Tuesday, November 09, 2010


When you google "faithful dog" the top entry is Hachikō, and for good reason.
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 his friend was waiting. Every day for the next nine years Hachikō 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. ... This continued for nine years with Hachikō appearing precisely when the train was due at the station.—Wikipedia
Someone I met at the library rcommended we try Hachi: A Dog's Tale with Richard Gere as the professor and owner of the world's most loyal Akita. How did I miss this? I don't remember hearing about this film at all, but it was wonderful, directed by Lasse Hallström, who knows a thing or two about dog movies. Based on an earlier Japanese film - Hachikō-Monogatari, which was based on the true story of possibly the most faithful dog ever.

Devotion and loyalty are the prime qualities of Hachi. Qualities that aren't usually the focus of a film, but qualities that couldn't be more cinematic. Dialogue is rarely needed. Hachi: A Dog's Tale is a quiet film—deceptively simple—but like life, full of deep emotions and sudden shocks and surprises. At times we get glimpses through Hachi's eyes, which reinforces for the viewer time and again how deep the bond Hachi shared with his master. Richard Gere is also perfect. It's hard to believe that Hachi is not truly his dog—he doesn't seem to be acting, but living.

This is not just a dog's story or the story of what happens to a man, but a story about the bond of a person and their dog. A story about unconditional love. Knowing how the story will end doesn't take anything away from the enjoyment of the film—Isn't that how all our stories will end? I won't pretend that it isn't a tear-jerker when the end does come. But it is also beautiful and full of love. A lovely little movie.
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