Snow Falling on Cedars (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
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Ethan Hawke stars in this "riveting tale of mystery" (FOX-TV) based on the award-winning best-selling novel. A murder trial has upset the quiet community of San Piedro, and now this tranquil village has become the center of controversy. For Ishamael Chambers (Hawke), a local reporter, the trial strikes a deep emotional chord when he finds his ex-lover is linked to the case. As he investigates the killing, he uncovers some startling clues that lead him to a shocking discovery. Co-starring James Cromwell, Sam Shepard and Max Von Sydow, Snow Falling on Cedars is "hypnotic, mesmerizing and inspiring" (ABC-TV).
Australian director Scott Hicks's follow-up to his widely beloved Shine comes as a small shock. Based on David Guterson's bestselling novel, Snow Falling on Cedars is far removed from the character-driven, pure storytelling of Shine and a comparative plunge into moody atmospherics. Action insinuates itself through the director's determined eye for watercolor composition and free-floating perspective, like random shoots of new growth in an overwhelming rain forest. It's impossible to be complacent as a viewer because Hicks's meditative style paradoxically forces one to locate and make the story happen internally.
The approach makes good aesthetic sense in that Guterson's story couches courtroom drama in dreamy textures, and Hicks is determined to reflect that even if it means turning an audience's idea of narrative on its head. He also gets a lot of help from the weather in the Pacific Northwest: the setting is one of Washington State's San Juan Islands, where rain embraces earth and sky in a singular, introverted personality. There, a Japanese American war hero (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) stands accused of murdering a white fisherman in the years following World War II. His wife (Youki Kudoh) is the former childhood sweetheart and lover of a local newspaperman (Ethan Hawke) whose bitterness over the loss--as well as his helplessness during the internment of Japanese Americans, and the crusading legacy of his journalist father (Sam Shepard)--prevents him from coming to the defense of the accused man.
Layered emotions, layered sensations, layered clouds. This is historical fiction of a sort that works best as an experience of time's relativity: flowing, stopping, trickling. Ironically, the film's most commercial element, the trial, is the least interesting aspect, though old pro Max Von Sydow makes those scenes great fun as a wily defense counsel. --Tom Keogh
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Top Customer Reviews
SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS is a lush, beautifully done film, with an Oscar worthy von Sydow performance; it's hard to stay with it, but if you do, I think you'll be rewarded.
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.Read more ›
The title tells it all. The plot is already summed up quite tidily in other reviews. I would just add a few remarks.
English is not Kudoh Yuki's native language. In this movie she does one better than Meryl Streep by actually demonstrating mastery of an entire foreign language by speaking American English with an American accent. Of course, she was already good at it, but we have to remember that Hatsue, being born and bred on American shores, was a native speaker. I thought Kudoh was very convincing. Yes, acting is not all about utterances, and her facial expressions may have been formulaic to some point, but this movie is worth watching just for seeing Ms. Kudoh do her stuff.
And the movie had a profound message. Because of that and the fact that the story took place in a part of the world I was born in, I found the two hours generally satisfying.
Here and there I found the behavior of the characters mystifying - especially crowd behavior.
Why, for example, the silent march to the ferry dock? Forced evacuation of citizens based solely on race was truly a glaring violation of the Bill of Rights, but it was not mass genocide. The long walk scene was as drawn-out as it was grim. It featured a nagging bass in the soundtrack and dejected victims stunned to silence. Together they portrayed a stark black-and-white simplicity that I would question. I imagine that at least the children would still be children and think they were all taking part in some community outing. While the scene captured a certain psychological truth, it also was a bit too heavy-handed. We of the here-and-now know far too much and they knew way too little.
But the movie is definitely worth the time and money.
What I'd like to know, though, is why did they bother to shoot this in color?
Most recent customer reviews
This is an exceptional movie, which remains quite true to the original book. The acting is superb, and the story moves along in a manner which one would expect, having read the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by John Harley Whitlock
very, very good movie. really enjoyed it. Not disappointed at all with the choice I've made . Love conquer everythingPublished on Jan. 5 2014 by Terry D'Astous
Hi, I just finished watching SFOC and I thought it was amazing. Why do the critics fawn all over horrible movies and blast good ones? I guess we'll never know. Read morePublished on Dec 2 2003
'Snow Falling on cedars' -adapted from David Guterson's novel- is about a murder trial, about racism and about a love that couldn't last. Read morePublished on Aug. 23 2003 by Pieter de Rooij
It is encouraging that in a growing number of ways, Americans are looking back and doing some self-criticism on issues like social and racial discrimination. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2003 by Dude
Naturally, a movie is rarely as good as the novel, and Snow Falling on Cedars doesn't break this guideline. Read morePublished on July 3 2003 by Susan
It's not a bad film and is to be commended for powerfully capturing the forcing of Americans of Japanese descent into crudely made, wooden shacks in the middle of deserts or dry... Read morePublished on July 1 2003 by Miami Nights
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