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Ring (film)

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This article is about the 1998 Japanese horror film. For other uses, see Ring (disambiguation).
"Towel-Headed Man" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Towelhead.


Japanese theatrical release poster

Japanese リング

Hepburn Ringu

Directed by Hideo Nakata

 Shinya Kawai
Produced by
 Takenori Sento[1]

Screenplay by Hiroshi Takahashi[1]

Based on Ring
by Koji Suzuki
Starring  Nanako Matsushima
 Hiroyuki Sanada
 Rikiya Ōtaka
 Yoichi Numata

Music by Kenji Kawai[1]

Cinematography Jun'ichirō Hayashi[1]

Edited by Nobuyuki Takahashi[1]

Production Ringu/Rasen Production Committee[1]


Distributed by Toho

Release date  January 31, 1998 (Japan)

Running time 95 minutes[1]

Country Japan

Language Japanese

Box office ¥1 billion (Japan)[2]

Ring (リング Ringu) is a 1998 Japanese horror film directed by Hideo Nakata, based on the 1991
novel by Kôji Suzuki. The film stars Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada and Rikiya Ōtaka, and
follows a reporter who is racing to investigate the mystery behind a cursed videotape that kills the
viewer seven days after watching it.
Production took approximately nine months.[3] Ring and its sequel Rasen were released in Japan at
the same time. After its release, Ring was a huge box office success in Japan and was acclaimed by
critics. It inspired numerous follow-ups within the Ring franchise and triggered a trend of
Western remakes, starting with the 2002 American film The Ring.


 1Plot
 2Themes
 3Cast
 4Production
 5Release
o 5.1Home media
 6Reception
 7Influence
o 7.1Influence on Western cinema
 8Sequels and remake
 9See also
 10Notes
o 10.1References
 11External links

Two high schoolers, Masami and Tomoko, talk about a videotape that was allegedly recorded
in Izu and also bears a curse that kills the viewer in one week. Tomoko reveals that a week ago, she
and three of her friends watched a strange tape and received a call after watching. Tomoko goes
downstairs and witnesses her TV turn on by itself. She later hears startling noises and turns around,
only to be killed by an unseen force.
At Tomoko's funeral, her aunt Reiko Asakawa, a reporter investigating the popularity of the cursed
video, discovers that three of her friends also died on the same night, with their faces twisted in fear.
Looking through Tomoko's photos, Reiko finds that the four teenagers stayed in a rental cabin in Izu.
Reiko arrives at the cabin in Izu and finds an unlabeled tape in the reception room. The tape shows
a series of seemingly unrelated and disturbing images. As the tape ends, she sees a mysterious
reflection in the television and receives a phone call. However, there are only screeching sounds
from the tape. Fearing that her days are now numbered, Reiko quickly leaves the cabin with the
Her ex-husband, Ryūji Takayama is soon enlisted to investigate the tape's origin. Despite Reiko's
objections, Ryūji watches the tape and tells her to make him a copy. They find a hidden message
embedded within the tape saying "frolic in brine, goblins be thine". The message is in form of a
dialect from Izu Ōshima Island. That night, Reiko catches her young son Yoichi watching the
videotape. He says the ghost of Tomoko ordered him to do so.
Reiko and Ryūji sail for Ōshima and discover the history of the great psychic Shizuko Yamamura.
They stay in an inn run by Takashi, Shizuko's brother. Ryūji discovers that Takashi exposed Shizuko
to the media, hoping to make money from the situation. The media attention attracted Dr. Heihachiro
Ikuma, who, besides researching ESP, had an affair with Shizuko. Dr. Ikuma held a demonstration,
where Shizuko successfully displayed her psychic abilities. However, one journalist spitefully
denounced her as a fraud, inciting his other colleagues to do the same. In retaliation, Shizuko's
daughter, Sadako, psychokinetically killed the journalist, with his face twisted like Tomoko's and her
friends'. Shortly after, a series of slanderous reports drove Shizuko to commit suicide. Meanwhile,
Dr. Ikuma was fired and took Sadako to an unknown location.
Reiko and Ryūji deduce that Sadako psionically created the cursed videotape to express her fury
against the world. After an epiphany, the two go back to Izu and uncover a well underneath the
cabin. Through a vision, they discover that Dr. Ikuma murdered Sadako and threw her body into the
well. They try to find Sadako's body in an attempt to appease her spirit. Minutes before her seven
days are up, Reiko finds Sadako's corpse, and they return home, relieved that the curse is broken.
The next day, when Ryūji is at home, his TV switches on by itself and shows the image of a well.
The vengeful ghost of Sadako crawls out of the well, out of Ryūji's TV set and kills him. Before dying,
he manages to dial Reiko's number; she hears his last minutes over the phone and finds out only
she is free from the curse. Reiko realizes that copying the tape and showing it to someone else
saved her. With a VCR, Reiko drives to her father's house, where she plans to let her son copy the
tape and show it to her father.

Critics have discussed Ring’s preoccupations with Japanese tradition’s collision with modernity.
Colette Balmain identifies, “In the figure of Sadako, Ring [utilises the] vengeful yūrei archetype of
conventional Japanese horror”. She argues how this traditional Japanese figure is expressed via a
videotape which “embodies contemporary anxieties, in that it is technology through which the
repressed past reasserts itself”.[4]
Ruth Goldberg argues that Ring expresses "ambivalence about motherhood”. She reads Reiko as a
mother who – due to the new potential for women's independence – neglects her 'natural' role as
martyred homemaker in pursuit of an independent identity, subsequently neglecting her child.
Goldberg identifies a doubling effect whereby the unconscious conflicts of Reiko's family are
expressed via the supernatural in the other family under Reiko's investigation.[5]
Jay McRoy reads the ending hopefully: if the characters therapeutically understand their conflicts,
they can live on.[6] Balmain, however, is not optimistic; she reads the replication of the video as
technology spreading, virus-like, throughout Japan.[4]

 Nanako Matsushima as Reiko Asakawa, a journalist who investigates her niece's death and
finds the cursed videotape.
 Hiroyuki Sanada as Ryūji Takayama, Reiko's ex-husband, a former medical student turned
university professor. He has a degree of sixth sense that detects supernatural auras.
 Rikiya Ōtaka as Yōichi Asakawa, Reiko's young son who also has a sixth sense like his father.
 Miki Nakatani as Mai Takano, Ryuji's student.
 Yūko Takeuchi as Tomoko Ōishi, Reiko's niece who watches the cursed videotape and is
amongst its first victims.
 Hitomi Satō as Masami Kurahashi, Tomoko's best friend.
 Daisuke Ban as Dr. Heihachiro Ikuma, Sadako's father who threw her down a well.
 Rie Inō as Sadako Yamamura, a girl with psychic powers who was thrown down a well where
she died; her spirit lived on within a videotape.
 Masako as Shizuko Yamamura, Sadako's mother. She too had psychic powers but a disastrous
press demonstration led to her suicide.
 Yōichi Numata as Takashi Yamamura, Sadako's uncle who runs an inn on Oshima Island.
 Yutaka Matsushige as Yoshino, a journalist associate of Reiko.
 Katsumi Muramatsu as Kōichi Asakawa, Reiko's father.

This section needs expansion. You
can help by adding to it. (November

After the moderate success of the Ring novel, written by Kōji Suzuki and published in 1991,
publisher Kadokawa Shoten decided to make a motion picture adaptation of Ring.
Screenwriter Hiroshi Takahashi and director Hideo Nakata collaborated to work on the script after
reading Suzuki's novel and watching Ring: Kanzenban, Fuji Television Network's 1995 made-for-TV
film, directed by Chisui Takigawa.[7] However, the TV version was re-edited and released on VHS
under a new title, Ring: Kanzenban (Ring: The Complete Edition).[7] Nakata did not state which TV
version he and Takahashi watched.
In their film script, Takashi and Nakata changed the protagonist's gender (from male to female),
name (from Kazuyuki Asakawa to Reiko Asakawa), marital status (from married to divorced) and
child's gender and name (from daughter Yoko to son Yoichi).[7]
With the budget of US$1.2 million, the entire production took nine months and one week. According
to director Nakata, the script and pre-production process took three or four months, shooting five
weeks and post-production four months.[3]
The special effects on the cursed videotape and some parts in the film were shot on a 35 mm film
which was passed on in a laboratory in which a computer added a 'grainy' effect.[3] Extended visual
effects were used in the part in which the ghost of Sadako Yamamura climbs out of the television.
First, they shot the Kabuki Theater actress Rie Ino'o walking backwards in a jerky, exaggerated
motion. They then played the film in reverse to portray an unnatural-looking walk for Sadako.[8]

Ring was released in Japan on January 31, 1998 where it was distributed by Toho.[1] Upon release in
Japan, Ring became the highest grossing horror film in the country.[9] The film was shown at the
1999 Fantasia Film Festival where it won the first place award for Best Feature in the Asian films
Variety stated that Ring's "most notable success" has been in Hong Kong, where it became the
biggest grosser during the first half of the year, beating popular American films such as The
Matrix.[11] On its 1999 Hong Kong release, Ring earned HK$31.2 million (US$4.03 million) during its
two-month theatrical run making it Hong Kong's highest-grossing Japanese-language film.[12] This
record was later beaten by Stand By Me Doraemon in 2015.[12]
Home media[edit]
The Ring was released directly to home video in the United States by DreamWorks with English
subtitles on March 4, 2003.[1]
To coincide with its 20th anniversary, Arrow Films issued a Blu-ray version of Ring on March 18,
2019 in the UK. Additionally, a Blu-ray box set featuring Ring, the sequels Rasen and Ring 2, and
prequel Ring 0, was also released. The transfer features a 4K resolution restoration that was
scanned from the film's original camera negative. The picture grading and restoration, which took
place at Imagica Labs in Tokyo, was supervised and approved by Ring cinematographer Jun'ichirō
Hayashi.[13] A US release of both Arrow's Blu-Ray restoration and the Blu-ray box set is scheduled for
October 29, 2019.[14]

This section needs expansion. You
can help by adding to it. (November

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 97 percent
based on 38 reviews, and a weighted average of 7.58 out of 10. The website's "Critics Consensus"
is that the film "combines supernatural elements with anxieties about modern technology in a truly
frightening and unnerving way."[15]
Sight & Sound critic Mark Kermode praised the film's "timeless terror," with its "combination of old
folk devils and contemporary moral panics" which appeal to both teen and adult audiences
alike.[9] While Adam Smith of Empire Online finds the film "throttled by its over complexity, duff
plotting and a distinct lack of actual action,"[16] Kermode emphasizes that "one is inclined to conclude
that it is the telling, rather than the content of the tale, that is all-important."[9] Variety agrees that the
slow pace, with "its gradual evocation of evil lying await beneath the surface of normality," is one of
the film's biggest strengths.[17] Ring has been described as the most frightening film of all time by
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian's film critic.[18] Ring is also listed as the twelfth best horror film of all
time by The Guardian.[19]
Ring was ranked No. 69 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" in 2010.[20] In
the early 2010s, Time Out conducted a poll with several authors, directors, actors and critics who
have worked within the horror genre to vote for their top horror films.[21] Ring placed at number 61 on
their top 100 list.[22]

The international success of the Japanese films launched a revival of horror filmmaking in Japan that
resulted in such pictures as Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 2001 film Pulse (known as Circuit (回路 Kairo) in
Japan), Takashi Shimizu's The Grudge (呪怨 Juon) (2000), Hideo Nakata's Dark Water (仄暗い水の
底から Honogurai mizu no soko kara, literally From the Depths of Dark Water), also based on a
short story by Suzuki), and Higuchinsky's Uzumaki (2000, a.k.a. Vortex, based on the Junji
Itō horror manga of the same name).[citation needed]
Influence on Western cinema[edit]
Ring had some influence on Western cinema and gained cult status in the West.[23]
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Hollywood horror had largely been dominated by
the slasher subgenre, which relied on on-screen violence, shock tactics, and gore.[23] Ring, whose
release in Japan roughly coincided with The Blair Witch Project in the United States, helped to
revitalize the genre by taking a more restrained approach to horror, leaving much of the terror to the
audience's imagination.[23] The film initiated global interest in Japanese cinema in general
and Japanese horror cinema in particular, a renaissance which led to the coining of the term J-
Horror in the West. This "New Asian Horror"[4] resulted in further successful releases, such as Ju-on:
The Grudge and Dark Water.[6] In addition to Japanese productions this boom also managed to bring
attention to similar films made in other East Asian nations at the same time such as Korea (A Tale of
Two Sisters) and Hong Kong (The Eye).
All of these films would later be remade in the U.S. Released in 2002, The Ring reached number 1
at the box office and grossed more in Japan than the original.[4]

Sequels and remake[edit]

The original sequel was Rasen, however, due to poor reception, a new sequel, Ring 2, was released
in 1999 which continued the storyline of this film. Then, it was followed by a 2000 prequel, Ring 0:
Birthday. A TV series, Ring: The Final Chapter, was made, with a similar storyline but many changes
in characters and their backstories. An American remake was made, The Ring (2002).