Polanski's "The Ninth Gate:" DW influenced?

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maisonvivante
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Polanski's "The Ninth Gate:" DW influenced?

Post by maisonvivante » Thu 2 Nov, 2006 04:29:11

I just watched Roman Polanksi's film from 1999 "The Ninth Gate," and was struck by how much of it seem Wheatley-esque. The idea of a Satanic mystery, the travel through Europe, the mysterious femme fatale who turns out to be a guardian angel of sorts--all seemed very much in the Wheatley tradition. I haven't read the novel it was based on ("The Club Dumas"), but I have read that the film's overt use of the occult is very different from the more realistic novel. In short, it sounds as if Polanski altered the storyline of the book so that it had more in common with a DW novel.

Did anyone else notice the similiarities?

I wish Polanski had actually chosen to adapt a Wheatley book. I think the uneasy mix of elements in "The Ninth Gate" resulted from the changes he made to the novel, and with Wheatley he could have told an occult story and still remained faithful to the book. As far as directors go, Polanski is the ideal candidate (in my opinion) to adapt a Wheatley novel. His masterwork "Rosemary's Baby" is one of the few well-crafted films that deals with the devil in an intelligent, stylish, and witty way. Plus, he has excelled at period pieces like "The Piano" and "Chinatown" so he could certainly adapt the stories into the proper era (which I feel is essential. No modern setting for me!) And he's the perfect blend of a European auteur with mass-market appeal--an ideal director for DW.

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Thu 2 Nov, 2006 15:30:48

Fascinating insight, thanks maisonvivante. I must get out and find myself a copy of The Ninth Gate. I was totally in ignorance about it being an adaptation of one of Dumas' titles, which in itself has interesting connections, as DW freely confessed that he based his de Richleau tales on Dumas' works.

Now, who has a connection to Polanski?

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Post by maisonvivante » Thu 2 Nov, 2006 21:29:03

Bob Rothwell wrote:Fascinating insight, thanks maisonvivante. I must get out and find myself a copy of The Ninth Gate. I was totally in ignorance about it being an adaptation of one of Dumas' titles, which in itself has interesting connections, as DW freely confessed that he based his de Richleau tales on Dumas' works.

Now, who has a connection to Polanski?
Bob, it's actually based on a novel called "The Club Dumas" that deals with Dumas' work in both literal and figurative ways--it's not actually based on a Dumas novel. The film gets rid of most of the Dumas references (but not all) and changes the story quite a bit. But yes--the movie is a bizarre combination of Wheatley-esque moments, Dumas references, and Polanksi weirdness!

Unfortunately, I don't know Polanski. If only. . .

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Post by Stevie P » Fri 3 Nov, 2006 13:02:29

Hi Maisonvivante, I had not thought about the connections you have given to The Ninth gate, which is one of my Favourite films.
Johnny Depp plays the role really well and the film is really absorbing.

I must buy the book. (This sounds like a reference in the film!!!!)

Another film to watch is, Eyes wide shut, not so much for any occult references but the ceremonies in the Big House are almost reminiscent of the ancient Venice masked balls (a la Rape of venice).
I can't think of any other Wheatley connections but its a great film to get involved in as is 'The NinthGate'

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Post by lukehoney » Sat 18 Nov, 2006 11:13:42

All this is interesting stuff. I don't think Polanski (Ninth Gate), and Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut) were consciously imitating Dennis. The crux of the matter is to what extent Dennis influenced or created the whole Devil Worship genre in 20th century film-making? But then wasn't Dennis himself reviving Gothic fiction of the 19th century and updating it to the modern world? Think- Le Fanu (Uncle Silas), Walpole's "Castle of Otranto", Northanger Abbey, Edgar Allen Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft. Dennis, surely, was writing in a well-established tradition, but combining it with a mid-20th century world of fast cars, luxury food, and expensive people; and this in itself was heavily influenced by Hollywood movies of the period.

I suspect that the rash of Devil Worship films in the 1960's and 1970's was also heavily influenced by the salacious and sensational articles that were appearing in the red top popular tabloids of the period, which was a symptom of the New Age revivial of that period. Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, appeared in "Eye of the Devil", a Wheatleyesque movie set in a French Chateau during the 1960's. Has anyone seen this?

As far as Eyes Wide Shut goes, I detect an influence from such books as Daniel Mannix's "The Hell Fire Club", another pulp blockbuster from the 1950's. Would be interesting to get a debate going on this. Is DW merely part of the Gothic tradition, or did he create a new genre?

Luke

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Post by Stevie P » Sat 18 Nov, 2006 19:52:05

Luke,

I quite agree with your comments. Can't say I've heard of 'Eye of the Devil' though.

I like the link to DW and the Hell Fire club by Mannix, although when you say a pulp blockbuster , it suggests fiction. This book was supposedly based on fact!!! Somewhat embellished though, I must say.
To confirm DW's interest in the HellFire club is the fact that he has added a copy of Donald McCormick's - The Hell Fire Club to his Library of the Occult series No.26. A much more sedate but very readable version of Sir Francis Dashwood's club.

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Post by lukehoney » Sun 19 Nov, 2006 16:28:09

Stevie

Thanks for your reply. "Eye of the Devil" is a fairly obscure film, though it has a great cast: David Niven, Deborah Kerr, David Hemmings, Donald Pleasance, and Sharon Tate. I am trying to track down a copy, though I think this wil be hard in the UK. Yes, the Hell Fire Club link is interesting. As you say, Mannix's cult book is not fiction, though it can hardly be called history, and Mannix plays up the sensational side. I assume DW used McCormick's book as an historical reference for "The Irish Witch". |I'm sure you also know the infamous Avengers Hell Fire Club episode, which was banned in America for being too kinky!

My point was that DW had the brilliant idea of using the Gothic tradition in the context of popular 1930's fiction, and created something a bit different. This in itself influenced filmmakers in the 1960's and 1970's who were keen to cash in on the then current interest and revival in the occult. But Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" is its own film, and I don't detect a great deal of influence from "The Devil Rides Out".

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Post by Stevie P » Mon 20 Nov, 2006 12:41:00

Yes Luke, I certainly remember Mrs Peel in the Hellfire Club!!! I only watched it for its historical content of course!!!!!!!! Several times ;-)

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Post by Lark1 » Mon 20 Nov, 2006 19:23:10

The film certainly is only very loosely based upon the book and the film did remind me a lot of Dennis Wheatley books, however I do think it could be coincidential.

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