's an interesting commentary with very few gaps. Roman gives his thoughts on the various actors and their performances as well as explaining a lot of his personal methods and preference of making films. He gives details on various scenes throughout the film and points out key scenes in the movie. He also explains how he's a fan of the novel, The Club Dumas, that the film is based on and what was changed or removed entirely for the film adaptation. It's a great commentary that I enjoyed listening to even though I wasn't in love with the film itself. It's easy to tell from the commentary that Roman Polanski is an excellent director that knows and loves making films.
Next up we have a short featurette containing interviews with director Roman Polanski and actors Johnny Depp and Frank Langella explaining their thoughts about the film. It runs at about two minutes so don't expect too much. Also found on the DVD are theatrical trailers, an isolated musical score, storyboard selections, a gallery of satanic drawings, TV spots, cast & crew information and production notes. All in all a good amount of extras on the DVD that are enjoyable to go through.
This DVD is of extremely high quality, providing a good deal of supplements and a great audio/video presentation of The Ninth Gate. For anyone who hasn't seen the film I'd recommend it as a rental to see if it fits your tastes. For anyone that enjoyed the film this DVD is an excellent title to add to your collection.
Movie - B-
Image Quality - A-
Sound - A-
Supplements - B
- Running time - 2 hours 13 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- Commentary with Director Roman Polanski
- Isolated Music Score
- Gallery of Satanic Drawings
- Storyboard Selections
- Theatrical trailers
- TV Spots
- Cast & Crew Information
- Production Notes