In the underrated Polanski movie The Ninth Gate, Jonny Depp plays Corso, a dodgy antique book dealer, who is hired by Balkan, a rich collector, to verify the authenticity of a rare dark book, The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows.

In the course of his quest, Corso is impeded by Tefler, the wife of the book's original owner, who wants to retrieve it to perform some satanic rites. During the quest, there are many acts of violence and murder, but Liana Tefler's team doesn't seem capable of committing them all, nor do they have the opportunity.

So, who commits the killings and what is their purpose?

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    It wasn't THAT underrated. :p
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 28, 2014 at 18:12
  • I think you mean satanic instead of static. Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 0:32
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    @druciferre: To be fair, the rights are used globally... Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


The murders are all committed by Balkan to retrieve all the books for himself, so that he can perform the rite.

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    Do you have any links or references to back this up? Or maybe better (more in depth) analysis of why you think this? Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 17:24
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    If Liana Tefler didn't kill them, then the only other explanation I can find is that Balkan is the killer. After all he was following Corso.
    – memnonila
    Commented Dec 30, 2013 at 9:57
  • It makes sense, he was the one looking to collect the nine engravings, he was the one who had them (or what he thought were them) in the end. He killed anyone he perceived as a threat or an obstacle, including Telfer onscreen.
    – user8391
    Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 20:52
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    The book has a second plot involving the verification of the authenticity of a chapter of the manuscript of the Three Musketeers (hence the novel's name "The Club Dumas"), but the crimes in the parts of the novel that were used for the film were committed by (or at the behest of) Balkan. Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 13:51

Balkan killed the two other book owners because he wanted all the engravings and he had possession of them at the end. Telfer's henchman killed Bernie looking for her copy back, he followed Corso to the book shop. Bernie was tortured but did not give up the location because it was still there when Corso found him. Balkan had no motive to kill Bernie, but Telfer did. Another theory could be that the “Girl” killed Bernie before Telfer’s henchman got to him so that Bernie did not give up the location of the book under torture. The killing of Bernie was done in a symbolic way resembling the Tarot card “The Hanged man” which symbolizes Ultimate sacrifice and surrender. This symbolism is most likely above the head of Telfer’s thug. Bernie was hanging by his right Leg not his Left (as in the LCF version) most likely signifying that his death was a physical sacrifice, not a spiritual one. Only Polanski knows for sure.

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