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Still shot from the movie: Snow Falling On Cedars.

Snow Falling On Cedars

Although it has been nine years since the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kazuo Miyamoto (Rick Yume) knows the prejudice in his Washington State home has not eased any -- and that is a problem because he is now a suspect in a murder investigation. His only hope of a fair trail is Ishmael Chambers (Ethan Hawke), a journalist and Japanese sympathizer. But Ishmael may have other reasons for not wanting to help Kazuo. Get the movie review and more. »

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Overall: C+ 2.5
Violence: C-
Sexual Content: C-
Language: C
Drugs/Alcohol: B
Run Time: 127
Theater Release: 07 Jan 2000
Video Release: 30 May 2000
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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Is there any part of World War II that hasn't been analyzed, fictionalized, or movie-ized? Snow Falling On Cedars examines a moment of shame that most Americans and Canadians have chosen to ignore.

Snow Falling On Cedars - Official Site Even though nine years have passed since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Kazuo Miyamoto (Rick Yume) feels there is little hope of defending himself when he is accused of murder. After all, the jury is made up of citizens who watched the government round up Japanese immigrants, strip them of their property, and take them to internment camps. His three-day trial (and a series of flashbacks presented in random chronology) will test both his motives and those of the Pacific Northwest community where he grew up.

Snow Falling On Cedars - Official Site For Ishmael Chambers (Ethan Hawke), owner of the local newspaper, the case brings back the teachings of his father who publicly defended the American Japanese during the war. His anti-prejudice influence helped Ishmael to fall in love with young Hatsue (Youki Kudoh). But things are far more complicated now because Hatsue is married to Kazuo (the defendant).

This film uses the romance between Ishmael and Hatsue to magnify the tragic persecution of innocent American (and Canadian) Japanese immigrants. However the couple's frequent secret meetings in the forest lead to scenes of teen sensuality, including one implying they have had intercourse (although Hatsue later denies having done so). Two other unnecessary scenes portray married adults in sexual activities, with obscured or hidden nudity.

Snow Falling On Cedars - Official Site The artistic and beautiful cinematography contributes to the chilling tone, however many flashbacks of war and fighting (although somewhat justified) may trouble some viewers. Dead and severely injured soldiers are depicted, including an arm that is graphically amputated.

The portrayal of this wrongful treatment of the Japanese people is overdue. While this movie intends to help us understand this history, the sexual content and violence may pose concerns to parents wanting to share it with their family.

Snow Falling On Cedars is rated PG-13: for disturbing images, sensuality and brief strong language.

Director: Scott Hicks
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Yûki Kudô, Reeve Carney
Studio: 1999 Universal Studios

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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