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Split Infinity (1992) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Although 14-year-old "fashion plate" and entrepreneur A.J. Knowlton loves her down-to-earth, middle-class family, her behavior toward them often reflects irritation and embarrassment. She blames her grandfather for losing the family farm during the depression and keeping the family from becoming affluent. One night when A.J. goes to the barn to be alone, she falls from the hayloft, then awakens suddenly to find herself transported back to the year 1929. Her grandfather is a young man and she is his little sister, Amelia Jene. Before A.J. returns to 1992, she will gain a new set of values as she discovers the loving secret her grandfather has kept for so many years, until the day she would be ready to understand.

  • A teenage girl learns the importance of family unity after falling from a hayloft and going back in time to the Great Depression.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Amelia Jean Knowlton, aka A.J., is a fourteen year old entrepreneur who is obsessed with becoming rich. She earns money by selling candy and providing tutoring services at school. Her parents order her to do her own chores instead of sub-contacting them out to her younger brother Joey.

    When her mother, Mary Ellen discovers that A.J. left her report at home, she brings it to her at school. A.J. is embarrassed by the sloppy way her mother is dressed and later buys her a proper outfit to wear. Mary Ellen returns it and explains that all she wanted was for A.J. to apologize for the rude way she acted.

    At a softball game, A.J. is distracted by a tutoring problem and strikes out. Her exasperated coach orders her to sit on the bench for the rest of the game. On the way home, A.J.'s father George talks to her about values and how wrong it is to judge someone based on their appearance. None of it registers with A.J.

    Mary Ellen's father, Grandpa Frank, comes to visit. A.J. thinks he should wear nicer clothes and surmises that perhaps he can't afford to buy any. Mary Ellen laughs and assures A.J. that her grandfather can buy whatever he wants.

    Grandpa Frank gives A.J. a locket that belonged to his younger sister, Amelia Jean. She died of polio at age nineteen, shortly before she was to be married to James O'Toole. A.J. was named for her. He also gives her Amelia Jean's diary.

    That night, feeling restless, A.J. goes out to the barn and climbs into the hayloft. She doesn't realize that her youngest brother Dewey has followed her. She sharply orders him to leave her alone. In tears, he walks away and A.J. goes after him. But the floorboards are rotten and she plunges to the floor of the barn. From the house, Grandpa Frank hears her scream and asks God to please bring her back.

    When A.J. wakes up, she is in a classroom. The other students are dressed in old-fashioned clothes and the teacher threatens to paddle her. A.J. shoves her away and the teacher falls on her paddle, ending up with a black eye. A.J. is sent to the principal's office where she is collected by a young Grandpa Frank. After seeing a calendar, she realizes it is 1929 and she is Amelia Jean, Frank's younger sister. Somehow her accident in the barn sent her back in time. He thinks she is crazy when she tries to explain all this.

    When they get home, A.J. asks where the reservoir is. Frank has no idea what she is talking about. The land she points out is part of the family farm, which Frank will inherit on his upcoming twenty-first birthday. He plans to sell everything and invest the money so they can all live comfortably. A.J. realizes that the stock market crash is only a few weeks away and Frank will lose everything. She believes she was sent back in time to stop this from happening.

    A.J. has trouble adjusting to Ruth, the mother of Amelia Jean and Frank. Ruth is a no-nonsense mother who will not tolerate disrespect from her children. Frank instructs her to say "yes ma'm" when speaking to Ruth.

    A.J. finds Amelia Jean's diary and the locket. She writes in the diary, introducing herself and explaining what has happened to her.

    The next morning, A.J. is horrified to see that Amelia Jean wears only dresses. She improvises an outfit of long johns and a tunic. In 1929 this is improper attire for a girl and once again A.J. finds herself in the principal's office. Her mother assures the principal that in future her daughter will dress properly for school.

    The other students don't know what to make of A.J. They wonder if she is going insane. A.J. participates in a softball game and goes swimming in her clothes. She is joined by James O'Toole, Amelia Jean's future fiance. As they are splashing about in the water, a car drives up. Frank and two well-dressed men get out. They are his colleagues at the brokerage firm where he works. A.J. learns that they are the buyers of the family farm. They order the teenagers away from the pond.

    Another unpleasant fact comes to light when A.J. discovers she must milk the cows as part of Amelia Jean's chores. Frank is mystified that she has forgotten how and has to show her all over again. He still scoffs at A.J.'s insistence that she is from the future. But soon he begins asking questions. The local newspaper has a story about the proposed reservoir. Frank demands to know how A.J. knew about it in advance, since it has just been announced. He realizes she can somehow predict the future but is not yet ready to believe her story.

    Time is running out. Frank's birthday is in a few days, after which he will close the sale. Ruth does not want to move away but concedes that her late husband thought he was doing what was best when he left the farm to Frank. A.J. urgently tells Frank about the stock market crash and how Winston Churchill will address the Wall Street stockbrokers a few days prior. Frank finds this amusing. A.J. also advises him that after the second World War, he should invest in blue chip stock like IBM.

    A.J. decides to raise money so Ruth can buy back the house and barn. She enlists her school friends to help with "Future World", a carnival that will be held in the barn. They build booths and a scary ride called "Jaws of Death". The rider is conveyed through the barn loft door, across the yard, and into a wooded area.

    Frank orders A.J. to forget about having a carnival. But Ruth points out that the property is hers for a few more days and A.J. can do as she pleases. He then send some men to tear everything down. They fail as A.J. and the others force them to try out the rides.

    A.J. continues to keep Amelia Jean informed of what is going on via the diary. Meanwhile, ugly rumors questioning A.J.'s sanity are floating about town. The purchasers of the property warn Frank that there had better not be any trouble. Again he orders A.J. to cease and desist and again Ruth defends her.

    Future World is a huge success. But the next morning, A.J. wakes to the sound of everything being torn down. She runs outside in her nightgown to find the sheriff talking to Frank and Ruth. Despite their efforts, A.J. is ordered held at the local mental hospital.

    Frank finally succeeds in getting her released. But it's too late to save the farm. Frank sold it and invested the money. The crash happened exactly as A.J. said it would and the money is gone. A.J. feels terrible but there is nothing she can do. Frank took the money she made from Future World and arranged to keep the house and barn. It is all they have now. A.J. reminds Frank that though it will be hard, he and Ruth will make it. She wants now to go home, not to the farm but to her own time. Her last message in the diary states that she has fanned the flames of a romance with James but the rest is up to Amelia Jean.

    That night, A.J. goes to the barn and gets on the Jaws of Death. She wakes up in a hospital, where she has been unconscious for days after falling in the barn. Her family surrounds her and she decides what happened while she was unconscious was a dream.

    Later, she and Grandpa Frank talk and A.J. realizes it wasn't a dream. Frank reveals that he took her advice about investing in blue chip stock and has made a fortune. He takes her to a hospital for children he had built, named for his sister. In time, he wants A.J. to take over its management.

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