The Ninth Gate (1999)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary-Roman Polanski (Director)
Isolated Musical Score
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||127:34 (Case: 132)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (60:33)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Roman Polanski|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The film traces Corso's travels finding the other two copies located in France and Spain and comparing them with Balkan's copy. Along the way, he brushes with members of the French, Spanish and German aristocracy played convincingly by Lena Olin, Jack Taylor and Barbara Jefford, most of whom meet their demise in unfortunate circumstances. He is aided along the way by the mysterious and enigmatic 'Girl' played convincingly by Emmanuelle Seigneur who leaves us guessing until the fiery conclusion as to her true role in the tale.
What distinguishes The Ninth Gate from ten-a-penny Satanic tales is the combination of a strong acting cast, an ever-changing sequence of locations in France, Spain and Portugal and Polanski's extraordinary eye for detail and perfection. From the opening titles filmed arising from a sequence of nine gates to the fiery finale, the viewer is enveloped in the rich atmosphere of classic Polanski and presented with an encyclopaedic presentation of filming techniques, both old and new, assembled by a master of his craft. A self-confessed fan of DVD, Polanski throws down the gauntlet to "nit-pickers", armed with a remote, to find fault with his continuity and technique. Similarities between the rich leather-bound books and furnishings of the sets of The Ninth Gate and The Godfather Trilogy are accounted for by the Production Designer's (Dean Tavoularis) long association with Francis Ford Coppola.
Although Polanski freely admits he is a non-believer in such matters and as such presents the tale with a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek and irony, the extraordinary detail of the sets and props is enough to provide the viewer with a nagging doubt that, maybe, there is no smoke without fire!
The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is clear and sharp and there is is very little in the way of low level noise. This is important as there is much subtle detail available such as the intricacies of the text wood block engravings and frequent use of glass reflection (eg Corso's glasses) to convey information. There is an occasional jerkiness in panning evident in this PAL version that was notably absent from the R1 NTSC version.
The colours were rich and mostly subdued as would be expected from the interior sets of the Continental book-collecting aristocracy. CGI and bluescreen effects are bright and the various fire effects are well presented by the Dubois effects unit with a notable absence of flare and oversaturation.
The trade-off for the sharpness of the transfer is the aliasing throughout the film eg Taxi Cab at 21:30, which at times proved distracting and detracted from the atmosphere of the film. Severe moire artefacts were also evident at times on Venetian blinds eg 15:04 and 75:30. There were small film artefacts, mostly white marks, throughout the feature but these were not distracting.
Subtitles were available in English only and were an accurate portrayal of the soundtrack.
This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed between scene changes at 60:33. It is well placed and barely discernible.
There are three audio tracks available. The default track is in English Dolby Digital 5.1. Two other tracks are provided in Dolby Digital 2.0, track two being an isolated music score and track three being a director's commentary from Roman Polanski.
The dialogue was a little muffled and hard to hear at times which was surprising considering the quality of the actors and probably represents a mild deficiency in recording technique. Listeners of non-European origin might also find some of the Spanish, French and American drawl a little hard to decipher which is a pity as the dialogue is crucial to understanding the evolving plot.
Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.
The original musical score is superb and was written by Polish compatriot Wojciech Kilar and recorded in Prague. The music augments the supernatural feel to the film much as in Kilar's score to Bram Stoker's Dracula and nicely complements the action sequences. The beautiful recording of Korean soprano Kimi Jo during the end-credits nicely augments the audience uncertainty about Corso's ultimate fate!
The surround channels were used with good, subtle effect to augment the enveloping atmosphere of the film without any particularly notable distraction.
The subwoofer was infrequently used during the few action sequences and to augment the occasional roll of thunder.
|Surround Channel Use|
1:37 trailer presented in 1.33:1 - a good teaser and highlighter for the film.
The images from the Liber Novem Portis drawn especially for the film comparing the differing versions found by Corso between the three different texts. Of relevance for students of Symbol and Tarot cards and for those we want to read more into the film than is probably justified.
Nine pages of lightweight information about the film and a few salient quotes on evil and Satan.
Comprehensive information and filmography for 15 members of cast and crew.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:
|DVD||Toshiba SD-900E, using RGB output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||B&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW|