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In The Ninth Gate, after Corso and "The Girl" fight off Telfer's emissary who is trying to steal back her copy of The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows, Corso and "The Girl" return to Corso's hotel room, and she wipes the blood from under her nose and smears it down his forehead. Why does she do this?

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  • @ChristianRau, I can understand why you put the title of the movie in the body of the question, but why did you remove it from the question title? Just curious. My guess is redundancy with the tag? – Drew Chapin Sep 16 '13 at 8:58
  • I just know it from other SE sites (or, to admit, mainly SO) that tags in titles are discouraged because of the redundancy. And here it seems to be a common policy, too, while not that strictly enforced (yet coleopterist is big fan of it ;-)). I for myself don't care that much (if it's well-written at least, like yours actually was, not something like "Ninth Gate: ..."), but since I was editing it anyway (mainly because of the tag), I just fixed it. – Napoleon Wilson Sep 16 '13 at 9:23
  • @ChristianRau, thanks! Actually, I wasn't sure about the tag. I think I've seen "the" left off of the tags a number of times, though it could be because of the length limit. – Drew Chapin Sep 16 '13 at 9:27
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    "though it could be because of the length limit" - Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not, but I am of the viewpoint that the length limit should be the only reason, since tags should capture the title as best as possible. Yet like many site policies that's far from being written in stone. – Napoleon Wilson Sep 16 '13 at 9:29
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    @ChristianRau ... I think titles are best placed in tags as well. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Sep 16 '13 at 10:37
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I think this was a decision on Polanski's part to suggest to the audience that perhaps "The Girl" is actually LCF - Lucifer, in particular, in the sense of "light bearer".

To me, the mark she makes looks like a trident - for example, what Death holds in his left hand in the fifth engraving:

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...there are three verticle lines on Corso's forehead, one down his nose. Whatever it means, he's got her mark on his forehead for all the world to see.

Of note, this is not the mark as it is described in the book or the screenplay. On page 261 in chapter 12 "Buckingham and Milady" of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's "The Club Dumas" the mark she makes is described as four vertical lines:

She touched his face and drew four red lines with her fingers, from his forehead to his chin.

The mark she makes is described similarly in the screenplay:

  1. PARIS HOTEL: BEDROOM INT/NIGHT

CORSO is filling a plastic laundry bag with ice from a tray in the minibar.

THE GIRL is sitting on the bed with her head tilted back and a bloodstained handkerchief to her nose. The bedside light bathes the room in a subdued glow.

...

Her nose has stopped bleeding.

THE GIRL: Do you believe in the Devil, Corso?

CORSO: I'm being paid to. Do you?

THE GIRL (smiles): I'm a bit of a devil myself...

She reaches up, removes his glasses, and puts them on the bedside table. CORSO eyes her uncertainly. Then the spell is broken: her nose starts to bleed again.

She puts her fingertips to it and inspects the blood on them. Very deliberately, she dabbles them in the blood some more, reaches up, and gently draws four vertical lines down his face from his forehead to his mouth, where her fingertips linger.

CORSO's face approaches hers. They melt into a passionate kiss, Then she pushes W= away, rolls him over on his back, unbuttons his shirt, and rests her palms on his chest. Playfully, she runs her forefinger over the imprint of Liana's teeth.

THE GIRL (smiles mischievously): Would you know a devil if you saw one?

In both the book and screenplay, the two get it on after she "marks him" but the movie takes a different course: Corso gets a call and goes down to the lobby to talk with Balkan on the phone. After that, with the blood still smeared on his face, he talks with the hotel clerk. At this point, I think Polanski is also just having a little fun with his good looking A-list actor - much the same way he relished cutting Nicholson's nose in "Chinatown." (Sorry, I don't have a reference, but I once saw an interview with him where he described the daring of a Director to mark up the lead actors face.)

...and Polanski does so in a way which works for Corso's character. He's not a man who is terribly concerned with his personal appearance, how he looks to other's or what they might think of him.

"The Girl" is still very mysterious at this point in the movie's story. We don't know what her motivation is, but she does keep protecting him. To what end, tho? For what purpose? Corso even asks her, "And you - where do you fit into it?" The phone rings and he answers it, so she does not have to answer. There is an obvious sexual tension between the two and Corso does seem to be coming under her spell. He even gets a little hypnotized by her changing iris color just prior to being marked - is he literally or actually under her spell? Is she just playing around? Is she practicing blood magic? We don't know, but there it is: her eye colors change and now he's got her blood on his face... in the shape of a trident.

As far as the movie is concerned, whether she is the devil, a guardian angel (she reply's "If you say so..." when Corso asks her on the plane ride if she is his), or "the whore of Babylon," I think Polanski is just making use of a powerful signifier to keep the dramatic tension heightened. There is a lot of religious significance to making a mark on the forehead (e.g. Ash Wednesday, Tilaka, etc.) as well as all the psychological significance of the "mask" one wears, how the world sees them, etc. Equally potent is the idea of "blood magic" and ritual body markings. Considering the "satanic" angle of the film, I think it is just a devilish little detail from the Director.

Similar to how Harry ("hairy"?) Angel realizes the pun of Louis Cypher's name as Lucifer, so too "LCF" refers to a name which can be read as "bringer of light." When Corso enters the Ninth Gate, is he becoming enlightened? Is he going to heaven? Or is the Ninth Gate perhaps a doorway out from the Kingdom of Shadows, i.e. the world as we know it is hell. Was this mark a part of her spell to help him stay on the path to the Ninth Gate? We can only speculate.

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    I think you a make a very compelling argument here, and it makes a lot of sense. – Drew Chapin May 9 '17 at 14:22
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About the only analysis that I can even find on that portion is from this website, where it is compared to the Qabalah (or Kabbala) and the Tree of Life. I don't remember there being much of an explanation in the original book, "The Club Dumas".

Earlier, when Corso first expressed his admiration and gratitude to the girl for fighting for him against the albino down by the river, we saw the bond of Higher Feeling growing between them. It was at this point that the girl looked lovingly at Corso and drew with her fingers three vertical lines on his forehead with her own blood, the central line extending down his nose. There is a long spiritual tradition of marking the forehead as a sign of spiritual protection and initiation in both Eastern and Western traditions and three vertical marks on the forehead is the traditional Hindu sign of initiation of those who worship God in the form of Vishnu, the Preserver, whose qualities (like those of Chesed) are kindness and mercy. Such marks are also worn as a reminder of the consecration of the body as the temple of the Spirit, and in Corso's case might represent a sign of his initiation into Higher Feeling and the realm of the Soul. [Corso's blood stained forehead is not immediately cleaned.]

In the context of the Tree of Life, the three symbolic marks might also refer to the three Transcendent Creative energies of the Supernal Triad (which, when the body is superimposed on the Tree, are located in the head). The elongated center mark might symbolize the Central Pillar which extends downward from the highest central sephira of the Godhead, Kether/Crown, representing the route of the path of return which Corso is traveling. The girl begins as a symbolic figure who models for him the qualities of the Soul which he will gradually grow into, but once Corso has achieved the union of his ego and Soul, the inter-dimensional figure of the girl remains a symbol of the non-dual Spirit. It is his union with her in this capacity which will carry him across the Abyss and into union with the Spirit with the opening of the Ninth Gate.

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    Uh, well yeah, I guess? Still better than the other answer, I guess. At least +1 for the research effort. – Napoleon Wilson Jan 14 '14 at 20:58
  • Yeah, it's way out on the fringe, but that's all that I could find. Couldn't even find a master's thesis for Club Dumas, which surprised me. – JohnP Jan 14 '14 at 21:01
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This is because of a secret blood pact that takes place. It resembles the "I am you and you are me" in this movie.

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    Secret blood pact? I don't recall anything to do with a secret blood pact. Could you elaborate a little more? – Drew Chapin Sep 16 '13 at 21:07

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