Snow Falling On Cedars appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though the image didn’t dazzle, it usually worked fine.
Overall definition seemed good. Occasional instances of mild softness occurred, but those caused no major distractions, so the majority of the film came across as well-defined.
I saw no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, and no edge enhancement appeared. The movie showed gentle grain, and in terms of print flaws, I saw a couple of small specks but nothing prominent.
Colors weren't much of an issue for Cedars, as the winter seaside environment didn't exactly suggest "Technicolor spectacular". The palette tended toward a sepia feel. Muted though they were, the hues seemed consistently solid and accurate within stylistic choices.
Black levels appeared good and shadow detail was good. Many scenes occurred in low light, but they never looked murky or too opaque. Despite a few soft shots and some minor print flaws, this became an appealing presentation.
The film's DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine for the story. With a character focus, only a smattering of scenes opened up the soundscape.
Most of those concentrated on water-based exteriors, so shots on boats and beaches added involvement. A few war flashbacks made decent use of the spectrum, and quieter elements added a good sense of place. Not much of this seemed impressive, but it suited the tale.
Audio quality appeared positive. Speech was acceptably natural, with good intelligibility and no issues connected to edginess. Music came across as reasonably lively and bright, with pretty positive range.
Effects usually stayed subdued throughout the film. They were accurate and concise, so while they usually didn’t pack much of a punch, but they were clean and distinctive. The soundtrack seemed more than satisfying for this sort of effort.
We get a handful of extras here, and we begin with an audio commentary from co-writer/director Scott Hicks. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the source and its adaptation, story/characters, themes, cast and performances, sets and locations, visual design and photography, editing, and connected domains.
Recorded for the original DVD, Hicks brings a fairly good overview here. I can’t claim this ever becomes a dynamic track, but Hicks offers an informative take on the film, so the commentary merits a listen.
With Accident Rules, we find a 51-minute, 39-second documentary that brings notes from Hicks, novelist David Guterman, director of photography Robert Richardson and composer James Newton Howard.
“Rules” covers the novel and its move to the screen, photography, cast and performances, audio and music, and the movie’s reception. Inevitably, some of this repeats from Hicks’ commentary, but we get enough new material to make the program worthwhile.
Next comes A Fresh Snow, a 10-minute, 12-second reel with Richardson as he discusses the movie’s new transfer. Potentially controversially, he talks about how he didn’t attempt to make the Blu-ray look like the film as presented in 1999. That’s surprising, but it’s interesting to hear Richardson’s rationale.
A period featurette, Spotlight on Location lasts 21 minutes, 43 seconds and offers comments from Hicks, Guterson, Richardson, Howard, producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, co-writer Ron Bass, Bainbridge Island Japanese Community president Frank Kitamoto, extras Fumiko and Natalie Hayashida, and actors Ethan Hawke, Max von Sydow, Sam Shepard, Rick Yune and Youki Kudoh.
“Spotlight” discusses the novel and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, research, photography, music, and connected domains. Though “Spotlight” exists as a promo piece, it proves surprisingly informative.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with nine Deleted Scenes. These fill a total of 21 minutes, 59 seconds.
Many of these offer additional background for Kazuo, and we also find more courtroom material. Some minor expansions occur but nothing especially memorable.
At its heart, Snow Falling On Cedars brings a rich tale of racism, justice and relationships. However, the movie treats the subject matter a little too superficially to really deliver the goods. The Blu-ray offers solid picture as well as appropriate audio and a fairly solid roster of bonus materials. Cedars does enough right to merit a look, but don’t expect greatness.