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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Ringu can be found here.
Yes. Ringu is based on a 1991 horror novel by Japanese writer K˘ji Suzuki. It is the first novel in the four book Ringu series, followed by Rasen (Spiral) (1995), Rupu (Loop) (1998), and The Birthday (1999). Sequels to the movie include: Rasen (1998) (aka Ring 4: The Spiral), Ringu 2 (1999), and Ringu 0: Bâsudei (2000) (aka Ringu: The Birthday), actually a prequel to Ringu.There are also a series of mangas based on the Ringu series. The movie was remade in English as The Ring (2002).
In part. The inspiration for Suzuki's works of fiction come from the real world case of Sadako Takahashi, a woman who claimed to have developed both clairvoyance and thought-projection (nensha) through breathing and mental exercises. She was studied extensively in 1913 by Tomokichi Fukurai, an assistant professor of psychology at Tokyo University, who eventually wrote about her in a book called Tshi to Nensha, published in English as Clairvoyance and Thoughtography in 1931 (reprinted 2003).
Ringu tells the story of a cursed videotape. Rumor has it that anyone who watches it will receive a phone call just seconds after the tape ends and that the viewer will die in one week. The mysterious deaths of four friends one week after watching the tape seems to confirm the rumors. After 6-year old Y˘ichi Asakawa (Rikiya Ôtaka) loses his cousin Tomoko (Yûko Takeuchi) to the curse, his mother Reiko (Nanako Matsushima), an investigative reporter, decides to follow up on the story. Things get complicated when Reiko discovers Y˘ichi watching the cursed tape, so she and her ex-husband Ryuji Takayama (Hiroyuki Sanada), Y˘ichi's father, try to find the source of the tape in order to prevent Y˘ichi from being a victim of the curse.
Yes. About 28 minutes into the movie, Reiko's leads take her to the Izu Peninsula where Tomoko and her four friends stayed in Cabin 4B and watched the videotape. Reiko rents the same cabin and watches the tape. It's a short set of random images, such as a woman brushing her hair in a mirror, the word 'eruption' (written in Japanese kanji), people crawling up a hill, a person with a cloth or towel over his head, an eye, a well, and a lot of static snow. After watching the tape, Reiko does receive a phone call, but the caller doesn't speak.
Seven. Tomoko, her boyfriend, and two other friends are the first to watch the tape. Seven days later, all four of them die. Reiko finds the tape and watches it in the cabin on the Izu Peninsula, then takes it home and shows it to Ryuji, Y˘ichi's father. Several days later, Reiko finds Y˘ichi watching the tape.
The official cause of death is a heart attack. After telling her friend Masami (Hitomi Satô) about the tape that she and her boyfriend watched in the cabin on the Izu Peninsula, Tomoko stayed in the kitchen while Masami went upstairs to the bathroom. Tomoko was suddenly aware of a TV turning on in another room and went in to turn it off. Moments later she was scared to death by something. Whatever scared Tomoko was so horrific that Masami was driven insane and taken to a mental hospital. It is later revealed, after Reiko does some investigating, that suspicion falls on Sadako Yamamura (Rie Ino'o), a young girl with strong psychic abilities who has been dead for 40 years.
When Reiko goes to speak with Tomoko's mother (her aunt), she finds a photo development receipt and retrieves the photos. The photos show that Tomoko and her friends' faces were all distorted. Later, when Reiko tries to convince Ryuji about the curse, she has him take a photo of her. It shows Reiko's face is distorted, too.
Just how Sadako created the tape is not explained. In the English remake, it is credited to nensha, also known as projected thermography or the ability to imprint thought images like photographs onto specific surfaces. However, in Ringu, it is given only that she was able to make the tape when a young boy staying in cabin 4B on the Izu Peninsula tried to videotape a baseball game before going out to play. Unfortunately, there was no reception on that channel, so nothing got taped. Seizing her chance, Sadako (whose remains and spirit were trapped in the well beneath the cabin) used her powers to imprint various images onto the tape. She also incorporated a curse: either copy the tape and pass it on or suffer your own death in seven days. As Reiko uncovers more about Sadako, she learns that both Sadako and her mother Shizuko (Masako) were feared and despised by the people on Oshama Island because of their psychic abilities. Shizuko eventually threw herself into Mt Miharayama, an active volcano. Sadako and her father, Dr Heihachir˘ Ikuma (Daisuke Ban) disappeared. It is concluded by most viewers that Sadako kills out of wrath. She wants the truth told about what happened to her and the entire world to pay for her mistreatment. In Ringu 0: BÔsudei, the prequel to Ringu and Ringu 2, further insight is provided.
Most viewers conclude that it has to do with the distance from cabin 4B. Reiko watched the tape and received the phone call while in the cabin on the Iku Peninsula, but both Ryuji and Y˘ichi were back in Tokyo.
Reiko and Ryuji locate the well under Cabin B4. Ryuji climbs down into it and starts sending up buckets of water for Reiko to empty, until she can no longer lift the heavy pails. They switch places, Reiko going into the well and Ryuji pulling up the buckets. Meanwhile, the time is getting closer and closer to 7pm. If the curse is true, Reiko will die between 7:00 and 7:10. Suddenly Reiko grasps a handful of hair and pulls Sadako's body from the bottom of the well. 7:10 comes and goes without harm to Reiko. Having found Sadako's body and broken the curse, Ryuji takes Reiko home to her apartment then goes to his place to work on his essay. As he is writing, the TV set suddenly lights up, showing an image of the well where Sadako was buried. Sadako starts climbing out of the well, slowly walking toward Ryuji. She climbs out of the TV and continues advancing on him until Ryuji dies of a heart attack. Not being able to reach Ryuji by phone, Reiko goes to his apartment, only to find that the police have taken away his body. Reiko fetches the tape from Ryuji's machine, all the while wondering why she isn't dead. 'What did I do that you didn't?' she asks herself, until she suddenly realizes that she made a copy of her tape for Ryuji to watch. In the final scene, she heads back to her father's house with the tapes and a VCR, realizing that this is a never-ending cycle: The tape must always be copied and passed on to ensure the survival of the viewers.
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