Release date: 13 June 2009 (USA)
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writers: Stephen P. Lindsey (screenplay), Kaneto Shindô (screenplay for the original Japanese movie “Hachikō Monogatari“)
Stars: Richard Gere, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Joan Allen, and others.
Runtime: 93 min
“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is a heartbreaking movie of the great loyalty between the dog and its owner. It is based on a true story, which originally took place in Japan, in Shibuya, Tokyo. The story’s main protagonist was a dog Hachikō, which is in this American movie adaptation of the incredible story called Hachi. In the main role is the famous Hollywood star Richard Gere, who plays a professor Parker Wilson, an American counterpart of the actual professor Hidesaburō Ueno, Hachikō’s owner. Peter’s wife Cate Wilson is nicely played by Joan Allen, while Hachi is portrayed by three Akita Inu dogs, Layla, Chico, and Forrest. Strangely, for the role of a small Hachi they used a Shiba Inu puppy. I’m still trying to figure out why. Maybe because a small Shiba Inu is prettier, or maybe because it resembles the grown-up Akita Inu look more closely. Not sure.
In the end, it doesn’t matter that much, we all used to see such extra makeup in Hollywood movies. Thankfully, it is the only minor complaint I had with this adaptation, which is OK since I’m very picky when it comes to every form of art, not just movies. Honestly, I don’t like these Hollywood adaptations of foreign movies, books or stories. They often come as soulless, over the top, CGI ridden “commercials” of the actual stories they are based upon. I mean, just look at that recent Hobbit adaptation. It has everything except, well, the brain. With that in mind, it is quite surprising how lovely and touching this adaptation actually is. CGI was used sporadically, the story kept its soul, and everything seemed in place with both feet firm on the ground, which is quite rare in latest Hollywood productions. Bravo!
The Real Story Of Hachi
Like I said, the movie depicts, in its own right, the events of the actual true story. Speaking of that true story, the core is more or less the same, but the movie has its own “flavours”, of course. Peter Willson is a renowned professor, loved by students and everybody else. How classy. He has a wonderful wife and a son, you know, the innocent picture of a lovely American family, which is actually quite functional in this movie. This is, after all, a family drama with ordinary folks. No guns blazing, no psychopaths, no aliens, no violence, you get the picture. And, the good thing is you actually get attached to these particular characters, I’m sure some of you will definitely recognize themselves in these roles. Besides, there are beautiful primitive dogs, all in the role of Hachi, who, for the most part, steals the spot. Hachi will definitely charm you!
All this serves well for the emotional side of the story, which is quite sad and awe inspiring at the same time. I don’t wanna spoil the details for those who don’t know the actual story, but in short traits, it goes something like this. The professor Peter is living in a small place and he has to travel every day by train to the college he is working at. One day, at the train station, he finds an abandoned dog and decides to adopt him, despite his wife complaints. Later on, a professor gets attached to his loyal furry friend. The dog follows him day by day to the train station when going to college. Also, at that same train station, Hachi always awaits Peter returns home after work. Unfortunately, one day a professor dies while at work. He never again returns to the train station, but his dog continues waiting for him years after.
As you can see, it is quite a sad story. I won’t deny, I cried like a baby. Just wanted to hug that cute Hachi, to tell him something, to do anything to make him stop waiting. Trust me, you’ll sit in silence with tears in your eyes long after the movie ends. At the same time, somewhere deep inside your soul, you will be happy to know such loyal friendship and innocent love are still possible in this cruel world. How emotional and inspiring tale in the best way imaginable. I loved this movie for so many reasons. The story is touching and unforgettable, the acting is fine, Hachi is wonderful (those three Akita Inu dogs in the main role are just phenomenal), the music is appropriate, the setting is adequate, etc. In short, everything just works on so many levels.
An Honest Recommendation
I cannot recommend you this movie enough, it is that good. “Hatchi: A Dog’s Tale” is suitable for all generations, for everybody, but the faint hearted. Yeah, it is heavily emotional and striking, which can make you feel broken and desperate. Personally, I’m not that fond of such movies. You know that feeling, why should I watch the movie, which makes me cry? But, still, there is something about this movie, which makes you a better man, which makes you look at the world from another angle. It represents an innocent and breathtaking vision of true love we all strive to feel and share. So, without further delay, find yourself a copy of this wonderful movie, take a deep breath and immerse yourself. I’m sure you’ll love it! Oh, and prepare some handkerchiefs to wash your tears away because they will be raining ;)