Monday, June 1, 2020

The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows

Every time I watch Roman Polanski's "The Ninth Gate," I find myself more and more fascinated by the lore behind the main plot device in the film.  That device is "De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis" or better known as  "The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows.." Like other fictional grimoires, I find this one especially intriguing.  Woodcuts within are devious and yet tend to hold one's attention.  I decided that I had to have this book in my collection.

I looked around the internet and prices range from $40 to $400 depending on the quality that you may be looking for. I looked both on Etsy and on eBay. After doing a general Google search, I found one result that caught my eye.  That result was from an online, on-demand bookseller. Weighing the options, I decided to purchase it there.  Here is a link in case you wish to check it out. 

Get The Ninth Gate BlueRay (Affiliate Link)

While no means a faithful weathered copy of the film prop. I decided that this would still be a nice addition.

Unboxing the devilish book.

What makes this book so notorious?  Throughout the film, "The Ninth Gate," Roman Polanski, sets the film up by introducing us to the main character Dean Corso. Played by Johnny Depp, one might say that he is the protagonist, however, I leave that title for his character is reserved as the jury is still out.  

Dean Corso is a book buyer, seller, and authenticator.  He is summoned by Boris Balkan who is fiendishly played by actor Frank Langella ("Dracula," "Lolita"). He wants Corso, to "authenticate" his copy of the "The Nine Gates of the Kingdom of Shadows.." It is at this point that Corso reveals his knowledge of this book which is a surprise to Balkin. Corso, "Sure. Venice, 1623. The author and printer was Aristide 
Torchia, burned by the Holy Inquisition, together with all his works. Only three copies survived."  Thus signaling that the book must be evil as it's author must be evil.
However, Balkin believes that only one copy is real.  

Thus. Dean Corso sets out on his quest.  The first person on his list to interview is the widow of the former owner. Liana Telfer, a young woman in her mid 30's oozing sexuality,
in comparison to her husband Andrew Telfer who must have been at least twice her age. 
Who quietly wrote a letter and hung himself on in his study a few weeks before, which takes place at the beginning of the film. She seems to be a bit surprised that her husband has sold the book. After some pleasantries, they get down to business. Of course, she wants to know who owns the book currently. She mentioned that her husband bought the book in Spain while they were on vacation.  While Depp's character didn't get all the information he was looking for, he did realize that there was something that Telfer was hiding. This would not be the last time the two meet. 

Conducting the next part of his research takes place at the library, which is where Corso gets a glimpse of the mysterious Green Eyed Girl. Like a subtle case of Deja Vu, she is there, and then she is not. Unnerving he continues consulting the arcane tomes until it is late at night.  Arriving home only to find it ransacked, he decides that something evil is afoot. 

Death will soon follow. At this point, Corso is sure that the book means trouble and it needs to be kept safe.  He decides to hide it with his book broker (fence?). 

Once again Corso encounters Telfer, she shows up at his place and promptly seduces him.  She wants the book. This scene alone is hilarious and one of the few times that humor is injected into this serious dark film.  Certainly, a scene to look for when watching this film.

Bernie is killed apparently for the book, but it was well hidden. 

This film plays out much like a detective novel. Corso is the sleuth, yet he already seems sets up to fail. Much of this film takes place in Europe as Polanski is unable to come to the United States due to his statutory rape conviction. 

 "Books of this type often contain little puzzles."

The Book
In Toledo. Spain, Corso meets the Ceniza twin brothers, who clue him on the mysteries of the book and more importantly, the woodcuts in the book. As Pablo, one of the brothers, says, "Books of this type often contain little puzzles."

Like the woodcut reproductions in the version, the books are signed either by the original author and printer, Aristide Torchia, or by his supposed co-author Lucifer. This was notated by the initial "LCF."

Corso also finds out, contrary to Liana Telfer's insistence that it was her husband's favorite book, that it was actually she who wanted it. Now he understands the fierceness in her eyes when she attacked him after the seduction back in his apartment.

The book that this film is based on "The Club Dumas," written in 1993 by Spanish novelist Arturo Pérez-Reverte. His book is very detailed and has a lot to do with the French writer Alexandre Dumas (of the "Three Musketeers," "The Corsican Brothers," and "The Count of Monte Cristo Cristo" fame). Corso's search for  De Umbrarum Regni Novem Portis ("Of the Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows").takes him to  Madrid (Spain), Sintra (Portugal), Paris (France) and Toledo (Spain).

Let me know what you think of the film, the Lulu book and, or my video on the subject.

Movie Data

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Horror
Year:   1999
Starring:  Johnny Depp, Lena Olin, Frank Langella, Emmanuelle Seigner
Director:  Roman Polanski
Producer(s)  Roman Polanski
Writer(s):  Arturo Pérez-Reverte, John Brownjohn, Enrique Urbizu, and Roman Polanski

Rating:  R

Monday, May 25, 2020

Mandalorian Beskar Steel

Back in the 1980s, no one, not even George Lucas, would have imagined that the character of Boba Fett, let alone the Mandalorians whose armor he wore, would become as popular as he is now 40 years later. Actor and direct Jon Favreau have produced for Disney, whom George Lucas sold his company to has developed a new popular series that only can be seen on Disney's streaming channel.  That series is "The Mandalorian."  Consider the lone gunman traveling from town to town in the United State's old west, and you have the basis for the show. Think of Clint Eastwood in any of Sergio Leone's Italian westerns where Eastwood's character has no name and neither addressed nor introduce. Only speaking when necessary and who is intelligent and quick with his revolver.

eLike the "Man with no name," "The Mandalorian" is a reluctant hero. He doesn't go looking for people to help. No, he is just looking for the next bounty.  As he like other Mandalorians, he is a bounty hunter. Not necessarily the most honorable of professions, but it's a living. Not to spoil the show if you have not seen it yet, I will just say that Favreau creates a mysterious character, but it is also a character that one can actually get to know and understand.

Now on to the "Beskar" or Mandalorian Steel. Supposedly Beskar has a high tolerance to extreme forms of damage. Like the Man of Steel, Bskar can withstand a direct blaster shot and can deflect a lightsaber hit, or in other words, it is the most durable material that exists.  It was so strong, that it is used to make their recognizable armor.

When I decided that I wanted something from "The Mandalorian" series, I tend to start small and work my way up to more elaborate and more expensive props or costumes. My search for Beskar Steel gave me over 135,000 results. I initially purchased a resin Beskar ingot, which is an excellent looking prop. But after that, I also decided that I wanted something a bit more substantive.

I found prices for ingots ranging from $12 to 110 dollars.  I eventually found an artisan on Etsy that had ingots that seem to be around the correct size and thickness.  Now in comparison to the resin ingot that I had purchased, I did notice that there was a difference in on the back.  Whereas the resin version has two cutouts on the back top portion.


As far as the Mandalorian Disney Plus series goes: I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Not a superhero character in the least, he is the character that we can relate with. Although his character arc is not new.  A mercenary loner who decides to fight for what is right. I'm thinking Pale Rider, and The Good the Bad and the Ugly motif. I am looking forward to the second season.

Thanks for taking a look at this article and please subscribe to my YouTube channels and most importantly, please take care of yourself.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Indiana Jones Satchel Bag Unboxing

I am starting my Indiana Jones collection.  The collection will comprise of both costuming, gear, and props.  As a young adult in the 1980s, I found the intrepid archeologist not only intriguing but with a look that was inspiring.  To start off the collection I decided to start small.  Although present in all of the films, it is usually obscured by the jacket or the whip. I am talking about Indiana Jones' satchel bag.

While the first three Indiana Jones films take place in the 1930s, the bag that he carries and uses to carry his treasures was actually a WWII surplus gas mak bag.  More specifically it was the British MKVII bag.  There were actually a few manufacturers of the bag usually in green canvas but sometimes in white or yellow.  During the war, both the infantry and the police wore this mask.  

Most of what one sees when looking at Indiana Jones is the leather strap over his shirt but the bag in many shots the bag is under the jacket. However, in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, Professor Jones wears it over the jacket.

The bag comes with a canvas strap, which is usually the same color as the bag, however, in the film, it was replaced with a leather rifle strap.  You can order the bag with or without the strap.  Mine cost me an extra $12. Once the package is opened, you will need to cut off the canvas strap and replace it with the leather one.  There is a slight trick to getting the right look to it.

After removing the Chicago screw on the end that has the loop, run that part through the left side of the metal ring, and then through the strap buckle.  Give yourself some room for adjustment (about 18 inches depending on how tall you are) and then with the secure the strap loop onto the other metal ring by replacing the screws.  Once you have it on, you can make further adjustments to the strap.  Just make sure that the strap goes from right to left and the buckle should be right about your sternum.

Here is a demo on how to do this in the video below.


While I buy my own products with my own funds, here is a link to What Price Glory's website and to the actual bag that I bought.  I ordered this right as the pandemic was realized and this still came in about a week.

Thank you for looking and please subscribe to my YouTube channel.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Han Solo Vest Unboxing - Todd's Costumes

As a young teen in 1977, I saw "Star Wars" (now called "Episode IV: A New Hope"), and as I have written before, it changed the way I saw my life. As a kid,  my passions gravitated towards the filmmaking process.  I loved the characters and could understand the archetypes that they represented.

Much later in life, I decided I wanted to revisit my youth and my passion for film.  I wrote reviews of movies that I saw, and as always, life happens. The Star Wars Costumes that I desired were usually quite bulky and hot.  I live in the desert, and when we do have comic cons or film fests, I decided I did not want to sweat for hours and not really enjoy the convention.  So I decided I want to wear something a bit more comfortable.

So recently, I decided it was time to start creating or assembly costumes that are more comfortable but yet very recognizable to everyone attending.

I have chosen the Han Solo "look," and I was able to get a sharp-looking vest (shirt is on its way). I looked around the internet and was looking at the cheap Halloween costumes that are usually made very cheaply and fall apart after time.

Instead, I decided to go with Todd's Costumes. I was lucky, as, at the time, the vest and shirt were available as a set.  At this time, you can preorder if you so desire.  The cost was $199.00 without tax and shipping.

One thing to note about the vest is that there many pockets and loops on the screen vest. Both on the back (above) and on the front below.

The vest I purchased (shirt coming in a future video and blog post has the requisite pockets based on 1977's "A New Hope."

On the front right side of the vest, the configuration of the pocket shows the upper right pocket with an angular side pocket

The vest has a nice silky inside material that a quality vest should have. And the outside is the thickness of a coat.

While the pockets are real they do have that stitch that doesn't allow for the to open unless you cut the thread.

I ordered the vest and shirt in 2XL and I think it fits just fine.

I am not an affiliate of Todd's, however, I am supplying a link to the shirt vest combo

Let me know what you think. 

And thanks for taking a view.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Welcome - A Constantly Racing Mind Youtube Channel

Lately, I have been deep in contemplation. you know, the usual things. Life, Death, Immortality. I haven't posted a review in quite a while yet my mind is constantly thinking about films, books, movies, and TV props, and costumes. I have been watching a lot of Great Courses.  As I was watching I starting thinking about some of the props from historical movies. Or movies somewhat based on historical films.

Talking it over with my wonderful wife, we decided that I would start a Youtube channel.  A Constantly Racing Mind explores the history and philosophy behind films.  We explore props, the storylines, the costumes, and how they relate to us with an eye on history, literature, the media, and current events.

I will still post to this platform as I really want to go more in-depth in many of the subjects covered

And... As this is May the Fourth, Here is a link to the video.

Take care,
Stay safe,
and Happy May the 4th!