Racism Toward Japanese-Americans in the Film, Snow Falling on Cedars

Powerful Essays
Racism Towards Japanese-Americans in the Film, Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars, co-directed by Scott Hicks and Ron Bass, is a film set in 1950 on the fictional island of San Piedro, north of Puget Sound in Washington. The film depicts the abhorrent attitude and actions of Caucasians toward Japanese-Americans in the early 1940's during the time of World War II. Based on the novel by David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars is primarily set on the murder investigation of Kazuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American accused of killing a Caucasian fisherman, Carl Heine as "an act of revenge" (Stratton 16). While the courtroom acts as the main focus for this film, through the progression of the trial we are given pieces of information observed through flashbacks into the past of main character Ishmael Chambers, a reporter for the islands' local newspaper and his past relationship with Hatsue Miyamoto, the wife of accused Kazuo Miyamoto. As we re-live Ishmael's past and the teenage love affair between him and Hatsue, we are also onlookers into the interning of the Japanese-Americans and the carelessly cruel manner in which they were treated.

In order for me to adequately present my thesis on the issue of the merits of Snow Falling on Cedars, to portray historically and accurately a sensitive chapter in our national history, I will present a clear and concise background understanding of the central theme of this film, and the novel from which it was based. This central theme is the issue of racism as it relates to the Japanese-American internment during World War II and the years following. What awards did this novel and film receive? What did the reviewers have to say about the film and its content? Finally, what a...

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Snow Falling on Cedars. Dir. Scott Hicks and Ron Bass. Videocassette. Universal

Studios, 1999.

Smith, Page. Jacket Notes. Democracy on Trial: The Japanese American Evacuation and

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Stratton, David. "Trial by Emotion." The Australian. (1999):16-17. LexisNexis

Academic. LexisNexis. University of Puget Sound Library, Wa. 10 November 2003. <>.

Sturken, Marita. Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic, and the

Politics of Remembering. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Stacey. Film News. 2 December 2003.


Stacey. Robert Richardson. 2 December 2003.