Snow Falling on Cedars

"OK"

Snow Falling on Cedars Review


The transformation of an intricate novel into a successful film can be a daunting task. Filmmakers must effectively generate symbolism and imagery onto the screen, instead of allowing the readers to interpret it for themselves. That's why people are always saying that a movie was never as good as the book.

Unfortunately, Snow Falling on Cedars, directed by Scott Hicks (Shine), is a prime example of an unsuccessful interpretation of a tremendous novel.

Set in 1951 on a fictional island called San Piedro, just north of Puget Sound, Kazuo Miyamoto (Rick Yune), an American-born man of Japanese descent, is on trial for murder. In this small town, the Anglo and Japanese-American populations had long lived in relative harmony until Pearl Harbor dragged half the town's population into internment camps. Kazuo was a veteran of the war and served in the US military, but despite his ranking and valor, he is stigmatized as a "Jap" and faces long odds in the racially polarized town. Ethan Hawke (Reality Bites) plays Ishmael Chambers, the local reporter who may have evidence crucial to Kazuo's innocence. But Ishmael's past links him to Kazuo's wife Hatsue Miyamoto (Youki Koudo), whom he loved as a child in a forbidden romance. As the trial unfolds, and the outcome doesn't look good for Kazuo, Ishmael must decide to whether or not to intervene.

What takes pages and pages of complex thought and explanation for character development in a book seems merely happenstance when explained in the context of a two-hour film. For example, we know that Ishmael's character is morally astute, but the movie fails to portray just how difficult it is for him to help absolve Kazuo from guilt. Why would he wait when someone's life was hanging in the balance? Another problem is the film's editing. Attempting to get its arms around a vast amount of information, it confusingly bounces back and forth from childhood, to war, to funerals, to internment camp, to weddings, and so on. This montage blending of past with present tries to chop together a dozen plot elements that don't make sense. Example: halfway through the film, we learn that Ishmael went to war and lost his arm. Are we supposed to interpret his indifference toward Kazuo's fate as revenge for his battle wound that he blames on his lost love for Miyamoto? I have no idea.

With a large ensemble cast of impressive actors, a lot of the talent was wasted on roles that were limited because the film was in a constant time warp. However, Max Von Sydow plays an Oscar-worthy supporting role as the attorney assigned to defend Kazuo. His demeanor is grandly stoic as he is faced with a tremendous task.

Do yourself a favor and read the book. In the two hours and five minutes that it takes to watch the film, you can probably make a significant dent into the novel, and it'll probably cost the same. Unless you buy popcorn at the theater, that would make the movie more expensive.

Kudoh: Falling down.



Snow Falling on Cedars

Facts and Figures

Run time: 127 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th January 2000

Distributed by: Universal Studios

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, The Kennedy/Marshall Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 36 Rotten: 55

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Harry J. Ufland

Starring: as Ishmael Chambers, as Hatsue Imada Miyamoto, as Young Ishmael Chambers, Anne Suzuki as Young Hatsue Imada, as Kazuo Miyamoto, as Nels Gudmundsson, as Alvin Hooks, as Judge Fielding, as Sheriff Art Moran, as Susan Marie Heine, as Carl Heine Jr., as Etta Heine, as Carl Heine Sr.

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.