Death, damnation, revenge: the meaning of the thriller “The Ring”
Genre: horror, thriller, detective
Year of production: 2002
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Actors: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman
tagline: “Before you die, you’ll hear the bell”
Awards and nominations: In 2003, the film won the Saturn Award in the Best Horror Film category.
The Ring is a cult film with an unusual concept. At one time, he scared a huge number of people and was called the scariest film in the history of cinema.
The point of the film “The Ring” is that some prohibitions must not be violated – this leads to irreparable consequences. But a terrible picture is far from that.
The plot of the movie
A description of the content of the picture should begin with the fact that it is partly based on Suzuki Koji’s novel, The Ring, and partly on its Japanese film adaptation. I mean, it’s a remake.
By the way, the original title of the book is “Ring”, which can be translated as “call” or “call”, but still the correct translation is “Ring”. This is especially noticeable if you look at the names of the sequels – “Spiral” and “Loop”.
Naomi Watts played the lead role of Rachel. Frame from the film.
In the 1990s, a novel that touched on topics well known to anyone who used a VCR caused a stir. The meaning of Suzuki Koji’s book was the inevitability of death: after watching the damned cassette, it was impossible for anyone to escape from it.
In 1998, Hideo Nakata made a film adaptation (very conditional and very arthouse), from which a whole franchise grew. And at the beginning of the 2000s, the cult picture reached the United States.
Both films, both American and Japanese, begin with a conversation between two schoolgirls discussing an urban legend about a cursed video cassette: if you watch it, the phone will immediately ring, and a terrible voice will sound in the receiver – he will say that the one who picked up the phone has to live only seven days.
It turns out that one of the girls watched the damn tape – and exactly a week ago. This means that the schoolgirl does not have long to live. That same evening, the girl died under mysterious circumstances.
Her aunt, journalist Rachel Keller (in the Japanese version, Reiko Asakawa), came to her funeral. Rachel has a son, Aidan, who has psychic abilities (in the Japanese version, ex-husband Reiko has these abilities).
David Dorfman as Aidan, and Naomi Watts. Frame from the film.
At the funeral, the main character learned that on the same day several more teenagers died along with her niece …
In the Japanese version, on her own initiative, and in the American “The Call” at the request of her sister, the heroine begins an investigation. During the search for evidence and clues, the girl found several strange photographs, as well as a hotel in which all the dead teenagers spent time – exactly a week before her death. There, the heroine discovered a strange cassette with no less strange and creepy content. After that, a bell rang in the room – it was enough for Rachel (as well as Reiko) to believe in the legend of the tape.
Realizing that she could not cope on her own, the girl asked her ex-boyfriend, Aidan’s father, Noah, for help (Reiko asks her ex-husband for help).
The young man, who was skeptical about the words of the ex-girlfriend, also decided to watch the tape. The phone rang, but the heroes decided not to pick up the phone.
Soon Noah’s skepticism disappeared – once in the supermarket he saw how his face was distorted in the surveillance camera (Husband Reiko met a ghostly girl). Realizing that his life was in danger, he agreed to help Rachel. After some time, Aidan also watched the damned tape, that is, his timer was started …
After reviewing the tape again, Rachel saw a woman on the tape. After a thorough investigation, she also found her home island. There, the girl learned the tragic and terrible story of the mysterious woman from the tape. In the Japanese version, she was a strong psychic, but amazing – and even mystical – abilities went to her daughter Sadako, who could easily kill a person with her mind.
Martin Henderson as Noah, Naomi Watts as Rachel. Frame from the film.
In the American “Call” the woman on the tape was called Anna Morgan, who had an adopted daughter, Samara, who had strong psychic abilities – she could kill horses and send nightmares to others.
Samara (like Sadako) died under strange circumstances. But before she died, she was somehow able to transfer all her anger to that damn tape.
Rachel managed to find out the circumstances of the girl’s death – her adoptive mother killed her. Anna Morgan pushed her down the well and made it look like an accident. But Samara did not die immediately – she fought for her life for seven days.
Deciding that resting the girl’s body would lift the curse, Rachel decided to bury her. This happened at the end of her allotted week. Confident that the curse no longer exists, Rachel returned home. But the spirit of Samara did not calm down…
Towards the end, a terrible ghost came to Noah and killed him. Rachel returned to the investigation again, and found out that the curse of Samara has the property of a virus. That is, the meaning of all the actions of Samara is the distribution of the record. The heroine was released only because during the investigation she made a copy of the damned tape.
At the end of the film, Rachel helped Aidan make a copy. Reiko did the same in the Japanese version. The boy asked his mother what would happen to the person who watched the tape. Rachel didn’t answer him…
The explanation for the ending is this: Samara did not want rest, but revenge. Moreover, she took revenge not only on her parents who killed her out of fear of her abilities, but on everyone in general – after all, during her lifetime, no one needed her.
The point of the ending of The Ring is that the curse is not broken – only Rachel and Aidan are left safe.
Brian Cox as Richard Morgan. Frame from the film.
The meaning of the film
The correct name of the picture is not “Call”, but still “Ring”. The meaning lies in the luminous ring formed by the rays of the sun – it was he who saw the unfortunate Samara before her eyes closed forever.
At first glance, the essence of the film “The Call” lies on the surface. According to the plot, a terrible curse was transmitted through watching a cassette. People didn’t believe in him, thinking it was just an urban legend. However, not all stories that seem to be fiction turn out to be true. Sometimes you need to heed the warnings and not commit rash acts.
But the film also has a hidden meaning. To understand his idea, you need to know how death is treated in the Western and Eastern world.
In Asian countries, it is treated absolutely calmly, with spiritual clarity. It is conditioned by the doctrine that being is illusory. According to the interpretation of Zen teachings, death is a source of strength, and, coupled with virtues, supernatural power.
For this reason, in the Japanese film adaptation of the novel, the line of struggle was almost completely absent – the point was only to tell the story. That is, the heroes of the original “Call” tried not to beat death, but to find an answer. They wanted to stop evil and accepted death as inevitable – in this, according to Japanese philosophy and culture, there is a certain “chosenness”, and even heroism.
In Western culture, death has long been a taboo. Probably, the source of such an attitude towards it was the numerous epidemics that tormented Europe in the 14-19 centuries. A tradition has taken root to deny death and ignore its approach. But some took risks, and the rest of their lives turned into a macabra. Or, worse, in an attempt to beat death.
This is exactly what Rachel wanted to do – not to understand the root cause as the source of evil, but simply to find a “switch”. Did she succeed? There is no clue because the end of the film is open.
Davey Chase played the role of Samara. Frame from the film.
The second installment in the franchise, Ring 2, was released in 2005.
Summary. Rachel and Aidan, having decided to forget about the horror they endured, move to another city. But the ill-fated cassette also got there – like rock, it pursues a mother and son. In an attempt to save herself and Aidan, Rachel decided to fight back against Samara.
But, in fact, Samara Morgan is not just a vengeful ghost, but infinite evil (the essence of her character and nature is another proof that the title of the Ring franchise is more correct), and it is impossible to resist her …
In the opinion of the audience, this sequel was completely unnecessary: the first “Ring”, in its charming incompleteness, was a completely finished film. The main claim of the audience is the destruction of the concept of the first part.
According to her, Samara is not a universal evil, but an unfortunate child who has never known love – his own mother renounced him, and his adopted one killed him. She took revenge in a childish way … And in the second part, this terrible and tragic image is destroyed, turning into a typical Boogeyman.
Another sequel is Calls (2017).
Seven years have passed since Rachel and Aidan’s encounter with Samara. A certain professor, who became interested in the cassette, decided to investigate a terrible urban legend. The spirit of Samara returned, and the professor himself, as well as the people who faced the vengeful ghost, realized that their lives were in serious danger.
This film was even less needed than the first sequel to The Ring: there is not a single mention of Rachel’s investigation in it, but it talks about Samara. The result is one – a wonderful, unique image collapsed. The same thing happened with Samara Morgan’s story concept – her story was told in the first film. And there was no point in chewing on what remained unsaid consciously.
Here are a few films similar to Verbinski’s The Ring:
- “Curse” (2004, USA). Based on Japanese folklore, the film tells the story of a vengeful ghost – and his curse from which there is no escape;
- “Case No. 39” (2007, USA). Emily adopts a girl named Lilith. The strange behavior of a precocious girl becomes more and more sinister as time goes on;
- “One Missed Call” (Japan, 2003). Several people died around the same time. All of them received a strange message before they died;
- “Dark Water” (USA, 2005). Trying to save her daughter, the main character of the picture makes a deal with a ghost;
- “Uninvited” (USA, Canada, Germany, 2008). While investigating the circumstances of her mother’s death, the heroine is faced with an incarnation of horror;
- “Dark Waters” (Japan, 2001). The heroine and her little daughter live in a gloomy house where a child went missing many years ago;
- “The Story of Two Sisters” (South Korea, 2003). Two sisters, previously treated in a psychiatric hospital, return home and soon realize that something very strange is going on there.