Definition of the remake
Film or television remake = a film or television series based on an earlier film or television series.
Linda Hutcheon considers the remake to be a sub-type of adaptation (‘remakes are invariably adaptations because of changes in context’), but a sub-type of adaptation which does not involve ‘a shift of medium or mode of engagement’. Remakes are also a form of intertextuality.
If the original film is an adaptation to begin with, then we are dealing with a triangular or triadic relationship (literary source – original film – remake), but many times the original film is not an adaptation, in which case we are dealing with what Constantine Verevis calls in his book Film Remakes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 2006) a diadic relationship (original film – remake).
The Japanese film Ringu = based on the novel Ring by Kôji Suzuki, who collaborated in an advisory capacity to the script development of both the Japanese adaptation and the American remake.
Rather than being a re-adaptation of the novel, the Hollywood film reworks the Japanese film, but the films are products of two different horror traditions.
The narrative in both films focuses on a female journalist (Reiko in the Japanese version, Rachel in the Hollywood remake) who investigates unsolved cases of people dying seven days after watching a mysterious videotape.
There is a rich tradition in Japanese culture of ghost stories centred around a vengeful female spirit, and the Japanese film situates itself within this tradition.
An additional theme in the films – the fear of technology (technophobia) as the videotape is the means through which the horrific female character manages to make the transition from one realm to another.
Body horror – Sadako/Samara’s physical appearance – the long black hair hiding her facial features, the dripping white clothes, the removed nails, the swollen feet etc. – different details emphasised in the Japanese version and the Hollywood remake.
Sadako/Samara crossing the boundary between the supernatural and the natural world in the two versions (the Japanese original and the US remake) – differences in setting: despite the time of day being similar, the Japanese interior is darker, more sparsely decorated and feels cramped, while in the American version, the interior is more spacious, thus allowing for more possibilities of evasion, encouraging the viewer to hope for an escape for the male protagonist under attack (especially since the interior shots are cross-cut with shots of Rachel (Naomi Watts) rushing to Noah’s apartment); the sequence in its two different treatments relies on different cultural notions of suspense and horror