The Ninth Gate

Synopsis: Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) specializes in tracking down rare and exotic volumes for collectors. Boris Balkan (Frank Langella) has recently acquired a seventeenth-century satanic text called The Nine Gates- a legendary book written by Satan himself. With The Nine Gates in his possession, Corso soon finds himself at the center of strange and violent goings-on. Not only is his apartment ransacked, it appears that he is being shadowed ferociously by others determined to regain the book.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Production: Artisan Entertainment
  1 win & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
133 min

A Screenplay by Roman Polanski, John Brownjohn and Enrique Urbizu

Based on a novel by Arturo Perez-Reverte


ANDREW TELFER, a scrawny seventy-year-old, is writing a note at

his desk in one corner of a big, book-lined room. Dangling from

the central chandelier is a noose. A chair stands beneath it.

TELFER looks up for a moment. Blankly, he eyes a framed

photoportrait on his desk: a beautiful, thirty-something blonde

returns his gaze with an enigmatic smile.

He stops writing and folds the sheet, scrawls something on the

back, and leaves it on the desk. Then he walks to the centre of

the room and climbs on the chair. He puts his head through the

noose and tightens it around his neck.

He kicks away the back of the chair, but it doesn't fall.

Frantically, he tries again: this time the chair topples over.

The chandelier squeaks as it swings on its hook, but it holds.

Fragments of plaster come raining down.

TELFER's neck isn't broken: he starts to choke. His feet perform

a convulsive dance in mid-air only six inches above the floor;

one of his shoes comes off.

The CAMERA leaves the dying man and MOVES IN on the bookshelves.

To the accompaniment of choking sounds, it PANS across the

serried rows of volumes until it reaches a gap that shows where

one of them has been removed.

The choking sounds cease.

The CAMERA enters the black void left by the missing book.

Absolute, abysmal DARKNESS.


The Manhattan skyline seen through a picture window. Above it,

reflected in the windowpane, the face of an OLD WOMAN seated with

her back to the room. Her expression is impassive and self-

absorbed, her twisted mouth suggests she's a stroke victim. She

seems quite uninvolved in the action behind her.

CORSO (O.S.) An impressive collection. You have some very rare

editions here. Sure you want to sell them all?

We now discover the speaker, BOB CORSO: a tall, lean, rather

unkempt man in his 30's. Steel-rimmed glasses, crumpled old tweed

jacket, worn cords, scuffed brown oxfords. He could almost be a

shabby university teacher if it weren't for the street-wise glint

in his eye.

He replaces a book on a shelf. Standing beside him is the Old

Woman's SON, a middle-aged man with a puffy red face. Her

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW looks on, one hand cupping her elbow, the fingers

of the other playing avidly with her lower lip. The SON is

cuddling a large Scotch on the rocks like it's an integral part

of his anatomy. His tone is too lugubrious to be true.

They're no use to Father, not anymore -not now he's passed

away. His library was his own little world. Now it's just a

painful memory for Mother here.

Unbearably painful.

CORSO glances at them over the top of his glasses, then at the

OLD WOMAN. It's clear that the OLD WOMAN's true source of pain is

their rapacious desire to convert her late husband's library into

hard cash.

CORSO picks up a notebook, adjusts his glasses with an

instinctive, habitual movement, taps the notebook with his


Well, at a rough, preliminary estimate, you have a

collection here worth around two hundred thousand dollars.

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW (almost jumps): Two hundred thousand?!

Or thereabouts.

He smiles sweetly at the DAUGHTER-IN-LAW.

The OLD WOMAN continues to stare blankly at her reflection in the

window. Behind her, the SON sidles up to CORSO, who indicates the

volumes in question.

How much were you thinking of...

Hmm... I couldn't go higher than four grand -- four-and-a-

half tops. (takes an envelope from his shoulder bag and starts

peeling off some bills)


CORSO strides briskly along the corridor toward the elevator with

the canvas bag slung from his shoulder. He's grinning to himself.

The bag is obviously heavier than it was.

The elevator doors open just as he's about to press the button.

He almost collides with a bespectacled, briefcase-carrying man in

a three-piece suit and bow tie (WITKIN) -- a cross between an

intellectual and a business executive.

WITKIN (caustically): You here? You didn't waste much time.

Hello, Witkin. There's a small fortune in there. (smiles

sardonically) Help yourself.

WITKIN (eyes CORSO's beg suspiciously): You're a vulture, Corso.

Who isn't in our business?

You'd stoop to anything.

CORSO brushes past him into the elevator, turns and pats his

shoulder bag.

For a 'Quixote' by Ybarra? You bet I would.

WITKIN (indignantly): Unscrupulous, thoroughly unscrupulous!

CORSO (thumbs the elevator button): Good hunting!

The doors close on WITKIN's indignant face.


A sign says "CLOSED." CORSO pushes open the door of an old

fashioned semibasement bookstore -- 'BERNIE'S RARE BOOKS' -- and

enters. He walks up to the counter and deposits his bag on it.

Witkin just called me. He's spitting blood.

CORSO looks around. The voice came from ten feet up and three

bookcases along. BERNIE FELDMAN, a man around CORSO's age with

dark, curly hair receding at the temples, is perched at the top

of a spiral staircase.

What's his problem?

BERNIE (replacing some books): He says you're a double-dealing,

money grubbing bastard. He says he had that sale tied up, and now

you've queered his pitch.

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John Brownjohn

Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański (born 18 August 1933), known professionally as Roman Polanski, is a French-Polish film director, producer, writer, and actor. Having made films in Poland, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, he is considered one of the few "truly international filmmakers". Born in Paris to Polish parents, he moved with his family back to Poland (Second Polish Republic) in 1937, shortly before the outbreak of World War II.He survived the Holocaust, was educated in Poland (People's Republic of Poland), and became a director of both art house and commercial films. more…

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