Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch


I just watched the entirety of the American version of The Ring for the first time. At first I thought I would deem it superior to the original Japanese version, but ended up rating them about the same as films. Having said that, there were aspects of the American version that made me prefer it. "Who's that actress?" I asked Kim, thinking that I found her inexplicably alluring. "Naomi Watts," she replied incredulously, making me feel dumb for asking. I'm sure, though, that my misrecognition is part and parcel of a desire I'd rather not recognize. The fact that the Seattle-area setting reminded me of Twin Peaks no doubt contributed to my condition. As I was writing that last sentence I perceived all of a sudden that Mulholland Drive completes the circuit. Pushing things a step further, I also realized that La Otra, the Mexican woman's noir -- Mildred Pierce is another member of the category -- that I saw in L.A. last July, actually provides the conspiracy theorist's ideal intertext for most of David Lynch's oeuvre. And that brought me back to The Ring, which is itself all about reproduction, mechanical or otherwise.

Not that it's a huge revelation or anything, but I kept thinking "Walter Benjamin" throughout the picture. The horror in this film is that the aura doesn't go away as a result of the artifact being copied. There are lots of spooky tales about original, one-of-a-kind texts and objects. The Ring, by contrast, takes the exact opposite tack. The key scene for me is the one where Naomi Watt's ex-lover ponders the fact that the tape lacks the unique code that tells you where it came from. The original is indistinguishable from the copy. That makes its "parentage" impossible to pin down, which is precisely the case with the girl that Richard and Anna Morgan bring back with them after their absence. No one knows where she came from either. It's interesting to note that The Ring also plays, however inadvertently, on another film set in Seattle, one of my favorite horror films ever The Changeling. In that film too, doubling is the central problem.

The deeper I write my way into this entry, the more I recognize that I'm breaking rules I don't normally let myself break in a public forum. But it's fun. What if David Lynch really were troping on The Changeling in Twin Peaks or on La Otra in Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive? Why not sustain the conviction that The Ring is aware of what it's doing when it invokes the specter of mechanical reproduction in conjunction with female characters for whom sexual reproduction is an obvious problem? And, while we're at it, shouldn't we throw in some X-Files storylines for good measure? No, my hermeneutic is not watertight. Sometimes, though, it's leaky arguments that carry the most force.

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