Binary Persona: ハチ公: A Dog’s Story

Wednesday, 14 July, 2010 346 words

I watched the American interpretation of Hachiko, titled ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Story‘ and thought that it was one of the most well directed films I’ve seen. I swelled with tears so much.

If you’ve been to Shibuya, you know about Hachiko. Its a story of amazing loyalty. The Akito dog would always walk with its owner, a university professor, to the train station and then return home. After work, the dog would run to the station and walk with his owner home. This happened every day and the pair became a common sight that everybody knew.

One day though, the professor died at his workplace. Hachiko just kept waiting. The people around tried to adopt him and coerce him away from this fruitless endeavour but no matter what, Hachiko would always return to his waiting spot.

He spent the next 9 years waiting for his owner.

This enduring loyalty touched so many around him. He gained national fame when he was publicised in the Japanese newspaper. But he just kept waiting for his owner, to his death. A statue where Hachiko stood was erected in his honour. Its an iconic part of Shibuya now, with a section of the train station following suit and named after him.

With such a beautiful story as his base, I doubt the director, Lasse Hallström, could have fucked it up for the American rendition but he executed the tale so well with that soundtrack.

The walk from home to the train station and the walk from the train station to home was accompanied by this piano piece. It was repeated throughout the film and then used as the clincher at the end as Hachiko passed away. Melding that piece with the connection between the two characters and then using it as a eulogy was so powerfully emotional. I was on the brink of absolutely crying.

What a marvellous choice. It’s such a brilliant idea.

Well done. A lot of people are usually negative about Hollywood appropriations of another country’s culture but 2009′s ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Story‘ gets it so right.

The soundtrack was worth every dollar too.