I first saw Snow Falling on Cedars when I was about nine or ten years old, when it first came out, and we (we; being, myself, my mum and grandparents and I think uncle Terry) watched it in my grandparents living room in Canada. Of course, I didn't understand it at the time and only remembered it vaguely, most of the memories, being the flash backs of Ishmael and Hatsue as kids playing on the beach. A good eight or seven years later, (I'm not certain of this, but my review of the book was written in 2007) I read the book and fell in love with it and wanted to see the movie again. Living in Thailand and being an obscure movie, I could never find it and just had to wait until I got to Australia in June 2009. (That's right, I had to wait two years, two freaking years, but hey, many things happened in between) when I did finally see it, it was a rush of love all over again. Thanks to the fact I actually understood it this time. I only just bought my own copy off of Ebay over Christmas! its amazing I waited so long to finally own it. I'm also in the process of re-reading the novel again.
The thing is, the love story, even though poignant, is secondary to the main story, which is a trial about an innocent man, named Kabou Miyamoto a Japanese fisherman accused of murdering Carl Heine, a fellow fisherman. Racism and the effects of war on humanity are the major themes, not to mention a very interesting part of American history, about the Japanese evacuation from their homes to relocation camps during WWII. Our protagonist is Ishmael Chambers who was in a clandestine love affair with Kabou's wife, Hatsue, when they were teenagers. Ishmael is the local and sole reporter of the fictional island of San Piedro and is writing an article about the trial how ever, this trial, for Ishmael has struck a personal note, for obvious reasons.
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