A man accused of murder goes on trial and ignites tensions in a small pacific northwest town forever changing the destinies of the accused his wife and the reporter covering the case. Special features: feature commentary w... more »ith director scott hicks deleted scenes theatrical trailer production notes and more. Studio: Uni Dist Corp. (mca) Release Date: 05/22/2007 Starring: Ethan Hawke Sam Shepard Run time: 128 minutes Rating: Pg13 Director: Scott Hicks« less
Raydene B. (raybo) from SILVER CITY, NM Reviewed on 2/4/2011...
Tells a good story but so slooooooowly it really drags with too many flashbacks and "moody" scenes
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Anick L. from COLUMBIA, SC Reviewed on 2/9/2009...
Beautiful love story and stunning pictures. A mystery and a depiction of Japanese American life in the 1940's and their unfair treatment during the war. A must see!
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Beautiful Story, Difficult to Follow
Matt | 08/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a reader of the excellent book by author David Guterson, I didn't quite know what to expect from a movie version. A book of this caliber and structure is not a book easily made into a movie. But through the collective efforts of the director Scott Hicks and great acting on the parts of Ethan Hawke, Max von-Sydow, and James Cromwell, the majestic beauty of the book comes alive on the silver screen. The only visible problem with the film would be the fact that some people simply won't get it. There are people who just enjoy watching a movie to be entertained, not to have to follow tough plot lines. These are the people that need to avoid a film such as Snow Falling on Cedars. The various plot lines and sub-plot lines revolve around the death of a fisherman, Carl Heine and the ensuing trial of the Japanese man, Kazuo Miyamoto, accused of killing him. The movie takes place during the trial, but flashbacks are heavily used during the testimony of the victim's mother, Etta Heine, as with all the other witnesses. Throughout the movie a different plot line emerges, one of more power and one of love. The plot line revolves around a local reporter named Ishmael Chambers and of his love for the accused man's wife, plus his inescable feelings of loss and regret. Circumstances tore them apart leaving Ishamel to wonder about what might have been. A beautiful story, but one that should only be watched by people that can appreciate the intricacy of the plot."
How the bitterness of the past can haunt one in the present
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 07/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can attest to the adage that the first person one falls in love with is forever, regardless of whether that person gets married to someone else or not. Well, in Snow Falling On Cedars, that sort of past comes back to haunt young reporter Ishmael Chambers when he discovers the husband of his first love Hatsue is being tried for the murder of fisherman/husband/father Carl Heine. The case for the prosecution is that Kazuo, Hatsue's husband, murdered Carl with a flat wooden object, such as a kendo stick (wooden swords used in stick fighting), and all because of the loss of seven acres of land owned by Kazuo's father when Kazuo's family was interned during WW2. Kazuo had demanded the return of the land, but because of two payments missed, his family forfeited the land, which came into Carl's possession. He is defended by an elderly lawyer, Nels Gudmundsson (veteran Swedish actor Max von Sydow in a strong performance), who as a Scandinavian, detects the race issue here. Pearl Harbor has not been forgotten, in other words. All the while, Ishmael sits high up on the balcony of the trial room, observing the defendant and his wife. He is clearly still bitter about the past, as he might have ended up with Hatsue had not circumstances dictated otherwise. This bitterness is manifested when he sits on some information key to Kazuo's defense.Set in the fishing village of San Piedro, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, the film shuttles back and forth between the present, in the 1950's, and the past, in the late 30's to 40's. The film shows Ishmael falling in love with Hatsue Imada, a Japanese girl, and both their mothers disapproving of interracial relationships. The overall overcast setting lends to the forboding, oppressive atmosphere, but it works well in the forest, where Hatsue has a little hidey hole in the depths of a large cedar tree, a clandestine meeting place for the young lovers. However, the dizzying array of echoed and repeated voices, and montages connecting various bits of the past can be rather trying.Of course, the attack on Pearl Harbor stirs up anti-Japanese sentiments, setting the stage for what has been called the largest wholesale violation of civil rights in US history: the rounding up of Japanese-Americans from their homes, confiscation of anything traditional, called "old country", and mass deportation to camps like Manzanar, which is the camp the Miyamotos end up in.However, Ishmael's father, Arthur, the editor of the local paper, is very progressive, and protests the roundups, which leads to threatening calls and cancellations of subscriptions. At the time of the trial, his father has died, and he discovers to his discomfort that his father's liberal reputation is overshadowing him.The Japanese traditions of girls being groomed to be graceful, e.g. sitting on one's knees without moving, the wearing of kimonos, etc. is something my late mother could relate to, as she too was Japanese. Hatsue's mother is one forbidding her relationship to Ishmael. Similarly, my mother's father, had he lived, would never have allowed her to marry my father, otherwise your humble reviewer's race would have been different.While Ethan Hawke does well as the brooding Ishmael, he's overshadowed by other performers, such as von Sydow, Youki Koudoh (Hatsue), and Sam Shepard (Arthur Chambers). As the film progresses, one begins to understand his bitterness.I haven't read Guterson's novel, so I don't know how closely the movie follows it. Regardless, it's a slow-paced movie, but not grabbing at times; somehow, the mixture of adolescent romance, and racial courtroom drama that lacks punch. But the message of learning to let go of the past, and the conditions that would allow one to let go, comes through towards the end."
Spellbinding Mystery Gorgeously Photographed!
Barron Laycock | Temple, New Hampshire United States | 09/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although this movie unfortunately opened to mixed critical reviews, after seeing I have to conclude that it is a film that (in my estimation, at least) comes very close to cinematic perfection. Seldom does one see such a powerfully depicted drama that also features the level of artistic accomplishment in terms of cinematography, accomplished acting, and general story line. Taken from the best-selling novel of the same name, this spellbinding tale of love, mystery and intrigue is set in the Pacific Northwest in the time period right after the end of World War Two, and deals with the undercurrents of deep-seated racism against a group of ethnic Japanese who had made their home for decades on the island depicted in the movie, and who were in many ways the most terribly and unjustly mistreated group within the United States during the war. The movie version of the story is extremely well-told, and Ethan Hawke shows he has the chops to be a major star in his brilliant portrayal of the central figure in the unraveling of the mystery. Likewise, Sam Shepard and the rest of the cast does a sterling job in presenting this drama in a magnificently photographed and choreographed depiction of life and death in the sleepy little harbor where it all unfolds. One of the other reviewers mentioned the way in which the director has used his ability to interweave various elements such as the photography and the acting to spin his tale masterfully, and I have to agree the sum total of this effort is certainly much greater than the parts; the net result is simply terrific. This is a movie that deals with a painful aspect of American history quite well without either looking for easy answers or contriving convenient solutions, but it does manage to let us know that the only way to end such prejudice and fateful discrimination is through individual effort and personal growth. Two thumbs way up in this aisle seat for "Snow Falling On Cedars"."
Very Good With Love Story Being Best Part
carol irvin | United States | 09/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed this movie much more than the novel upon which it was based. This is very unusual for me as it is usually the reverse situation. What I liked best is epitomized on the cover of the box. It shows the heroine as a child and the hero as an adult, even though, in the film, they are at all times the same age. The film, however, shifts atmospherically from their shared life together as children, adolescents and lovers to their lives as full adults. The hero is having a harder time letting go of that shared time together than she is. As adults of around thirty, they are as apart as they once were together. Her same-race (Japanese American) husband is on trial in their town for murdering a local fisherman. The hero is bitterly alone and has taken over his late father's newspaper. That he lost his arm fighting in World War II is part of his bitterness. The trial is the weakest part of the film and I could have done with much less of it. The rest of the film is so beautifully brought to the screen that it is annoying when the "typical" trial scenes play. Normally I love Max Van Sydow, the trial lawyer, but I could have even dispensed with him. Gorgeous cinematography enhances this film greatly. Ethan Hawke, who plays the hero, seems to be choosing his roles very carefully. After this film, he went on to star in "Hamlet 2000", where he was spectacular."