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Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

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A Japanese-American fisherman is accused of killing his neighbor at sea. In the 1950s, race figures into the trial. So does reporter Ishmael.



(novel), (screenplay) (as Ron Bass) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Hatsue Miyamoto (as Youki Kudoh)
Nels Gudmundsson (as Max Von Sydow)
Alvin Hooks
Sheriff Art Moran
Susan Marie Heine
Carl Heine Jr.
Etta Heine
Carl Heine Sr. (as Daniel Von Bargen)
Hisao Imada


It's 1950 on San Pedro Island in the American Pacific Northwest. Commercial fisher Carl Heine Jr.'s dead body is pulled out of the water in a fishing net by his crew, he who died of head trauma. Kazuo Miyamoto is charged with his murder. Carl and Kazuo were once friends, had known each other since childhood, but WWII has placed a strain on any sort of relationship between the ethic Japanese and Caucasian populations of the area, the Japanese population which was and is still substantial on the island. Carl had motive regarding a land dispute between the two families, land which Carl's mother eventually sold from under the Miyamotos and which Carl had just repurchased. Evidence also points to Kazuo being on the water with Carl probably sometime during his last voyage, evidence which Kazuo knew would put him in a bad light, adding on top of being Japanese, and thus decided not to disclose to the investigating sheriff at the time he was questioned. Kazuo and his wife Hatsue's fear come ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


From the director of 'Shine' See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for disturbing images, sensuality and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

7 January 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mientras nieva sobre los cedros  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,135, 26 December 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$14,378,353, 12 March 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ishmael never once pronounces the love of his life's name correctly. He always calls her "Hat-sue", when her name should be pronounced "Ha-Tsu-E". See more »


The Coast Guard form shows Department of Transportation at the top. The movie takes place in the 1950's but the Department of Transportation didn't exist until 1960. See more »


Young Hatsue Imada: Don't be sorry. I'm not.
See more »


Featured in The 72nd Annual Academy Awards (2000) See more »


My Blue Heaven
Written by Walter Donaldson, George Whiting
Performed by the Canada Dance Band
(A Sub-Unit of the Canadian Band of the Allied Expeditionary Force)
See more »

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User Reviews

Love in the Cold
27 May 2000 | by See all my reviews

Snow Falling on Cedars

Nominated for best cinematography, this film deserved to give American Beauty a better run for its money. Sadly savaged by many critics, who seemed to fail to grasp the depth of the story and the beauty with which it was told because they were too busy analyzing the parts. Snow Falling on Cedars follows a mixed race love that is complicated by the onset of war. The reactions of the two principle characters betrays not only how human love can transcend itself into something greater but how those involved can find fulfillment in themselves through its sacrifice. The exquisite symbolism (you could write a book on the different things snow could symbolize after watching this) is never overplayed - in other words, the viewer can enjoy the film as entertainment without having "deeper meanings" rammed down their throat - but they are there in abundance, from the way the scenery is developed to small details such as the main character's name ("Ishmael" - meaning "He whom God hears").

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