NB: Spolier alert! See the movie first if you don’t want to know the outcome. I’m writing this review, however, for people who may otherwise be disappointed in the movie’s ending — which is better appreciated when you decipher some of the symbolism upon which it is built and have time to study the book’s engravings.
The movie “The Ninth Gate” (script here) is based on a Spanish work of fiction “The Club Dumas” by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. In it the protagonists, Balkan and Corso, respectively search for and research a fictional book called “The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows”. The searcher is material and acquisitive — he knows what he wants and he goes after it. The researcher seeks knowledge, doesn’t know what the outcome will be and enlightenment is his reward. Both are embarking upon a journey, with very different outcomes, one of destruction by fire and the other of enlightenment. Keep your focus on Corso, this is his story, only he passes through the ninth gate. Corso himself doesn’t seem to realise this until the end. Decide for yourself what the role of Corso’s companion is: Is she heaven sent or come straight from hell? Could she represent the whore of Babylon symbolising a false religion and is the burning of the castle at the end a reference to the downfall of Jerusalem?