6.7/10
13,318
194 user 98 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 »

Photos

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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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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese | German

Release Date:

7 January 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mientras nieva sobre los cedros 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was Scott Hicks's second film to be nominated for an Academy Award. The first, Shine (1996), got seven Oscar nominations with one win in 1997. See more »

Goofs

Young Ishmael has amber brown eyes. Adult Ishmael has greenish hazel eyes. See more »

Quotes

Arthur Chambers: That's the thing with girls. They grew up and break your heart.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Would You
Written by Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen
Performed by Bing Crosby
Courtesy of MCA Records under License from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Magnificent - the best of the year.
27 January 2000 | by junk.mail.onlySee all my reviews

This film stands apart from the standard, sometimes clever, seldom memorable work that passes too often for Oscar fare nowadays. It is a film about life and death, love and betrayal, passion and pain, forgiveness and redemption. It is about the power of emotion to influence perception and memory. It is about justice and truth.

But that is not why you should see it; You should see it for the story. For this film is so finely crafted, and the story unfolds so naturally, that it is easy to appreciate for the simple compelling drama of the narrative. You care about the characters, you care about how the trial turns out, and you ache to know the truth.

The plot centers around a murder trial of a Japanese man charged in the death of a local fisherman, and on a white reporter covering the trial. It turns out the reporter had once been in love with a Japanese woman, now the accused man's wife. This romance was shattered as World War II broke out, and the young woman and her family were rounded up with other Japanese Americans, and interred in camps.

The story that unfolds is part "Casablanca", part "Amistad", part "To Kill a Mockingbird", yet wholly original and true to itself. It is at once a tender love story, a lesson in history, a murder mystery, and more.

The story of each of the main characters is told through flashbacks that reveal how each of them has suffered because of the war and how each has to overcome this suffering. Many of the most compelling images of the film occur in these flashbacks. Like real lasting memories, they are moments of deep emotional significance, and include many images which you will carry in your own mind long after you have left the theater.

If you look for them you may also find some symbolic or allegorical images in the film (the boat's mast resembles a cross; the fish could also be seen as a Christian symbol of sacrifice), but these elements are not heavy handed or forced, they occur naturally as important elements of the story which is set in a small fishing village on the Northwestern coast of the US in the years surrounding World War II.

While I have seen many reviewers comment on how beautifully filmed and well acted this film is, I have seen a few who have somehow failed to appreciate the significance of the story. My only caution on this account is, take care that you are not so blinded by beauty, that you fail to notice love.

In short, I found this to be a brilliant, deep, uplifting engrossing, and highly satisfying film experience.


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