Split Infinity (1992)


USA. 1992.


Director – Stan Ferguson, Screenplay – Leo Paur, Story – Forrest S. Baker III, Story Concept – Sharon Baker, Producers – Don A. Judd & Scott Swofford, Photography – T.C. Christensen, Music – Kurt Bestor, Art Direction – Russell O. Richins. Production Company – Feature Films for Families


Melora Slover (Amelia Jean ‘AJ’ Knowlton), Trevor Black (Frank Knowlton), Barta Heiner (Ruth Knowlton), H.E.D. Bradford (Grandpa Knowlton), Dave Jensen (George Knowlton), Marcia Dangerfield (Mary Ellen Knowlton), Sean Neves (James O’Toole)


Twelve-year-old Amelia Jean Knowlton has a single-minded desire to be a business tycoon. She runs a candy concession business at school and writes essays in praise of people who profited from The Depression. After a fall in the barn, she wakes up to find that she is back in 1929 during The Depression. She meets her youthful grandfather Frank. When she realises he is going to sell out the family farm when he inherits it in seven days, she makes every effort to help save it and comes up with the idea of building a Future World amusement park with the intention of earning enough money to stop foreclosure. Meanwhile, her 1990s attitudes cause considerable upset at school.

One frankly sat down in dread of Split Infinity. It is made by a group called Feature Films for Families whose express aim is to promote Family Values. They even include an 0800 number in the end credits so that people can ring and pledge donations and support. Such ideologically driven production companies usually end up churning out horridly propagandist efforts. Indeed, such views seem born out in the very opening shot that, in a piece of heavy-handed symbolism, pulls back from a print on the wall – ‘The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil’ – to the young heroine perusing her collection of Tycoon magazines.

Subsequently, Split Infinity manages to defy expectation and becomes almost a halfway decent effort. Considering the mawkish values the production company supports, one fully expected it to drown in cheap sentiment, but it nevertheless brings its emotions out honestly and never allows them to topple over into blatant manipulativeness. Expectedly there a fair amount of message-heaviness to the film – little pep talks on beauty only being skin deep and the true value of wealth – “How rich are you Grandpa?” “I have your mother, Dewey and you.” The ultimate message of the film appears to be the need for reliance on divine destiny – “God has a purpose for everything. Sometimes things happen that you won’t be able to understand but if you look closer you will be able to see the Hand of God.” All things considered, the message does not force its way off the screen and down one’s gullet.

As a time travel story, Split Infinity is low key. The adventure into the past is not particularly conceptually challenging and building a makeshift amusement park in a barn is about as dramatically exciting as the film ever gets. However, the film does occasionally succeed in getting some amusing mileage out of the humour of its situation – like where young Melora Slover gets a shocked reaction for turning up to school dressed nineties style, starts turning longjohns into leotards and wearing her underwear on the outside.

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