Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Ring (Japanese version) (4½ Stars)

Although I've already seen both versions of "The Ring", the original and the American remake, this is the first time I've watched them soon after one another. It gives me a better chance to compare them. It's also confirmed my opinion that the American version is better.

The films follow a similar plot. One is set in Japan, the other in America, so the names and places have been changed, but it's obvious who represents who. Reiko is Rachel, Ryuji is Noah, Yoichi is Aidan, etc. Some changes in detail were necessitated by the change of country. In the original film there was reference to a volcanic eruption on a Japanese island. Since there are no volcanoes anywhere near the American coast this disaster was replaced by a mysterious plague that killed all the horses on an island. One significant change which is (maybe) unnecessary is that in the original Reiko's husband has psychic ablities, but in the remake it's her son who has a psychic link to the ghost.

Most of the differences are in the story-telling. The American version explains things that were left vague in the Japanese original. For instance, if you only watch the Japanese version it's impossible to guess why the film is called "Ring" at all. It was explained in the 1991 novel by Koji Suzuki, on which the film is based, but the film chose not to reveal it. The American remake uses the information from the novel and makes everything clear. Overall, the American film makes more sense. In the original the phone only sometimes rings after a person has watched the video, in the remake the phone rings every time. That's scarier, and it's more logical.

Fans of the original claim that it's better because it has a creepier atmosphere. Maybe it does. There's little difference in atmosphere between the two. But the American remake is more logical and it tells a better story, so for me it's the better film.

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