Hachi- A Dog Tail

on Sunday, April 3, 2011

Director: Lasse Hallström
Stars: Richard Gere, Joan Allen and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Parker Wilson ( Richard Gere) is a music professor at a university and he commutes by train every day. One day he finds a puppy wandering about on the platform. Unable to find anyone to claim the dog he takes it home.

His wife, Cate, is not best pleased and tells him he must find the real owner soon. He puts up flyers and asks around but nobody claims the dog. He even asks Ken, a Japanese colleague about the dog. Ken tells him that he has a symbol on his collar that says 'Hachiko', which means 'eight' in Japanese. As you can guess, Hachi (for short) becomes the dog's name.

As the days pass the bond grows stronger between Parker and Hachi and Cate eventually relents and allows the dog to stay. Once fully grown, every day Hachi would follow Parker to the station and then go home until the evening when he would return to wait for his master. This goes on for quite a while and Hachi becomes a bit of a celebrity amongst those that work in and around the station.

But one day, Richard Gere has a heart attack and dies whilst teaching, and when Hachi goes to meet the train that day, his master does not appear as normal at the station door. Various events ensue, but Hachi cannot settle with any other member of the family, as they have all left the original house near the station, so Hachi returns to his post every day and waits for his master. He does this every day for ten years. He faithfully waits and scans the station door every day at 5 PM, never giving up hope or losing his loyalty to the man he adores. He does this come rain or shine, he sits in the snow, he lives on scraps, but nothing can deter him or shake his loyalty.

There are some really good performances by minor characters associated with the station, a hot-dog seller (sensitively portrayed by the Indian actor Erick Avari), some station employees, and other locals such as a friendly butcher and his wife, and even a real Japanese professor (excellently played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) who had been a friend of Gere, who comes and speaks to Hachi in Japanese, which Hachi from his facial expression clearly recognises. Hachi's point-of-view shots are all shot in black and white, from ground level, presumably on the theory that dogs do not see in colour. They are very effective indeed, which is not an easy thing to pull off

You may be surprised to know that this film is based on a 1987 Japanese film called "Hachiko monogatari" by Kaneto Shindô, which is, in turn, based on a true story. There is a very nice musical score that complements the visuals perfectly and I love the occasional shots we get from the dog's point of view. Nobody does a long stare quite like Richard Gere, and he was excellent in his part as Parker Wilson here. Also worth a mention are; Joan Allen as Cate Wilson, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Ken, Sarah Roemer as Andy (their daughter), Jason Alexander, as Carl and Erick Avari as Jasjeet..

Over all, it is a heartbreaking movie for anyone, animal lover or not. The faithfulness and loyalty of the dog is so impressionable, it's unexplainable.


Devika Awasthi said...

amazing review...i truly loved d movie! it was so emotional and i literally cried for the dog. the movie has done the justice to the dog's life who went through it all.

Astha Gupta said...

thanks... :D :D :D and yaaaa it is an amazing movie...

lol said...

makes me wanna watch it :)

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