Video: Sony's treatment on this blu ray disc is excellent, with 1.85:1 widescreen. The picture was clean, free of debris, and boasts excellent flesh tones. The details are there with the every different colour of fur on Hachi. (4/5)
Audio: Jan A.P. Kaczmarek's music, especially the piano solo, is simply beautiful, and blends in with the movie. It never intrudes into the picture. Dialogue was clear. (4.5/5)
But the real stars of this movie are firstly, the story itself, and how well director Lasse Hallstrom's tender touch brought it to the screen, and also the Akita dog Hachi, played by three different animals, named Chico, Layla and Forrest. Richard Gere was fantastic in this movie. He bonded really well with the dog and it never felt like watching an actor at all. It genuinely seemed to be a movie with his own dog.
This is a remake of an old 1987 Japanese film "Hachiko Monogatari", based on a true story. In 1932, a dog won the hearts of the people of Japan after a newspaper article described his loyalty to his owner. Every afternoon, Hachiko would wait at the train station for Dr. Ueno. After the man died suddenly in 1925, the animal returned to the station every day to wait for him, until his own death in 1935. A bronze statue was placed at Shibuya Station to honor this extraordinary canine, and a festival is held there every April.
During the movie, it was made very clear that Hachi did not play "fetch". But one morning when Gere wanted to walk to the train station to go to work, Hachi somehow felt something omnimous that was going to happen to his master, and did not want Gere to go. Then, Hachi would bring the ball to the train station and caught Gere before he boarded the train. And Hachi asked Gere to play "fetch" with him for the first and last time. In Hachi's mind, he was going out of his way to please his master and may be sensing he might not return...and Gere would never return after suffering a heart attack during his class. Tears will start to swell in one's eyes. And when Hachi kept returning to wait for his master for the next 9 years until his death, tears will be continuously flooding from the eyes.
The tears will be uncontrollable when just before Hachi's death, he would see his "dead" master again walking out of the train station to welcome him and they would embrace, and they strolled away together in the dark of night to the stairways to heaven...
Hachi is a film without explosions, computer graphics, and violence. The story is just so touching that you simply forget that you are watching a film. If you are an animal-lover or owner, this movie is a must-own. And make sure you have lots of tissue papers around because you will need them. Highly recommended (movie 5/5)