81 – Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

2009

Directed by Lasse Hallstrom

Quick synopsis… When his master dies, a loyal pooch named Hachiko keeps a regular vigil — for more than a decade — at the train station where he once greeted his owner every day in this touching drama based on a true story.

  • I’ve seen a lot of movies over the years.
  • And if I’ve learned anything about movies with a dog’s name as part of the title, someone’s gonna wind up crying.
  • Unless it’s animated…
  • Or the dogs talk for some reason.
  • I’m looking at you Air Bud.
  • Just think about it… Old Yeller, Marley & Me…
  • Okay, maybe I’ve just made up that rule based on two movies I’ve seen.
  • For the record, I haven’t seen Air Bud, so I don’t really know if it’s a tearjerker.
  • Though I doubt it, based on the premise that it’s a dog that plays basketball.
  • Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) comes across a puppy at the train station and really has no choice but to bring him home for the night.
  • This is a lost dog and Parker plans to find his rightful people as soon as he can.
  • But bringing him home is a problem for Parker’s wife, Cate (Joan Allen), who apparently isn’t a fan of dogs.
  • Which leads me to my first question… Why is Parker still with Cate if she doesn’t like dogs?!
  • Parker’s colleague, a Japanese professor (Ken), explains that the puppy is an Akita and that the Japanese character on his collar is the number 8… Hachi.
  • Eventually, Cate warms up to the idea of keeping Hachi instead of finding him another home.
  • Sometime later, once Hachi has grown, he follows Parker to the train station and refuses to go back home.
  • Parker misses the train, taking the dog back home, then leaves Hachi with Cate so he can take the next train to work.
  • Then, later in the day, when Hachi hears the train horn signaling Parker’s return, he hops the fence and runs down to the station to wait for his master to arrive.
  • This turns into a daily routine for Hachi, as he knows just when to go to the station to greet Parker.
  • Parker laments that Hachi won’t fetch a ball like most dogs would, but Ken explains that an Akita won’t fetch unless he has a good reason to.
  • Hachi is fully part of the family and is even included in photos following Andy’s (Parker and Cate’s daughter) wedding.
  • One day, Hachi isn’t waiting for Parker at the station.
  • Turns out, he was cornered in the garage by a skunk… resulting in both Hachi and Parker getting sprayed.
  • The routine continues until one morning when Hachi seemingly refuses to walk to the station with Parker.
  • Once Parker leaves, Hachi gets his ball and then follows.
  • Before Parker catches his train, he and Hachi finally play fetch.
  • When it’s time to catch the train, Parker puts the ball in his pocket and tells Hachi to go home like he normally does.
  • Hachi doesn’t want him to go.
  • That day, Parker suffers a fatal stroke in his classroom while holding onto Hachi’s ball.
  • Without fail… Hachi waits for Parker at the train station.
  • It isn’t until later that night that Michael, Parker and Cate’s son-in-law arrives to take Hachi back home.
  • Even as Parker’s funeral is attended by family and friends, Hachi continues to return to the train station to wait for Parker to return.
  • And… yeah… I’m crying.
  • Cate decides to sell the house and move away, while Andy and Michael take Hachi to live with them and their new baby, Ronnie.
  • But Hachi gets out of the house and runs all the way back home, but finds strangers there now.
  • So then he returns to the train station so he can continue waiting for Parker.
  • Andy and Michael find him at the station and take him home again.
  • But back in the yard, Hachi hears a distant train’s horn and whines to get out.
  • Andy decides to let him go.
  • He licks her hand as she opens the gate and then he leaves.
  • And he returns to his spot in front of the train station, waiting for Parker.
  • Hachi spends his nights sleeping under an old train car and his days sitting in his spot, relying on friendly strangers for food.
  • A reporter writes a story about Hachi, inspiring people from all over to send cards and money to support the dog.
  • Ken reads the article and comes to town to help.
  • He offers to provide money, but is informed that if something happens and Hachi needs help, the community will take a collection.
  • Everyone loves this dog.
  • Ken speaks Japanese to Hachi, telling him that he misses his friend and that Parker is not coming back, but that Hachi must do what he must do.
  • 10 years after Parker’s death, Cate returns to visit her husband’s grave.
  • Hachi is now old and moving slowly.
  • Cate sees Hachi sitting in his usual spot and waits with him for the next train.
  • Cate returns home to spend Christmas with Andy, Michael, and Ronnie, telling her grandson all about Hachi and Parker.
  • Hachi lies in his spot, still waiting as train passengers exit the station.
  • Then we see Parker step out of the station to call Hachi one last time…
  • And I have to say that I’m glad this movie is over because I am tired of crying!
  • Seriously… my sinuses can’t handle this.
  • Prior to the credits rolling, we get a short couple of paragraphs explaining that the real Hachiko lived in Tokyo and waited in the same spot at the train station after his master died in 1925 until his own death in March of 1934.
  • Having now seen Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, it currently ranks at 357 out of 2,257 movies on my personal Flickchart list.

Have you seen Hachi before? Had you heard the true story upon which the movie is based? Did you cry as much as I just did? Because I’d really like to know I’m not alone in this. So let me know your thoughts down in the comments. And then come back next week for Dead Poets Society, a movie I can’t believe I’m admitting to never seeing before.

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