The Uncanny in Japanese and American Horror Film: Hideo Nakata's Ringu and Gore Verbinski's Ring

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Title: The Uncanny in Japanese and American Horror Film: Hideo Nakata's Ringu and Gore Verbinski's Ring
Author: Ball, Sarah McKay
Advisors: Maria Pramaggiore, Committee Chair
John Mertz, Committee Member
Jon Thompson, Committee Member
Abstract: In the last few decades, interest in the uncanny in the body of literary theory has surged. The uncanny is a ubiquitous presence 21st century American and abroad, and it provides a useful metaphor for understanding the implications of some of the conventions of post-modernism. This thesis explores a contemporary definition of the uncanny as manifested through two film interpretations (Ringu and Ring) of the same source material, a novel titled Ringu by Koji Suzuki. Through a brief exploration of the historical evolution of the idea of the uncanny and the various critical cruxes surrounding it, I have developed six working characteristics of the uncanny as a base for my analysis of Ringu and Ring. Furthermore, I have explored the social, historical, and cultural underpinnings of Suzuki's original novel and its path to Japanese and eventually American theatres. Within the narrative of both films, the uncanny is manifested through extended use of the doppelganger and repetition. There is no significant difference in the films' rendering of the uncanny through narrative. The films differ slightly in their presentation of uncanny sound and visual elements: Ringu relies primarily on sound and characters' internal experience to produce the uncanny, whereas Ring focuses on the visual and characters' external experience. The films unify their internal rendering of the uncanny with their metatextual (and commercial) behavior with the gaze, an aspect of both films that implicates the viewer in their propagation of the uncanny and the film franchise. Overall, there is not a significant difference in the rendering of the uncanny in Ring and Ringu. An analysis of both films, however, does illuminate the pervasive, yet complex, presence of the uncanny in contemporary pop culture.
Date: 2006-04-23
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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