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There are now three distinct versions of Hideo Nakata's Ring available with English subtitles: the Tartan Region 0 PAL release from 2001 (referred to on the screen shots as "old Tartan"); the Region 1 Dreamworks NTSC transfer released in 2003 ("Dreamworks"); and the digitally remastered R2 PAL Tartan disc in the 2004 Ring collector's edition boxset ("new Tartan"). This page sets out to compare the picture quality of each - we'd do the sound except Apple Towers is not yet equipped with surround sound.
What we haven't included are the Australian and Japanese releases. The Australian disc is, we think, the same as the 2001 R0 Tartan disc; and the Japanese disc doesn't have subtitles.
Please note: all these images are uncropped and not manipulated in any way. All we've done is shrink down the size a bit. They are all exported at the same jpg compression rate.
Snowblood Apple Verdict
It's a bit of a tough call in places, but overall I'd plump for the Dreamworks disc every time. While it can be a little brown in places, the quality of the transfer and (presumably) better bitrate wins over. However, it doesn't have a DTS track, just a Dolby 5.1, while the new Tartan transfer has both. The old Tartan transfer is now just not worth the money. I'm guessing as well on this, but the new Tartan version has a definite NTSC-to-PAL conversion ghosting effect, which suggests it comes from an NTSC transfer.
Looking at the original Tartan disc, it appears to have been cropped at the edges a little. The new Tartan version suffers from this less, though the Dreamworks version has the most complete picture of the three.
Each has a slightly different translation - though the best translation we've seen is the one broadcast on Film Four in the UK a while back. If you're a fan of "frolic in brine, goblins be thine" on the original Tartan disc, be warned: it's not there on the new Tartan disc, replaced with the rather impenetrable and a lot less prosaic "if you keep on doing Shomon, Bokon will come". Heresy! (And rather inexplicable heresy at that... ¿Que, Meester Fawlty?)
One advantage of the new Tartan set is that it comes with all three movies in the trilogy remastered, as well as Nakata's 2000 movie Sleeping Bride. It remains to be seen if Dreamworks will turn their attentions to the other movies in the series.
Old Tartan: 4/10
Dreamworks: 9/10 (less one for no DTS track)
New Tartan: 8/10 (quite grainy in places, and the blue cast returns sometimes)
review (c) Alex Apple, 2004. all other text and webdesign (c) 2002,
2003, 2004 M. Apple Collingridge, A. Collingridge, Larry D Burns.
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