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Director Roman Polanskiís film The Ninth Gate, starring Johnny Depp, has been misrepresented as a horror film at the box office and has garnered sour reviews and unhappy reactions from many moviegoers expecting a gory, spooky combination of Sleepy Hollow and Rosemaryís Baby. Based on the book The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte, the movie is actually an involving little mystery about the location and acquisition of an ancient book said to enable the reader to call up Satan. As mysteries go, it really isnít bad; the search for the infernal book is full of cloak and dagger, Frank Langella (of Dracula fame) is perfect as the rich, murderous collector who hires Depp to find copies of the book, and as always, Polanskiís direction is precise, controlled and unique.

But the filmís true value is as a subtle, funny parody of the horror, mystery and film noir genres. With its inside jokes, playful soundtrack and pointed emulation of all that is truly awful in horror films, The Ninth Gate showcases the often understated and odd sense of humor common to both Johhny Depp and Roman Polanski.

Bright Sun, Dark Moon, Back Down to Earth

Roman Polanski was born August 18, 1933, in Paris. He moved with his family to their native Poland when he was just three years old. During World War II, his parents were yanked away from him and taken to a Nazi concentration camp, where his mother died. His formative years were spent without his parents, in the tragedy of war-torn Poland, and he coped with his feelings by escaping to the movies and acting in radio dramas, on stage and in film.

Though he is known for his psychological thrillers, darker sexual themes and, of course, Rosemaryís Baby, Chinatown and Frantic, Polanskiís early films, such as Cul-de-sac and The Fearless Vampire Killers, show a humorous sense of the absurd. Unfortunately, infamy and horror seem to follow Polanski around. He was again shadowed by tragedy with the murder of his wife, actress Sharon Tate, by the Manson Family in the 1960s; and it is doubtful that anyone will forget his 1979 arrest, imprisonment and subsequent flight from the United States for his sexual relationship with a thirteen-year-old girl.

A Sun-sign Leo with Mercury, his communication planet, also in Leo, Polanski is a creative and fiery natural to the film-making business. There is a commanding, intriguing eccentricity to his personality and his work, as well as a strong drive to express himself and to achieve fame. But the placement of the Moon in the directorís chart shows us a hint of the unfortunate fate of the women in his life, as well as his public notoriety: the Moon and Pluto are conjunct in Cancer, involved in a stressful, dynamic T-square formation with Mars and Uranus square (making a 90-degree angle) to the conjunction on either side. This makes for an extremely intense, abrupt, often erratic person who is often at odds with his own emotions and with the people around him.

Dark and brooding and quite changeable, life has always been shaded with black for Polanski. Luckily for him, these aspects are toned down and softened by Venus, Neptune and Jupiter in Virgo, where these benific planets provide an opportunity for a creative release of tensions. It is here, and also in his Cancer Moon, that we find his sense of humor, his practical approach to the tides of his life and also, a surprisingly strong connection with actor Johhny Depp.

Two Peas in a Weird Pod

Born 30 years later on June 9, 1963, the smart, brash young Depp would seem to be worlds apart from the jaded and care-worn Polanski. And yet, the much younger star of Edward Scissorhands, Don Juan DeMarco and Sleepy Hollow shows a similar personal intensity and an eccentric, yet earthy and practical approach to his life, love and work.

Deppís Gemini Sun and Leo Ascendant give him a glib, multifaceted, yet commanding presence. He is a natural communicator with a flair for the dramatic, and heís easily able to switch roles, and then switch back again. His Capricorn Moon is in opposition to Polanskiís rather loony Moon in Cancer, lending deep wells of emotional give and take to the relationship, as well as an appreciation for the differences in the personalities of the two.

With the majority of his planets in earth signs, and especially Uranus in Virgo, Depp quite easily taps into the Virgoan vision of Polanski, responding to his exacting, demanding work style, controlled direction and strange sense of humor with aplomb. Deppís Venus, at 26 degrees Taurus, is exactly trine (120 degrees) Polanskiís Venus and Jupiter in Virgo, which indicates an ease and flow of affection, humor and understanding between the two men, as well as a similar drive, ambition and work ethic.

Depp seemed to thoroughly enjoy this role; his deliberately wooden portrayal of the sleazy book dealer is funny without being obviously over-the-top, and his interaction with horror icon Frank Langellaís evil collector is marvelous.

A Movie of His Own

Whether it was billed as a horror flick unintentionally or not, it seems that Polanski really didnít make The Ninth Gate for the audience as much as he made it for himself. After a long string of harrowing, emotionally draining movies and life experiences, it is past time that Polanski lightened up and laughed a little. Polanski has been quoted as saying, ďI want people to go to the movies. I am the man of spectacle. Iím playing.Ē There is no doubt he had a lot of fun with Johhny Depp and The Ninth Gate.


Sharyn Smith is a freelance writer and life-long student of astrology. She is a former newspaper staff reporter and columnist and now publishes her independent articles and editorials on the Internet.

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Other StarIQ articles by Sharyn Smith:

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  • Stephen King Goes After Big Publishing's Jugular   10/11/2000
  • Gorgeous George Clooney   9/9/2000
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  • A Blast From The Past: Remembering Mt. St. Helens   6/21/2000
  • An Apple A Day   5/31/2000
  • What Really Scares the King of Fright?   2/27/2000

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