Grab a box of tissues (or even several boxes if you’re like me) because one of the most tear-jerking dog films is coming to a television near you. On September 25, 2010 The Hallmark Channel will be premiering Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. The film stars Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, Chicago), Joan Allen (Georgia O’Keeffe) and Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) and is directed by Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape).
The film is based off of a beloved Japanese tale of an Akita, named Hachiko, and Dr. Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at Tokyo University. Ueno adopted Hachiko as a puppy in 1923 and for two years, they would walk together to the train station and Hachiko would meet Dr. Ueno at the train station when he returned from work. One day in 1925, Dr. Ueno suddenly died of a cerebral hemorrhage while working at the university. Hachiko patiently waited for his friend and caregiver that never came.
Following that day, every day for 10 years, Hachiko returned to the train station to wait. In 1934, a statue was erected in his honor at the entrance of Shibuyu Station (Hachiko attended the dedication), but was melted down a few years later for metals in WWII. However, in 1948, a bronze statue of the dog was erected for permanent placement at the station’s entrance.
“It was a visceral response for me from the beginning," Gere explained his emotions after reading the script. "When you have that kind of bond with an animal, it’s in the realm of poetry. I started to weep like a baby.”
The film is an Americanized version of the story (it takes place in New England), but this touching tale transcends eras and borders. Despite the fact that the film was successful in festivals and overseas, it did not receive a theatrical release in the United States. However, Hachi: A Dog's Tale is finally getting its chance on The Hallmark Channel this month and Richard Gere believes that it will be appreciated in the years to come.
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Photo credit: video screen capture