Johnny Depp plays, in Polanski’s thriller, a rare book sleuth, specialist in his line of work. He is hired to find the last two existing copies of the seventeenth-century Book of the Nine Doors to the Kingdom of Darkness. He accepts the assignment and it develops into sort of a labyrinth hunt that leads from New York to Toledo, to Paris and around the whole world. He is exposed to danger and temptations, it’s almost like an unknown fury is pursuing him. But at the same time he seems to have an angelical being that protects him and leads him in the right direction. One by one he solves the riddles that are in the book and finally realises the real meaning of his mission. The Ninth Gate is based on Arturo Perez-Reverte’s novel Club Dumas. –Stockholms filmfestival
The son of a Polish Jew and a Russian immigrant, Polanski was born in Paris on August 18, 1933. When he was three, his family moved to the Polish town of Krakow, an unfortunate decision given that the Germans invaded the city in 1940. Things went from bad to worse with the formation of Krakow’s Jewish ghetto, and Polanski’s family was the target of further persecution when his parents were deported to a concentration camp. Just before he was to be taken away, however, Polanski’s father helped his son escape, and the boy managed to survive with help from kindly Catholic families, although he was at times forced to fend for himself. (At one point, the Germans decided to use Polanski for idle target practice.) It was during this period that Polanski became a devoted cinephile, seeking refuge in movie houses whenever possible. Shortly after sustaining serious injuries in an explosion, Polanski learned of his mother’s death at Auschwitz. His father survived the camps, and moved back to Krakow… read more
It's a somewhat silly film, but I find that I quite enjoy it for its gothic subject matter, its rareness as a "book detective" story, and Polanski's seasoned mise-en-scene mastery. I just love watching him work.