12.02.12: hachi - the best film ... ever!

A film that blows the heart wide open.

US Theatrical Release?

I'm writing this review with tears in my eyes thinking about Hachi - A Dog's Tale (Hachiko), a film originally released in 2009. Not because I'm a big dog lover in particularly but because of the central message of the film. The power of love and loyalty. This simple enchanting film enscapulates this message in the way the story is told and not with heavy symbolic touches which so many films do. It's beguiling gentle pace allows you to absorb the central premise without you even noticing until at the key points you find yourself teary-eyed. How did that happen? It's the story - the way the turn of events go, gently leading you to tears.

I've seen 50+ year old hardened men break down in tears seeing it; people who have no real affection with dogs with tears in their eyes. Yes, it's that powerful, that poetic & that emotional. It leaves you with an emptiness in your heart and a sorrow yet overwhelming admiration for Hachi.

I love this movie. I love the dog, the Akita breed which, of course, Hachi comes from, most of the characters (Gere's wife in the movie, Joan Allen is the exception but she is crucial to the drama and is the perfect counterpoint to the film tipping into sentimentality) ... more.

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One of the reasons I think that the film is so powerful is because some of it is told through the eyes of the dog. To see things how he sees things, from his perspective, the world from dog level, gives you the kind of connection with the character that is rare in other movies.

It is one of those few films that makes you think of life in a different way. Hachi the dog teaches you a fundamental lesson - the spiritual force beyond words that is the power of love and loyalty. It is intoxicating and perhaps it is because so many of us spend our lives looking for this combination and not finding it that makes so many of us miserable and depressed.

I do think in years to come this film will be regarded with the same affection as It's A Wonderful Life. It took years, the advent of TV appearing in the sitting rooms of the world, and repeating the movie for Wonderful Life to enter the consciousness of popular culture; while Hachi is well-known it is not on that level.

There is a moment in this movie, near the end, that, in my opinion, will become part of film folklore in time. It is that powerful. If you watch the movie I bet you will know that moment immediately.

You will know it, and like me, won't forget it.

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours

Carve Her Name With Pride

Below, I have put what happens up to a certain point in the movie as it would be unfair to those who haven't been fortunate enough to see it to describe it all. Suffice to say, the whole movie is done in a beautiful, simple, poetic way but it is the final 30 minutes or so which really grabs you.

It is the one film I would have no hesitation in recommending to everybody. It is billed as a 'family film' but it is so much more than that. A simple story with depth.


Text: Paul Page, 2012

12.02.12: hachi (the making of) - quotes

'This was not simply a story about a dog, but of abiding devotion between a man and woman, parent and child, individual and country, and cut across cultural, racial and sexual divides.' - Vicki Shigekuni Wong (Co-Producer)

12.02.12: hachi - about akitas

  • Adult males - significantly stronger than females - can weigh up to 9st (57kg) and stand up to 70cm (28ins) in height.

  • The dogs can cost up to £1,000 in Britain.

  • Some people believe Akitas can 'talk' using a series of grunts, groans and mumbles distinct from normal growling.

  • The Akita is a Japanese hunting dog.

  • The dogs have a double coating of fur, which is also waterproof.

  • Their slightly webbed paws mean they are excellent swimmers despite their bulk.

  • Akitas were made 'natural monuments' - or national treasures - in Japan in 1931.

  • In their home country, all-white Akitas are revered most highly.

  • The name Akita comes from that of the northern-most province of the main island of Honshu in Japan.

  • Akitas originate from the mountainous northern regions of Japan.

  • Despite being naturally aggressive, Akitas are very intelligent and loyal, and live for between 10 and 13 years of age.

    12.02.12: hachi - your thoughts!

    If you've seen the film I would hazard a guess you saw the ending through misty eyes. I found it almost theraputic to write about it and would love to put your thoughts on the film here. How did it effect you? What did you think of the pace. Where does it rank in your all time favourite movie list. Were the family cruel in how they treated the dog? Could the daughter really have done that?? E-mail your thoughts to ihuppert5@aol.com and I will add them here.

    Richard Gere OUT DID HIMSELF. KATE I WANTED TO BEAT. I seen this 2 months after my dog died and realized I was Hachi wanting for my dog to return. It broke my heart and I own the dvd, I still cry after watching it over 100 times.
    - Anonymous - 14th May 2014

    12.02.12: hachi - sypnosis

    From Academy Award-nominated director Lasse Hallström (2000, The Cider House Rules) comes Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, a film based on one of the most treasured and heartwarming true stories ever told. Golden Globe winner Richard Gere (2002, Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, Chicago) stars as Professor Parker Wilson, a distinguished scholar who discovers a lost Akita puppy on his way home from work. Despite initial objections from Wilson’s wife, Cate (Academy Award nominee Joan Allen – 2000, Best Actress, The Contender), Hachi endears himself into the Wilson family and grows to be Parker's loyal companion. As their bond grows deeper, a beautiful relationship unfolds embodying the true spirit of family and loyalty, while inspiring the hearts of an entire town.

    Based on a true story from Japan, Hachi: A Dog's Tale is a moving film about loyalty and the rare, invincible bonds that occasionally form almost instantaneously in the most unlikely places.

    Based on the 1987 Japanese film HACHIKO MONOGATARI, as well as on a true story, HACHI - A DOG'S TAKE stars Richard Gere as a college professor who finds an abandoned dog and takes the poor lost animal in. The film follows the two as the man and animal soon form a strong and unexplainable bond. Joan Allen co-stars in the Inferno Entertainment production.

    Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is the heartwarming true story about an unbreakable bond between a University professor and his dog. It all begins when Parker (Richard Gere) finds a lost puppy (Hachi) at his local train station. Not wanting to hand the puppy over to the pound, Parker takes it back home with him. Banned by his wife Cate (Joan Allen) from having another dog, Parker hides Hachi to the best of his ability but due to Hachi’s mischievous behavior Cate soon finds out. No one comes forward to claim Hachi and Parker and Hachi become so inseparable that Cate cannot help but accept the mystery puppy into their family. Parker and Hachi develop an inexplicable friendship, and every morning Hachi accompanies Parker to the train station and faithfully returns to greet his master every evening in exactly the same place, at exactly the same time. Through his daily journeys to the station Hachi becomes a regular fixture of the community and an inspiration of love, friendship and unyielding loyalty to everyone who meets him. Hachi’s story is a tale for the ages; a dog’s faithful devotion to his master exposes the great power of love and how this simplest of acts can become the grandest gesture of all.

    The True Story: In 1924, Hachiko was brought to Tokyo by his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. During his owner's life Hachiko saw him off from the front door and greeted him at the end of the day at the nearby Shibuya Station. The pair continued their daily routine until May 1925 ...

    The central theme of the film as well as the true stroy is known by almost everyone in Japan but deserves to be more widely known outside of that territory as it really is the most poignant symbol of love.

    The majority of the film was shot in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, US which just looks beautiful. The now famous railway station shots were also shot here, a Victorian-style train station built in 1882 by the Providence and Worcester (P&W) Railroad Company.

    12.02.12: the cult of indifference

    Inexplicably, in the US the film has never been given a theatrical release! Extraordinary! Sony Pictures Entertainment took that decision and I wonder in years to come whether it will become part of movie folklore the same way It's A Wonderful Life was neglected in the immediate years after its release. Perhaps if in sufficient numbers we can get Sony to give it a belated US theatrical release? Who knows but if you would like to see a release just e-mail me here and if I get a petition into the thousands I can show the company that there is a market for it.

    01.04.12: gallery

    hachi dvd cover

    hachi dvd cover

    hachi dvd cover

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    01.04.14: uk dvd gallery

    Hachi UK Dvd

    Hachi UK Dvd

    Hachi UK Dvd

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    12.02.12: uk dvd features

    Anomorphic Widescreen 16:9
    English 5.1 Dolby Digital
    English SDH Subtitles
    Feature Run Time: 89 Mins Approx
    DVD Release Date: 5 July 2010
    UK Theatrical Release Date: 12 March 2010

    UK Dvd Bonus Features: The Making of Hachi: A Dog's Tale - Trailer

    The short making of documentary is a charming piece. Richard Gere & the director Lasse hallstrom especially give insightful interviews about working with this magical breed of dogs and how they arrived at the making of the piece. Gere (a producer on the movie) for instance wasn't sure about making the film as it wasn't really his type of film but as soon as he read the script he was in floods of tears. He had to make it.

    I learnt alot about the Akita breed and their unique temperament. Boy, are they clever dogs. There are also some great location shots.

    Lovely little piece to compliment the main feature.

    01.09.20: buy item & condition

    Condition: Used - Like New. Only 1 left in stock.

    Price: SOLD OUT

    Also available: amazon.co.uk | amazon.com
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    CD Soundtrack: amazon.co.uk
    Kindle: hachiko: the true story of the royal dogs of japan and one faithful akita

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