Snow Falling On Cedars
written by Ron Bass & Scott Hicks, from the novel by David Guterson
Nels: There is no evidence of anger at Carl, much less rage, much less murderous rage. No reason for premeditation and no evidence of it. Anywhere. (Nels stands very still. Hands resting on the rail. As calm and quiet as his adversary had been dramatic.)
Nels: He had asked his childhood friend Carl to sell him some land. And Carl was considering it. (Leans forward. Just a little.) Carl's own wife testified that her husband had not made up his mind! Strange moment to follow and kill a man, don't you think? (He spreads his palms.) And yet the state is required to prove these things. Beyond. A reasonable. Doubt. (His eyes widen) There is more than reasonable doubt, but reasonable doubt is all that's needed. Why is Kazuo's D-6 battery in Carl's well, if Carl was helping him? Why? Isn't the blood on the gaff more consistent with Carl's hand wound than a skull fracture? Given the absence ofbone fragments or brain tissue. (And now. he begins to pace, limping slightly, eyes down.) What Mr. Hooks asks you to believe is that no proof is needed. Against a man who bombed Pearl Harbor. Look at his face, the prosecutor said. Presuming that you will see an enemy there. He is counting on you to remember this war. And to see Kazuo Miyamoto as somehow connected with it. (He stops. Looks at the jury..) And indeed he is. Let us recall that First Lieutenant Kazuo Miyamoto is a much decorated hero of the United States Army. (The feeling wells in the old man. It bleeds through the very quietness of his voice. He leans his elbows on their rail, as if confiding in them.) Now Kazuo Miyamoto did one thing wrong. He wasn't certain he could trust us. He was afraid that he would be made a victim of prejudice. As Mr. Hooks is urging you to do. (Silence.) And there's reason in his uncertainty. Why? We sent him. And his wife. And thousands of Americans to concentration camps. They lost homes, belongings, everything. Can we now be unforgiving of his mistrust?
(Looking in their eyes. As if waiting for an answer. They shift their weight, fidget beneath his gaze.) Nels: Now our learned prosecutor would have you do your duty as Americans. Proud Americans. Of course you must. And if you do, Kazuo Miyamoto has nothing to fear because this great country is supposed to be founded on a set of principles. Of fairness. Equality. Justice. And if you are true to these principles, you will only convict a man for what he has done. Not for who he is. (He holds their gaze) I am an old man. I do not walk so well anymore, and one of my eyes is close to useless. My life is drawing to a close. Why do I say this? I say this because it means I ponder matters in the light of death in a way that you do not. I feel like a traveller descended from Mars, astonished at what passes here. What I see is the same human frailty passed from generation to generation. We hate one another. We are the victims of irrational fears. (He straightens his spine. Winces slightly, with the pain of it.) You may think this is a small trial. In a small place. Well, it isn't. Every once in awhile. Somewhere in the world. Humanity goes on trial. And integrity. And decency. Every once in awhile, common folks get called on to give the report card for the human race. (The eyes are watering. But the voice gains strength.) In the name of humanity. Do your duty as jurors. Return this man to his wife and children. Set him free. As you must.
Kudos and much thanks go to Duncan for this monologue, it is very much appreciated. Do know that this monologue was taken from the original screenplay. There may be differences between this and the final product.
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