Snow Falling on Cedars (1999)



Critic Consensus: Though Snow Falling on Cedars is beautiful to look at, critics say the story becomes dull and tedious to sit through.

Movie Info

On a wintry Pacific Northwest island community in 1950, a quiet fisherman stands trial for murder. It looks like a straightforward case of cold-blooded homicide. But as the trial unfolds, the simple story of the man's death unravels into a deeply haunting mystery and an extraordinary tale about the persistence of hate and the power of love.

Rating: PG-13 (for disturbing war images, sensuality and brief strong language)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: David Guterson, Ron Bass, Ronald Bass, Scott Hicks
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 30, 2000
Universal Studios - Official Site


as Ishmael Chambers

as Judge Fielding

as Nels Gudmundsson

as Hatsue

as Kazuo Miyamoto

as Alvin Hooks

as Arthur Chambers

as Sheriff Art Moran

as Young Ishmael Chambe...

as Young Hatsue Imada

as Ole Jurgensen

as Susan Marie Heine

as Carl Heine Jr.

as Etta Heine

as Dr.Whitman

as Carl Heine

as Hisao Imada

as Fujiko Imada

as Zenhichi Miyamoto

as Deputy Abel Martinso...

as Horace Whaley

as Helen Chambers

as Ole Jurgensen

as Liesel Jurgensen

as Dr. Whitman

as Young Kazuo Miyamoto

as Sumiko Imada

as Yukiko Imada

as Bus Driver

as Nagaishi

as German Soldier

as Ship's Doctor

as Bailiff

as Buddhist Priest

as Gas Station Attendan...

as Singing Girl

as Strawberry Girl

as Strawberry Woman

as Parade Boy with Stic...

as Fisherman

as Fisherman

as Reporter

as Reporter

as Reporter

as FBI Agent

as FBI Agent

as Heine Child

as Heine Child
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News & Interviews for Snow Falling on Cedars

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Critic Reviews for Snow Falling on Cedars

All Critics (108) | Top Critics (28)

A disappointment.

January 1, 2000
Associated Press
Top Critic

The actors are valiant, but not bulletproof against the screenplay's almost obsessive romanticism.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

Too faithful to the many time shifts, plot points and layered meanings of David Guterson's best-selling novel, robbing the movie of dramatic tension.

January 1, 2000
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Casting Hawke as Ishmael Chambers in a mediocre movie version of Snow Falling on Cedars is pretty much the kiss of death.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Shot either in extreme, eye-swelling close-ups or in excessively composed, arty landscapes, I now know more about the blood vessels in these actors' noses than I care to.

Full Review… | July 5, 2011
Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Good movie for adults and older teens.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

Audience Reviews for Snow Falling on Cedars

Beautiful performances, cinematography, editing, and score. BUT I must say watching this film again with a total paranoid cynic who doesn't think films should get wrapped up in the awesomeness of their own beauty has harshed my mellow a bit. The montages and flashback/forward editing ARE slightly self-indulgent and they take time away from the most iconic (3 second) shot of the movie - that of the Japanese internment camp prisoners walking on the docks under a blissfully ignorant American flag. If you're gonna make a statement, damn well make it right!

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

This is the first movie I've ever seen that addressed the issue of the Japanese internment during WWII (aside from the fleeting reference in Midway) -- It shows how Childhood friendship pays off in adulthood -- I loved it!

Tom Ericksen

Super Reviewer


When an american-japanese fisherman is accused of murdering an childhood friend in the shadow of WWII, Ethan Hawke finds himself trapped in a crisis of conscience when he comes across possible evidence of his innocence. This is a beautifully crafted, very literary period drama in which the courtroom scenes are intercut with flashbacks from the lives of the various protagonists to produce a rich tapestry of motives, prejudices and conflicts of interest that affect their actions. It's beautifully shot in gorgeous snow-laden countryside, with a sensitive and pivotal performance by Youki Kudoh, while Max Von Sydow dominates the courtroom scenes in his inimitable style. It reminded me a little of a chilly English Patient. Except it's good.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Snow Falling on Cedars Quotes

– Submitted by Chad E (4 years ago)

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