6.7/10
13,421
195 user 99 critic

Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)

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

Director:

Scott Hicks

Writers:

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

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ethan Hawke ... Ishmael Chambers
Yûki Kudô ... Hatsue Miyamoto (as Youki Kudoh)
Reeve Carney ... Young Ishmael Chambers
Anne Suzuki ... Young Hatsue Imada
Rick Yune ... Kazuo Miyamoto
Max von Sydow ... Nels Gudmundsson (as Max Von Sydow)
James Rebhorn ... Alvin Hooks
James Cromwell ... Judge Fielding
Richard Jenkins ... Sheriff Art Moran
Arija Bareikis ... Susan Marie Heine
Eric Thal ... Carl Heine Jr.
Celia Weston ... Etta Heine
Daniel von Bargen ... Carl Heine Sr. (as Daniel Von Bargen)
Akira Takayama Akira Takayama ... Hisao Imada
Ako ... Fujiko Imada
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film, like the source novel, is set on San Piedro, a fictional island north of Puget Sound. There, the Anglo and Japanese-American populations have long lived in relative harmony - albeit within a tacit caste system in which immigrants, who are not permitted to own land, work Anglo berry farms. But Japan's shocking action electrifies, and divides, the community. Some people take advantage of their neighbors' tragedy, while others watch in silence as San Piedro's entire Japanese American population is sent into exile. See more »

Goofs

A Coast Guard form, reporting weather and shipping messages, in the lighthouse scene lists the Coast Guard as part of the Department of Transportation, which was created in 1960. The Coast Guard was under the Department of the Treasury until 1967. See more »

Quotes

Young Hatsue Imada: [snuggling] Do you think this is wrong?
Young Ishmael Chambers: Your friends would. Your dad would kill me.
Young Hatsue Imada: My mom is the problem.
Fujiko Imada: [remembering her mother's voice] Stay away from white boys. Marry one of your own kind, whose heart is strong and gentle.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Jan Rubes and Sheila Moore are on the credits despite their scenes being deleted. See more »


Soundtracks

Moon over Burma
Written by Friedrich Hollaender (as Frederick Hollander), Frank Loesser
Performed by Dorothy Lamour
Courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Entertainment
See more »

User Reviews

 
Almost perfect
23 January 2000 | by Steven ReynoldsSee 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.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese | German

Release Date:

7 January 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Snow Falling on Cedars See more »

Filming Locations:

Cathlamet, Washington, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,135, 26 December 1999

Gross USA:

$14,417,593

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$23,049,593
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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