The usual Chinese title for the original Japanese movie is 午夜凶鈴 which might be transliterated roughly as "Midnight Evil/Bad Ring" where the Chinese word "ring" here is without ambiguity referring specifically to the sound a phone or a bell makes.

I hence always thought "The Ring" referred to the telephone ring.

But in the American remake (see below picture), it seems that "The Ring" refers instead to the halo of light that one sees (from the bottom of a well) when a cover is placed over the well.

My question is this: In the original Japanese version, what was "The Ring" supposed to refer to? The telephone ring? The American interpretation? Or something else?

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The original source for The Ring wasn't actually the Japanese movie, but rather the trilogy of novels written by Koji Suzuki.

There are a few possible interpretations of what the ring is referring to and the ring of the telephone is a logical conclusion - however, in the novels a telephone doesn't appear with a message appearing at the end of the VHS tape instead, warning the viewer of their imminent doom.

Instead, it seems likely The Ring refers to the constantly looping cycle viewers of the tape find themselves in. To quote from the wiki:

Desperate to save her son, Reiko realizes that copying the tape and showing it to someone else saved her. With a VCR and Ryūji's copy of the tape, Reiko travels with her son to see her father in an attempt to save him, realizing that this is a never-ending cycle. The tape must always be copied and passed on to ensure the survival of the viewers.

This explanation makes even more sense when you realise that the first book in the series is called The Ring, with the sequel called Spiral and the final book called Loop - all terms that could be used to describe repeating events.

  • Any reason for downvote? Do please comment so I can improve answer if necessary. – Andrew Martin Jul 28 '14 at 7:40

I read somewhere (how many times have we seen that?) that the author chose the word Ringu from the English word ring because it has a double meaning. A circular shape ... or the alarm made by a telephone.

The title for Ringu used in Spanish-speaking countries is El círculo...

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