Comparing Novel and Film Version of Snow Falling on Cedars Essay

Comparing Novel and Film Version of Snow Falling on Cedars Essay

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Comparing Novel and Film Version of Snow Falling on Cedars


It is no easy task to create a work - through writing or film - that has an impact on society. In writing, one must discuss and analyze a relevant topic that will have an impact on the readers. One must also present stunning sensory images through words in order to create a complete understanding for the reader. In filmmaking it is not much different, but there must be striking visual imagery in combination with a fitting musical score in order to give the viewer of the film the full experience. There must also be historical accuracy, both in writing and film. In either case, it can take years to create such a captivating piece of work. David Guterson's novel Snow Falling on Cedars and its cinematic counterpart of the same name combine all of the aspects of good writing and filmmaking to create an emotionally provocative and historically accurate masterpiece.

           The story of Snow Falling on Cedars was set on a fictional island called San Piedro, somewhere in the Puget Sound area. The island had a thick history of generations of prejudice disguised by immigrant strawberry farmer life. The island was home to descendents of German, Swedish, English, and Japanese ancestry. When the Second World War arose, the people immediately panicked and reacted poorly to the Japanese American citizens. The story follows the lives of these Japanese Americans through their painful internment by the American government for what they termed the 'good of the union.' The story is also centered on several other subplots, including a biracial romance between a young couple, as well as the death of a white island fisherman named Carl Heine, Jr., and the trial of the Japan...


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...racy and leads the reader or viewer to develop an intense emotional involvement with the story line. Both the novel and the film are remarkably vivid with the use of imagery and theme. The snow falling upon the cedars, as the prevalent image in both versions, functions as a beautiful metaphor begging for interpretation. The themes about the complexities of the human heart and the random distribution of both good and bad fortune are reinforced throughout the entirety of each work. The original work of pure genius - the novel, of course - deserves the credit for the incredible story behind Snow Falling on Cedars, but it is clear that the film followed in its antecedent's path with ease.

Works Cited

Guterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Snow Falling on Cedars. Screenplay by Ron Bass and Scott Hicks, Universal Pictures, 1999.

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