The Ninth Gate
New Page -- 2 February 2007
The Ninth Gate is a film by the well known director, Roman Polanski. It is billed as a raising the devil movie (as opposed to simply raising Cain). For example, the DVD's cover includes such quotes as:
Wow! That sounds pretty scary. Sort of like playing with fire and getting burnt (pardon the pun).
Within the community of true disciples seeking enlightenment, there is a well established tradition or standard whereby profound truths are clothed in apparently scary stuff -- what might otherwise be described as a sheep in wolf's clothing. The gist of the technique is that only those with the courage, understanding, ability to discriminate or see beyond the facade can be allowed the opportunity to discover the esoteric ("for the few") truths. For anyone else there are only left-overs, the exoteric ("for the many") apparent truths. The key factor here is that the spiritual path is only destined for those who are willing to pay attention to the man behind the curtain (a reference to the Wizard of Oz, another movie with hidden truths). That is, instead of simply blindly following the path of the Willfully Ignorant.
Accordingly, an unwillingness to look beyond the cover of a book simply because its subject matter appears to be unsavory can lead to a condition where important truths can be overlooked. Admittedly, there are probably few esoteric truths to be uncovered in a movie like Chucky battles Jason in Halloween 666. (And I apologize to everyone if I've inadvertently given some demented soul the idea for a title of just such a movie.) But well-established actors such as Johnny Depp and Frank Lagrella, and their appearance in a movie might motivate one to revisit the movie/book and take a deeper look.
For example, is it possible, a Johnny Depp fan might ask, that Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate is far more than it seems? The book, The Dumas Club by Arturo Perez-Reverte, the original engravings by Francisco Sole, and the screenplay by Enrique Urbizu, Roman Polanski, and John Brownjohn all certainly provide for "an irresistible Gothic thriller." But is there more in the movie than what might appear at first glance?
Well obviously there is, or why else would the question have been asked! Duh!
On the one hand, Philip Coppens' article "The Ninth Gate Opens" does constitute an excellent treatise in providing what might be termed the exoteric interpretation of the movie (and book). His relatively brief article is well worth reading... we'll wait here for your return.
Back already? Well then... Now that you're somewhat intrigued by the possible depth of The Ninth Gate, consider just a few comments by Mr. Coggen. For example,
There is no evidence the historical figure, Giordano Bruno, ever attempted to summon the devil, but nevertheless he was burned at the stake by the Catholic Church. But instead of his charred remains representing a blot upon his character, his death at the hands of the Catholic Church places Bruno in the best of company. One might surmise that upon his arrival at the pearly gates, the guardians thereof almost certainly exclaimed, "What? You were burned by the Catholics? Then welcome honored guest! Such a distinction can only add to your glory. Quickly, bring out the fatted calf, notify the heavely caterers of a great feast, and don't forget to inform the dancing girls that there services will be once again in demand!"
But I digress.
Another, far more intriguing essay on the hidden merits of The Ninth Gate has been written by Laurel Whitney, and her essay is the primary content of the ten pages (being posted here with her kind permission). Ms. Whitney does an astounding job of relating the contents of the movie and the book to the Qabala, The Tree of Life, and to the general contents of this website. By analyzing the movie in considerable detail, she shows that Roman Polanski's movie is sufficiently filled with symbolism and otherwise apparently insignificant detail, that it's almost certainly intended as such. The profound truths that seem to be lurking in The Ninth Gate can almost certainly have been intended by all of the creators of the book and movie.
An example of such underlying meanings -- which is my responsibility and not Ms. Whitney's -- is the tendency to think of Johnny Depp's character (Corso) as intially shallow and self-serving, and by the moral standards of today, something to be avoided. However...
In the movie, it is apparent that Corso lives in a relatively sparse apartment (decorated for the most part with primarily books, in effect his stock in trade). Other than his briefcase which he is never without, he has no affiliations, relationships (other than business), and is quite literally unattached. His interest is not in having friends, but as he points out to a bookstore owner, but in his "percentage". One can assume, therefore, that he has no particular baggage which might hinder his quest. Losing the baggage is in fact considered one of the prime requirements for anyone seeking enlightenment.
Baggage, it should be emphasized, is more than just stuff. Baggage might also be construed as emotional baggage (a failure to get ye over it), societal baggage (doing what is politically correct, i.e. not being shallow and self-serving), and paradigm baggage (the possible inability to see beyond one's current understanding of reality, and at the same time a possible unwillingness to allow radical change to occur in one's view of the world). One can hardly expect success on their Fool's Journey or Hero's Journey with any of the limitations imposed by Baggage (with a capital "B")!
In the movie, the character played by Johnny Depp, Lucas Corso, has apparently rid himself of the societal baggage of doing only what is correct, i.e. not being shallow and self-serving. Corso also shows no indication of having or having had any close personal relationships, and in fact seems to be content to have sexual relations with anyone as the opportunity arises. His paradigm baggage is also apparently minimal in that revelations [pardon the pun] do not seem to dissuade him from his pursuit. Corso is, in effect, the epitome of The Fool, and like the Fool on his Journey, he carries only his sachel, and is otherwise pretty much oblivious to all the warnings of what might happen if one does not follow the straight and narrow.
It must be suggested here that someone's eagerness to please others is NOT a good sign for a person entering upon a quest to reach a higher level of existence. Instead, there has to be a willingness on the part of the initiate to do whatever is necessary to reach his or her goal -- and "to hell with what anyone else thinks!" (Again, pardon the pun.) The true "Hero's Journey" is not about being a nice guy, a good provider, or a pillar of society. (Pillars, after all, are singularly inept at traveling.) One can take the path of The Fool, but where it is understood that no one expects the Fool to make a positive contribution to society. This therefore allows the Fool to be shallow -- by definition -- as well as self-serving, if only because the Fool is forgiven for all such transgressions inasmuch as, well... he's a "fool".
Keep in mind also that certain authorities have attempted to incarcerate Roman Polanski for allegedly having sex with an underage female -- the latter whom may or may not have initially been a willing participant. If one assumes that consensual sex is okay, and furthermore that no one was harmed, then it's difficult to see a crime. [The caveat, of course, involved the female who was considerably underage, even if she may have looked the part.] Accordingly, the seeming contempt by the movie's "hero", Corso, of certain societal mores may have been intentional in the movie as a means of Polanski's own apparent contempt . Polanski may in fact have a better understanding of truth than we might have imagined.
Laurel Whitney's essay, "A Qabalistic Key to the 'Ninth Gate', or How to Defeat the Anti-Christ in Your Spare Time", is given below. Because of its length and the occasional sidebar, it is broken into nine (naturally) sections. There are:
For those who looking for a quick fix without all that investment of time and energy, try reading The Polanski Code first (as opposed to The DaVinci Code). That should whet your appetite sufficiently to return to the other portions of the essay.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Engravings from the book, The Dumas Club, and the movie, The Ninth Gate, can be found at An Eclectic Historian. It is strongly recommended that you print out these pages (all 18) and use them in the process of reading Ms. Whitney's essay. Just be sure to keep track which of the engravings are from the book and which from the movie. Also be sure to note the "signatures" of "AT" and "LCF".
(6/20/9) The Eclectic Historian is apparently missing from the net. Fortunately, Apocolyptic Productions is still in business. It provides in the way of a download, good quality engravings from the movie (which can also be had from the movie's CD jacket), and suggests you buy the book for the novel's engravings.
ONE FINAL WARNING -- other than "abandon hope all ye who enter here" -- is that you might want to see the movie before reading the essay. The reason for this is that Ms. Whitney pretty much gives away a lot of the plot in her analysis. In other words, enjoy the movie -- knowing that there is more to it than mere appearances -- and then read the essay. And then see the movie again. (If you bought or rented the movie, the second time around should be financially nonstressful -- and it won't make Roman Polanski a bit richer -- just in case you're not one of his biggest fans.)
A QABALISTIC KEY TO 'THE NINTH GATE'
How to Defeat the Anti-Christ in Your Spare Time
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Note: In addition to making comments and suggestions via the Feedback mechanism for this website, one can also make comments directly to the author, Laurel Whitney, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments worth sharing with others may be included in The Ninth Gate Commentaries.
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