Set in the Pacific Northwest in the years following World War II, Snow Falling on Cedars is an adaptation of David Guterson’s best-selling novel. When local fishermen Carl Heine Jr.’s (Eric Thal) body is pulled from the water, his estranged childhood friend, Japanese American Kabuo Miyamoto (Rick Yune) is charged with his murder. The Sheriff (Richard Jenkins) and the prosecutor (James Rebhorn) believe Kabuo killed Heine over a real estate deal. Kabuo’s father was in the process of buying seven acres of land in installments. However, before the final payments could be made, the family was sent to an internment camp.
The only person doing a real investigation of the case is local reporter Ishmael Chambers (Ethan Hawke) who also owns the newspaper. Chambers wants to be fair, but he’s not without issues. A World War II veteran, Chambers lost his arm while fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Islands. Perhaps more problematic, he’s still in love with Kabou’s wife Hatsue Miyamoth (Youki Kudoh). She was forbidden to marry him when they were much younger.
Director Scott Hicks uses flashbacks to the point that it diminishes the impact of the story. Every time the viewer starts to follow the characters, the movie jumps right into another long line of flashbacks. Having said that, Snow Falling on Cedars remains worth a watch because the visuals are gorgeous, and the acting is strong. The great Max von Sydow plays the lawyer of the accused. His summation scene is a master class in acting. All of the courtroom scenes create some interest.
Presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, Shout Factory’s new 4K transfer and restoration were supervised by cinematographer Robert Richardson. Definition is strong across the board. A few instances of mild softness occurred but caused no major distraction. Shimmering or Edge enhancement isn’t an issue. Colors look appropriately dark and bleached. Even many indoor scenes are dark, with light shone on faces. Snow is a major visual element. It often lines the streets and helps to create photographic views.
The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack works fine for the story. Ambient sounds–a fog horn, swaying water, rain–establishes the film’s atmosphere. James Newton Howard’s score always sounds appropriately somber. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio Commentary with Director/Co-writer Scott Hicks: In this running, screen-specific commentary, Hicks offers a discussion of the film and its source, the story, characters, themes, cast, performances, sets, locations, etc.
- Accident Rules (HD, 51:39) A look back at the film Director/Co-Writer Scott Hicks, Novelist David Guterson, Director of Photography Robert Richardson, and Composer James Newton Howard.
- A Fresh Snow (HD, 10:12) Robert Richardson discusses the new transfer. He explains why he didn’t attempt to make the Blu-ray look like the film as presented in 1999.
- Spotlight on Location (HD, 21:43) The original making of special. Cast and crew discuss bringing the novel to the screen. Typical EPK.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:29)
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 21:59) Nine scenes in total.
Snow Falling On Cedars (1999)
Movie title: Snow Falling On Cedars
Duration: 127 min.
Director(s): Scott Hicks
Actor(s): Ethan Hawke, Yûki Kudô , Reeve Carney , Anne Suzuki , Rick Yune , Max von Sydow
Genre: Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Drama