"Notoriously under-recognised on its theatrical release in 1999, Snow Falling On
Cedars deserves - perhaps even needs - subsequent viewing. Here is your chance par
excellence. The film process devised by Bob Richardson and Scott Hicks - the bleach bypass
processing method - looks just as fabulous on the DVD as it does on the bigger screen. And
the quality of the images is amply matched by a notably intelligent adaptation and
outstanding performances. But while the cinema experience - complete with its atmosphere
and sense of occasion - is superior in some ways, there are tremendous advantages in DVD
viewing which are maximised here. The 20 minute Spotlight On Location is a great feature,
informative and interesting - and involving. It contains interviews with cast and crew as
well as general on location footage.
Deleted scenes (eight of them) is a generous feature, as if Hicks couldn't bear the
thought of simply leaving these scenes in the bin. My favourite is the flashback Hicks
talks about between the young Kazuo and his father, with the symbolic sword of honour.
The text based production notes and cast/crew biographies are complemented by a brief
but fascinating background on Manzanar, the Japanese internment camp, which tells us -
amongst other things - that many of the young Japanese men had the chance to volunteer for
army duty. And how the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of Japanese Americans
suffered 9000 casualties in Italy and France - and became the most decorated unit in US
But it is director Scott Hicks's commentary "about what was going on in my mind
when we were making this movie," that stands out as the most impressive feature.
Speaking in almost a whisper, as if he were sitting beside us in the cinema talking while
we watched, Hicks sticks to the essence of the entire process; to him the film is about
revealing truths and shedding light on the three mysteries the story deals with. He points
out how this basic notion was behind the decisions to often shoot characters behind glass,
or half obscured by a curtain or a courtroom handrail.
But it's as much about substance as style, and as much about character as about story.
Hicks reveals himself to be a thoughtful, even profound filmmaker, with a well
developed sense of metaphor and symbolism. His commentary is full of intelligence and
passion for the film, making us participants in the final result. He strives to make sure
the film is as rich an experience for us as it was for him. In this, he excels and makes
the DVD a collector's essential."
Andrew L. Urban