I watched the movie Ninth Gate many years ago and didn’t even realize it was based on book until recently when I was searching for adaptations for this blog series. I’m don’t think I paid enough attention to the movie, I’m sure I only watched it because of Johnny Depp. I only remember being confused about the ending, which I didn’t even remember correctly.
In the book, we follow Lucas Corso, a sort of mercenary for hardcore book collectors, while working two separate jobs. A friend has asked him to authenticate a handwritten chapter of Alexander Dumas’s Three Musketeer’s. At the same time, he’s been tasked with comparing a rare occult book with the other two existing copies to determine if any are a forgery. His client also wants to possess the other copies by any means possible. As he begins his investigation, things escalate pretty quickly, he’s seduced by the widow of the manuscript’s former owner, a man Corso believes to be a character in a Dumas novel follows then attacks him, and he keeps running into a girl going by the name of a Sherlock Holmes character. There’s also the body count related to both items. I really enjoyed the mystery of the book. There were constant questions about how everything tied together. I don’t want to give it away, but it ended with a couple of twists, one I was not expecting at all.
As for the movie, they made a lot of minor changes that I didn’t really understand. Like the book was completely set in Europe, but the movie starts in New York. They also changed the character’s first name from Lucas to Dean. Neither makes much a difference, so why bother. Most of the other changes made sense as they condensed the story down. A major element they eliminated was the whole Dumas manuscript. In the movie, his only task is to compare the book and obtain by any means possible. Most of the storyline stays the same except the ending isn’t as surprising. Although I didn’t remember much of the movie, I had thought I enjoyed it the first time I watched. Watching it again, most of it seemed vaguely familiar and it was okay. My memory of the ending was a bit off, my confusion probably was because I didn’t pay enough attention.
After reading the book, I’d have to say that was better. The movie gives away too much to the audience. There are times where we are shown things that Corso does not see. In the book, we get the story from Corso’s point of view, so as he tries to figure out each mystery we do too. I like the challenge of it, the movie just made me a passive viewer, where the book made me feel like an active participant. Also, one the twists that really got me was left out.