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Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Romance  |  7 January 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 12,140 users   Metascore: 44/100
Reviews: 193 user | 95 critic | 31 from

A U.S. Japanese fisherman may have killed his neighbor Carl at sea. In the 1950s, race figures into the trial. So does reporter Ishmael.



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



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


Carl, a fisherman in the waters off Washington state, has been found dead, drowned in his own nets, but with a serious head wound. Was he murdered? Post-war anti-Japanese sentiments are still running high, and a murder suspect is found in the local Japanese-American community in the form of Kabuo, another fisherman, who had a grudge against Carl's family. Ishmael, the small town's newspaperman, may have the information that would acquit Kabuo, but can he ever put his jilted love for Hatsue (Kazuo's wife) aside? Written by Martin Lewison <>

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:



Official Sites:



| |

Release Date:

7 January 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mientras nieva sobre los cedros  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$36,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$32,135 (USA) (24 December 1999)


£30,243 (UK) (12 May 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Many of the extras in the scene where the Japanese are sent to internment camps were Japanese-Americans who had actually been sent to the camps in the 1940s. See more »


The movie is set in the Pacific Northwest. Twice, shots are shown of the Portland (Maine) Head Light which is on the Atlantic coast. See more »


Ishmael Chambers: I know you'll think this is crazy, but all I want to do is hold you, and I think that if you'll let me do that just for a few seconds, I can walk away, and never speak to you again.
See more »


Featured in Spotlight on Location: Snow Falling on Cedars (2000) See more »


Benny's Boogie
Written and Performed by Clark Gault (as C. Gault)
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User Reviews

Almost perfect
23 January 2000 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Adapting this novel with its tricky, time-shifting narrative was always going to be a big task, but Scott Hicks' sumptuous and elegant film very nearly pulls it off. Hicks and co-writer Ron Bass move quickly into the courtroom and wisely use the trial to drive the plot, telling the backstory - the real story in this case - through a finely-woven complex of flashbacks. The difficulty is that this story is a rich, long and emotional tale which requires a fair degree of exposition for it to be satisfying. The screenplay is superbly economical in this regard, but there is no escaping the fact that the only way to cover so much ground in a film of tolerable length is to fly over it at 30,000 feet. The necessarily distant treatment this requires occasionally dilutes the emotional force which would have come from a more thorough and leisurely telling. Hicks strives valiantly to compensate with a powerfully emotive score - this works, but it doesn't always hit the mark. Rather than engendering emotion, James Newton Howard's musical is often so insistently overpowering that it locks the audience out. On occasions I felt strangely alienated by a wall of sound when I knew I should have been in tears. But that's a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent production. Overall, this is an intelligent and considered adaptation - probably the best that could be made from a novel which would have been incredibly difficult to bring to the screen. It's solidly acted, immaculately lit, and offers some of the most achingly beautiful imagery to illuminate the screen in years (the opening shots are magnificent). Most rewarding of all is the fact that Scott Hicks takes some real stylistic risks with this film. They don't always pay off, but when they do it's magical.

27 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I LOVE this movie, but... queen_supreme-1
too many flashbacks spookvile0803
hatsue never love ismael? antiquegirl12
Hatsu Jen175
love this movie natz62
End of Movie spikedmort
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