Dec 5, 2010

Hachiko: A Dog's Story [Film Review]

Hachiko: A Dog's Story on IMDb

Release Date: June 13, 2009
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writers: Stephen P. Lindsey (screenplay), Kaneto Shindô (motion picture "Hachiko monogatari")
Stars: Richard Gere, Joan Allen and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Plot Summary:
In Bedridge, Professor Parker Wilson (Gere) finds an abandoned dog at the train station and takes it home with the intention of returning the animal to its owner. He finds that the dog is an Akita and names it Hachiko. However, nobody claims the dog so his family decides to keep Hachi.
Every day, Hachi walks to the train station with his master, and stays there, waiting for him to return. 
Professor and dog form a very strong bond, so strong that when something happens to Prof. Wilson at his workplace, Hachi still waits for him at the station, not understanding why he isn't coming home.
My Opinion:

You may be wondering, "What is a Film Review doing in a Book Blog?" Well, I couldn't not talk about this, after just having seen it. 

You may have heard of Hachiko's story, or you may not. This is for those of you who haven't:
In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo took in Hachikō as a pet. During his owner's life Hachikō 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. The professor had suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to the train station where Hachikō was waiting. Every day for the next nine years the golden brown Akita waited at Shibuya station.

Hachikō was given away after his master's death, but he routinely escaped, returning again and again to 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 the return of his owner.

The permanent fixture at the train station that was Hachikō attracted the attention of other commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train station had seen Hachikō and Professor Ueno together each day. They brought Hachikō treats and food to nourish him during his wait.

This continued for nine years with Hachikō appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.

In the end, he got ill, and passed away. His body was found in a street in Shibuya.

I've recently started learning Japanese, I like learning languages, and I thought Japanese would be fun to try. That's how I came upon Hachi's story.

Hachi means "eight" in Japanese, and it's a number of good fortune, or so I read.

When I saw that there was a film about it, I had to see it.
And well, I just did, and I can't stop crying. Hachi's tale is beautiful, it shows us how strong a bond between master and animal can be. Hachi remains loyal to his Professor until the very end.

The film was very good. They respected the dog's real race and his background, not turning the whole thing into a super Americanised version of the real story. The dog was so cute, I wanted to hug him every time he did something funny.
And so beautiful too, a golden dog with a kind face.

What I loved about it was that it goes into Hachi's mind. There were scenes in black and white, showing us what Hachi was seeing. Even if he didn't completely understand what was going on, he had some idea.

Everyone who passed by the station greeted him, and took care of him.

This is a very sad story, so I sugest you watch it with a box of tissues near you.

The ending is so cute, I loved it. Overall, a great film.

2 monkey thought (s):

Marie said...

This story is just heartbreaking isn't it? (I still get a little miffed when people talk about the Futurama episode that pretty blatantly ripped off this story...)

Since you're learning Japanese, you might be interested in the 1987 Japanese version of the movie, Hachikō Monogatari. I've never seen it, and I'm not even sure how available it is, but it might help you with your studies.

Gokouun o inorimasu!

Elise said...

The dog peeking out of the bag? Too cute to handle. Might be worth seeing the movie for that alone.

I knew the Hachiko story, but never knew about this movie -- glad you posted the review!

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