Hachiko: A Dog’s Story Movie Review

Jun 9, 2010 by

 

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:

From Wikipedia:
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.

Trailer:

 
Katiebabs

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18 Comments

  1. Meg

    So I’m thinking that if I started crying just reading your review, I would be a total mess while watching this, too! Oh my. It sounds wonderful, though; so moving.

    “Marley & Me” had me sobbing so hard, I canceled plans to go out with friends afterward! I was crying too hard and felt so emotionally drained, I just wanted to go home. At least if “Hachiko” is on DVD, I’ll already be at home 🙂

  2. Amy

    I was so surprised to see this story made into a movie…the statue at Shibuya station is a famous place for friends to meet up in Tokyo! 🙂

  3. Really don’t think I could make it through this one. I still haven’t watched Marley and Me since I knew how it was going to end. Maybe I’ll watch when I’m in the mood to cry. Sounds like an amazing movie, just not up to watching right now.

  4. I’ve heard of this story and the statue that was made but I didn’t know there was a movie. I will definitely be looking for it! I’ve always had pets, I have two dogs now, and they are very special to me. This sounds amazing!

  5. RO

    I watched this movie and was blubbering like a fool, but it really did prove that love transcends time. Your review really did a good job of painting a beautiful portrait of the movie. Great movie and awesome review.

  6. I just saw the preview for this last night. It was on the BRIGHT STAR DVD! Good to know that it’s prime “cathartic crying” material!

    And, random, but I had a massive crush on Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa as a kid. To the point where I wrote this story that was basically RISING SUN meets HEART AND SOULS. The lead character was the ghost of a Yakuza hitman whose soul was attached to that of a girl who was born at the moment of his death. Of course, she turned into a smokin’ hot teenager and they fell in love. And he realized it was Very Wrong and went away For Her Own Good.

    Clearly I’ve always been a little warped…

  7. So since I refuse to watch animal movies because they always involve death or some sadness surrounding the animal, I doubt I’d be able to site through this. Sounds utterly beautiful and amazing. Right now it would hit too close to home – my German shepherd, the love of my life (sorry hubby), and my best friend fell ill a week ago and we are all trying desperately to save him. Some weird and unusual pneumonia. Everyday is a cry day for me. That movie might push me over another edge. Sigh.

  8. KB – can you tell me if this movie has a happy ending please? I can’t watch animal movies with sad endings…they break my heart. To this day I haven’t re-watched Dances with Wolves!

    (((Julia))) Am thinking good thoughts your way.

  9. Orannia: It’s hard to say if the ending is happy. I guess you could say that.

  10. Nifty

    I’m afraid to watch this one. I cry easily in movies, and I ADORE my dog, Bandit. I’ve seen the previews for this before, and I’ve stayed away from it because I just know it will rip me absolutely to shreds.

  11. Hachiko: A Dog’s Story (2009) has been made in a sort of staged documentary style, similar to the kind of movies often seen on documentary channels (e.g. NatGeo), however without a narrator so common in documentaries, and including well-known actors , making it more suitable for theatrical distribution.

  12. this is one of a kind movie. so great i super love this movie.=)

  13. Amazing movie.
    So touching.
    I cried through the whole movie.
    it was very sad, especially seing him at his old age.
    i dont understand his owner’s wife, really. so old and dirty, you can see he was sick. why didnt anyone cared for him?
    we (humans) don’t deserve their (animals) kindness.. they are too good for us.

    thanks for your amazing review

  14. Lilyrose: I guess the owner’s wife thought it better that Hachi be left along since he kept running away. And she was in mourning still.

    Every time I explain this movie to people, I tear up still.

  15. Anonymous

    Oh my! While watching hachiko, this movie really moves me… I kept on crying since the professor past away… until the end of the movie… Thumbs up!!! I love this movie…

  16. really its a gold class movie ..till th date i never cried when watching a movie but this hatchi really broke me apart ..my eyes r still getting blurred whn i m thinking abut hatchi nd writing this .greatest movie i have ever seen

  17. [* WordPress Security Firewall plugin marked this comment as “trash”. Reason: Failed GASP Bot Filter Test (checkbox) *]
    since I watched the movie it really hurt me because I once had a dog that I loved before.

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