Strawberry Fields


This is a story about Irene, a Japanese-American girl who seems to have awfully major anger management issues. Her grandparents were at the internment camp at Poston, and so were her parents.

This is, I think, supposed to be a story about a Japanese-American girl finding out about her dual culture and its past.

At least, that's what I think it's about. The story gets lost in a mishmash of flashbacks (some repeated too many times), and a fairly aimless and far too artsy filming technique.

Irene is not a sympathetic character in the film at all. She has sex with her boyfriend, smokes pot, sets off the fire alarm at school, loses her temper all the time, and destroys things belonging to other people, not counting the fact that she likes to play with matches.

There's a subplot about some guy that was going to use dynamite to blow up something. (This was during the time of the anti-Vietnam movement.) There's also a lot of emphasis in the film on Irene seeing the ghost of her dead sister, yet at no time does she act surprised at all that the girl's ghost shows up.

There's no exploration of just why the mother is so upset about Irene's interest in the camp. There's no exploration of much of anything, actually.

I had really hoped that this film would have been a good examination of the internment process and its effects on that generation and ones after; instead, the film is basically a total disappointment. The only thing at all I found interesting about the film was some of the footage from the camps and some of the pictures from the camps; the rest of the film was pretty much a loss.


The narration starts out with a girl saying that, in 1942, her grandfather burned their Japanese possessions in the strawberry fields behind their house. The next morning the family was sent to the internment camps.

The film skips ahead to 1971.

The girl, Irene, is still talking, saying her sister (Terri) found some photos and knew about the fire.

The older sister, the narrator, is taking a bath.

Her sister dies.

The older sister is not presented in the best light. She has sex with her boyfriend and smokes pot. She also has a severe problem about playing with matches.

Her and her mother most definitely do not get along at all, period.

She and her boyfriend visit her sister's grave at night.

She and her boyfriend are making out at the gravesite when the girl sees her sister.

Continuing her tradition of unacceptable behavior, she jumps out of the window in her classroom, sets off the fire alarm, throws some firecrackers, and then takes off with her boyfriend.

She reveals that her father left her mother.

There's an anti-Vietnam demonstration going on; the classroom earlier had been having a discussion of the Vietnam war.

For some reason a movie on the internment camps is being shown. (Why? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.)

The movie continues as she watches it.

Later, she's at some party or something and sees a poster about the camps.

She finds a gun under a sink at the party or whatever. (So far the film has had a lot of flashbacks to the internment camps. It's obvious that the girl has rejected the Japanese portion of her culture. Her parents have never talked about the camps. She also has pretty severe behavioral problems. The film is a little disjointed in this early portion, in my opinion, a little too avant-garde.)

She fires the gun straight up and suddenly her dead sister appears.

She's sitting in her room after she's been expelled from school. She's looking at one of the internment photos and her sister takes part of it or all of it from her.

She's still chasing her sister.

Her sister has found more of the family photos from the internment camp.

There are lots of flash-back scenes of the camps.

Her sister appears to her yet again. (The girl is taking all these appearances of her sister without seeming to wonder about her sister being a ghost or how her sister's ghost manages to move physical objects. At least at this point in the film, anyhow, and it seems a somewhat unrealistic reaction, at least in my opinion.)

The girl and her sister look at some more photos.

The two girls talk after the younger sister set fire to some pictures in their mother's closet. She also got a coke out of a vending machine which is, as far as I know, beyond the capability of ghosts.

Irene and her sort-of boyfriend drive to California.

Irene tells a friend of hers about Terri.

Her friend (Aura) has sex with a guy. He has a box in the van which apparently carries a good bit of dynamite in it.

A short time later Aura and Irene are taking shots at a photo of Nixon, then try some LSD from Aura's boyfriend who has returned from having left a very short time before.

Aura's boyfriend, Mark, is having a bad trip on the acid he took.

Aura says that her folks were also interned at the Poston internment camp.

Terri has taken the dynamite from Mark's van and put it in the back of the truck Irene is in. She and her boyfriend have an argument about it, he thinking she's the one who put it there.

They have yet another argument, this time over Irene's wanting to go to Poston.

Irene and Aura decide to go to Poston together. Aura had an argument with her boyfriend about what use the dynamite was going to be put to.

They stop off at the house of someone Aura knows, a woman who had been at the camp.

The woman explains how the Japanese Americans burned their Japanese things after Pearl Harbor. She also says that Irene's grandfather (the man in the picture Irene has been looking at) liked to burn things like Irene does.

They get to where the camp had once stood. (The woman had gone with them.)

The woman explains the layout of the camp to Irene and some things that happened there. Irene gets mad at the woman.

Irene talks to her mother and they have an argument, and the mother says she can't help her.

She then goes driving the truck in circles in the camp area after she destroys a record belonging to the woman that she had been talking to.

Irene again talks to her dead sister.

Irene has taken the box of dynamite and appears to be trying to set it off.

Irene says she should have died in the closet that she set fire to earlier in her life.

Aura shows up and tries to get Irene away from the box. She can't see Irene trying to pull her sister away from the box. She barely gets Irene away in time. Once the box explodes, it makes a fairly good sized crater.

Irene and Aura get in their cars and drive off, the movie goes to the credits.

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