New This Week
Snow Falling on Cedars is a film worth discovering or rediscovering, whichever the case may be.
The new 4K transfer and restoration by Shout Select was supervised by three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson (JFK, The Aviator, Hugo) who earned the fourth of his nine Oscar nominations so far for the film. Also included are brand-new on-camera interviews with Richardson, director Scott Hicks, novelist David Guterson, and composer James Newton Howard. Hicks’ commentary on the 2000 DVD of the 1999 film was imported for the Blu-ray.
Hicks’ commentary helps answer a lot of questions about the film which can be confusing at times. The director explains that this was intentional, that there are three mysteries in the film: the question of the guilt or innocence of the man on trial, the mystery surrounding the long-ago romance of the local investigative reporter and the wife of the man on trial, and the clarity of the event in the opening sequence in the fog.
The film takes place in 1950 when racial tensions ran high between the predominantly white residents of a small island off the coast of the State of Washington in the Pacific Northwest and the Japanese-Americans who were rounded up after the attack on Pearl Harbor and bused to concentration camps in California.
The film’s story is told in non-linear fashion beginning with the death of a fisherman (Eric Thal), the investigation into his death by the town sheriff (Richard Jenkins), and the arrest of his neighbor (Rick Yune) with whom he had an argument earlier that day. It then moves to the courtroom where his trial takes place, presided over by judge James Cromwell with James Rebhorn as the prosecutor and Max von Sydow as the defense counsel. The rest of the film goes back and forth between events in the present and memories of previous events in the minds of the witnesses as a reporter (Ethan Hawke) looks for evidence that the sheriff and his crew may have missed.