Hachi: A Dog's Tale
Distributed by: Stage 6 Films
Reviewed by Natasia Minners
So, the other day my human comes home with a stack of videos. “Natasia,” she says, “I have a movie you’re going to love! It’s called Hachi and it’s about a cute doggie who loves his master!” A DOG?!! Why would I want to watch a movie about a dog?! And why would I want to watch a movie about any animal who is subservient to humans? Utterly absurd! But my human seemed to think I was going to enjoy this film and popped it into the DVD player attached to MY television. And so, this is how I came to watch the movie Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.
The movie begins when Hachi is just a puppy living in another country. He is shipped to the United States and ends up at a train station in the small town of Bedridge where he is accidentally left behind and found by college professor Parker Wilson (Richard Gere). The professor wants to leave the puppy at the train station with the station manager (Jason Alexander) until the owner returns for the dog, but the station manager is reluctant to lock the puppy up in the office overnight and warns Parker that he would only have to turn the dog over to the pound in the morning. So, Parker reluctantly heads home with the puppy knowing it will upset his wife Cate (Joan Allen) who, after the death of their last dog, made an agreement with Parker that they wouldn’t keep another pet.
I hate to admit this, but the little furball is cute, and even though Parker tries to find a new home for Hachi, Cate realizes that a bond has already formed between the puppy and her husband. Witnessing the joy Hachi brings Harper and the sweet disposition of the dog, Cate relents and they decide to make Hachi a part of their family.
Now, as luck would have it, Hachi is an Akita, a dog breed known for their extreme loyalty and Hachi is no exception. His bond with Parker transcends all boundaries. Thus, as soon as Hachi is big enough, he decides that he must accompany Parker to the train station every morning and meet him at 5PM at the train station in the evening when Parker returns home. At first, this is a tad disconcerting for Parker, who attempts to prevent Hachi from leaving the safety of the yard, but after numerous attempts thwarted by Hachi’s intelligence, Parker decides to enjoy this display of loyalty.
Folks working in the area of the train station enjoy Hachi’s antics as well and praise his loyalty, offering him treats, a happy greeting or a pet on the head as he waits faithfully for Parker. When Parker doesn’t return home one evening, Hachi resolves to wait for him at the station all night. Thus begins Hachi’s vigil. Such is Hachi’s loyalty that he has resolved to return to the station day in and day out, no matter how far the distance, to await his favorite human’s arrival.
Okay, I have to admit that my human was right. I enjoyed this movie for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I understand what it’s like to lose a loved one. When my brother died, I was extremely sad and took to searching for him all over the house, calling out to him. In fact, whenever my human mentions his name, my ears perk up and I look to see if he has returned. So, I can understand why Hachi kept returning to the same spot every day waiting for his human to come home. In fact…and if you tell the human this, I’ll deny it…if my human comes home late, I usually curl up in the human’s favorite chair listening for her to come home. Not because I enjoy her company or anything - although her lap is soft and warm - but I worry that she might get lost or forget to come home and feed me and that would be a tragedy.
The other reason I enjoyed the film was that it made my human bawl like a baby. Every time I looked over at her, she was pulling another tissue out of the box and sobbing and saying things like, “I knew this would be sad, but…”. Too funny!! By the time the movie was over, her eyes were so red and swollen she could barely see out of them and she kept sniffling.
After the movie, the human remarked that she was surprised that she had never heard of this movie prior to seeing a preview on another rental. She said that the acting was great and the script was incredibly moving. She said that she liked how the viewer was offered the chance to see things through the dog’s eyes as well as through the eyes of the humans that loved him. She also said that the cinematography and special effects that marked the transition of seasons were very well done. I have no idea what she is talking about, but she is into that movie speak stuff and I have learned not to argue with her over these things.
Then she said something I was surprised by - Hachi: A Dog’s Tale was a remake of the 1987 Japanese movie Hachiko Monogatari. The movie was based on the true story of an Akita named Hachiko who was born in 1923. When Hachiko’s master died two years later, Hachiko returned to the train station every day for the next nine years waiting for him to return. This unprecedented act of loyalty inspired an artist to erect a bronze statue of Hachiko at the train station where it still stands today.
So, despite the fact that I dislike dogs and all they are made of, I hate to admit that the human was right. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale was actually an enjoyable film and one that I would recommend to even the finickiest cats out there. Just remember that your humans will need lots of tissues - heh, heh, heh.