When it comes to choice of movies, hubby and I are often on the opposite poles. He often labels me as a “romantic comedy” movies aficionado while his choice of Shaolin master type intelligent movies have me lost somewhere in between. So, last night after a boring wedding reception, I was searching my laptop for some good movie. After filtering the “mushy mushy, action, thriller, boring types, too mentally exhaustive for the night” categories, I chanced upon Hachi: A dog’s Tale. “This seems a good movie…full of warmth & affection.” We both echoed….rare!
Many movies have been made on the dog man relationship, the last one I remember seeing was “Marley & me.” While “M&M” focused on the bond between the dog and his master’s family, “Hachi” is just about a dog’s love, loyalty & devotion for his master.
The movie runs in flashback as children in a class are shown giving presentation about the Heroes in their lives. While others go for the usual celebrity hero examples, Ronnie’s choice of his grandfather’s pet dog “Hachi” makes the class burst into laughter. Unperturbed, Ronnie begins his story…
A young Akita dog is shipped from Japan to US. On the way out from railway station, his cage falls down the trolley & gets unnoticed. Poor Hachi, with his black & white vision (1st movie I saw which considered the research finding that dogs are color blind!) struggles to get out and begins to explore the cold, unfriendly surroundings. He catches the attention of Prof Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) who, touched by his innocent face & expressive eyes decides to help the poor dog.
Unable to locate the owner or find a suitable place, parker gets Hachi home on a cold night. Having owned a dog before, parker had an agreement with his wife Cate that they would never keep a pet dog again. She goes ballistic as she discovers Hachi in her bedroom & orders Parker to have him led out immediately. Parker tries to buy time as he hides his growing affection for the misty eyed Akito from his wife.
Parker consults his Japanese friend “ken” regarding the meaning of a symbol on Hachi’s collar. The symbol is “Hachi”, Japanese word for “good fortune” & that’s how “Hachi” gets his name. Each day, Parker tries to find Hachi a home while Cate helplessly sees Hachi making his place in the hearts of her husband & daughter. She finally receives a call from a prospect however, it’s too late…hachi had even taken Cate by his charm & she says “Sorry, the dog’s been taken.”
The next few scenes are a sheer joy for anybody’s who has ever owned a dog. The small joys of everyday life, the growing bond that Parker shared with Hachi brought tears in my eyes as I remembered my deceased dog & the fun we used to have. Hachi becomes an integral part of the Wilson household. Hachi is a grateful dog. He never forgets that it was Parker who saved him on a cold winter night & his loyalty holds highest with Parker. Hachi gives Parker company wherever he goes, sees him off to the railway station everyday & without fail, each day goes to receive him back, waiting outside the station. A wonder dog, he takes everyone by his charm as the butcher shop on the way too station treat him to sausages while regulars wish him as he becomes a part of their routine. Hachi even casts his spell on the local hot dog vendor who often doles out special treats for him.
Dogs have a strong gut feeling and one morning when Parker gets ready to leave for work, Hachi refuses to accompany him & tries his best to warn him of some danger he foresees. Hachi even fetches a ball, something, he had never done before. Ken had told Parker that Hachi is a wonder dog & if he fetches, he would do so for a special reason. Thinking this, Parker is elated, without realizing this was a warning to the danger Hachi had foreseen. Parker leaves for work, leaving a hyper Hachi behind. That day, at work Parker succumbs to a stroke.
Things change with Cate selling her house & Hachi moved to Parker’s daughter’s place. However, for Hachi, the wait is still not over. He runs away from the house & makes the station his abode. Each day, he continues to wait for Parker at the station,hoping he would someday return & shower him with all his love like before. The station controller & the hot dog seller try their best to tell Hachi Parker would never return. Even Ken tries to convince Hachi in Japanese, but all goes in vain. Parker’s daughter & son in law come & take Hachi home however, seeing in his eyes & his determination to wait for his master, they let him be & bid him a teary farewell. Hachi continues to wait for Parker each day at the station for the rest of his life.
On his 10th death anniversary, Cate visits Parker’s grave & on her way back, is shocked to find Hachi still waiting at the station. She breaks down & hugs Hachi, perhaps regretting the love she could have showered on this loyal friend when parker 1st got him home. She too tries to get him to terms with reality but Hachi’s hope is too strong to face the reality. The hot dog seller sees a new buddy in Hachi as he feeds him everyday & shares a few moments of buddy talk with him. Hachi, who has already become famous wth station regulars becomes a local hero with a newspaper story done on him. Till his last breath, Hachi hopes to be united with his master & so when his end comes, he closes his eyes & feels united with Parker.
What appeared as an amusing example in a class presentation has students moved as Ronnnie himself is unable to control his emotions. He now has his own Akita as he values the special bond Hachi shared with his grandfather & wants to replicate the same.
It was a futile struggle to hold back my tears as I remembered the same bond my dog shared with my late mother. The movie, based on a true story of an Akito in Japan is a well crafted depiction of true love & devotion that exists even in the times of opportunism & deceit. Whenever I get a chance to visit Japan, a visit to the statue of the original Hachi will be definitely on my itinerary. Richard Gere, at his usual best & wonderful background piano scores add the perfect garnish to the emotional treat the movie offers. A must watch for all canine lovers…
|The original Hachi|
|Hachi's statue outside Shibuya station|