(2002) dir. Gore Verbinski
I had seen the Japanese original of this film, Ringu (1998), a couple of years ago on video, not knowing a whole lot about it. The new American version, The Ring, takes the original story pretty much to the letter. An eerie video (film) turns up that exacts the death of its viewers seven days after they have seen it. The film’s conceit is highly self-reflexive, mortal terror arising from watching a scary movie. In some ways, perhaps watching the film on video has the most compelling effect with the implied positioning of the viewer in the literal experience as the characters in the film.
It seemed as though there was more explication in the American adaptation. I can’t say that I remember a lot of specifics about the narrative from Ringu, so I may have just forgotten or lost it in the translation. I did find the ending on the original more effective. The fact that the only way that the woman can save her child is by essentially condemning someone else to death was more implied than explicit in the original. The final image from Ringu of the car driving fast up a long, isolated road represented the characters metaphoically and was more striking than the explanatory conversation that Naomi Watts has with her son in the editing room at the end of The Ring, for instance. This same sensibility is true for much of the narrative, between original and re-make.
The one big thing that the original has over the re-make is simply that…it is original. The story and set-up are what makes these films strong, not just the execution.