Hachiko: A Dog’s Story Movie Review
First it was Seabiscuit, then it was Marley and Me. Now a recent movie about the bonds of love and loyalty between an owner and his dog had me balling my eyes out during most of the movie. I never, ever cry during a movie, but with this one I was a mess. Hachiko: A Dog’s Tale (2009) went straight to DVD, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why. If Hachiko had made it into the theaters, it surely would have won a few awards. This movie has to be one of the best adaptations of a true life story I have ever watched.
Hachiko is based on an Akita Inu dog named Hachiko, who was owned by a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo in 1924. The story goes as follows:
During his owner’s life Hachikō saw him out from the front door and greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925, when Professor Ueno did not return on the usual train one evening. The professor had suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage at the university that day. He died and never returned to the train station where his friend was waiting. Hachikō was loyal and every day for the next nine years he waited sitting there amongst the town’s folk.
Hachikō was given away after his master’s death, but he routinely escaped, showing up again and again at his old home. Eventually, Hachikō apparently realized that Professor Ueno no longer lived at the house. So he went to look for his master at the train station where he had accompanied him so many times before. Each day, Hachikō waited for Professor Ueno to return until his death in 1935. Haciko became the national symbol of loyalty.
Hachiko: A Dog’s Story is told in near perfection. Hachi arrives all the way from Japan as a puppy to the United States, but is lost and found walking around the train station by Parker Wilson, played by Richard Gere. Parker takes the puppy home until he can find the owner. His wife Cate, played by Joan Allen, is not pleased. But after a few days, the little Hachi brings laughs and joy into their household. Parker tries to teach Hachi to play fetch, but Hachi refuses, because Parker’s associate, Ken (Cary-Hiruki Tagawa) explains how Hachi is a proud and regal dog. He goes on to say how the bond between Parker and Hachi will never be broken.
Months go by, and before Hachi turns one, he has a new trick. He has figured out how to go back and forth to the train station as Parker goes into work everyday. For the next year, Hachi escorts Parker to the train station, then at 4:55pm, he is there waiting for Parker to come home. Carl, the ticket booth conductor, played by Jason Alexander, is not amused, but most of the commuters, as well as the hot dog vendor and bookstore owner across the street from the station think it’s delightful.
And then one day, Parker doesn’t return home. And Hachi waits and waits for his master everyday at 4:55pm for the next ten years to be reunited with him. Years go by, through snow, rain and wind, Hachi waits for Parker until that moment when they will be reunited.
I sobbed liked a baby to the point where I had a massive headache through most of Hachiko. Talk about a heartbreaking and moving experience, especially since it is all true. Richard Gere, as Parker, plays a wonderful and a loving husband, father and dog owner. The love and bond shown between Parker and Hachi lasts forever, and regardless if you are a pet owner or don’t really care for animals, this movie will break your heart.
Hachikō is the best family entertainment out there and will make your heart swell. This is the perfect example about how the power of love can last, even in death. There haven’t been many movies in recent years that had such a profound effect on me. Hachiko certainly did and one I whole heartedly recommend you watch as soon as you can. I really can’t find anything wrong about this movie. You may also want to have a box of tissues handy, because while you watch and for hours after, you will cry your eyes out.
Final Grade: A+
The legend of Hachikō lives on. His remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno, Tokyo. In April 1934, a bronze statue in his likeness was erected at Shibuya Station. The statue still stands there to this day.