Friday, October 8, 2010

Hachi: A Dog's Tale on DVD

I watched the most depressing movie today. It made me cry, and normally I like to cry at movies. But this cry wasn't cathartic. It was more despairing. And it wasn't just a few tears rolling down the cheeks. It was sob-out-loud sad. Why, oh, why would you make a movie like that?

Now, Hachi: A Dog's Tale really is an amazing story, don't get me wrong. This dog falls so in love with his owner that when the owner dies, the dog sits and waits for the five o'clock train every day for the next ten years. Talk about loyalty. But that's the kind of story I'd much rather hear about or maybe even read about than watch in detail. I don't really want to see a dog grow old, wasting its life, never loving another owner, just waiting for ten long years. Sadly, this story is based on a true story that happened in Japan, and there's even a stone dog memorial to mark the spot where the poor dog waited. Amazing story, yes. Amazing movie? No.

You know what you're getting into when you start this movie, so there're really no spoilers to be had. So, let me tell you exactly why I can't recommend this movie. When the dog's owner dies, the wife moves out of her home, and the dog goes to live with the daughter and her family. But as soon as the dog can, it escapes and follows the railroad all the way back to its previous home and then on to the train station. Although the daughter finds the dog, she realizes Hachi isn't happy with his new family and releases him to be on his own. Hold it right there! Really? I suppose this dog was as close to human as an animal gets, but no one would "release" a beloved pet to the elements without shelter or care to supposedly fulfill the animal's desires. You don't reason with pets just like you don't reason with two-year-olds. The adult knows better. The human knows better.

So, the dog goes to live under a train car, through snow and rain, for the rest of his life. And does anyone notice? Of course they do! People feed the dog and talk to it. The daughter even mails money to the train station worker to care for the dog. How thoughtful of her. But no one seems to be thinking, "Hey, this dog probably needs a new home, maybe closer to his beloved train station, but still." I get that the dog might not have accepted anyone else's home, like he didn't accept the daughter's. But realistically, the humane shelter would be all over that.

So, it happened in Japan, and it's a true story. Cool. (By the way, the movie is all American.) But I didn't need to see it. I thought there might be redeeming value when I chose to watch it. And, yeah, the story is cushioned in a little boy's school presentation about his hero, his grandfather's dog Hachi.

But all I could think was poor, poor dog, waiting for ten years, living under a train car. Clearly, the dog was miserable, and awful as it sounds, it might have been more merciful to put him out of his misery. Sorry, PETA.

Other than that, the acting is great. The dog is beautiful. The movie has potential, but the truth of the matter is, it's just too sad.

1 comment:

  1. Why would anyone make a movie out of that story! It sounds horribly depressing!


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