The Strawberry Statement (film)
|The Strawberry Statement|
|Directed by||Stuart Hagmann|
|Produced by||Robert Chartoff
|Written by||James S. Kunen (novel)
Kristin Van Buren
|Edited by||Marje Fowler
Roger J. Roth
|June 15, 1970|
The Strawberry Statement is a 1970 cult film about the counterculture and student revolts of the 1960s, loosely based on the non-fiction book by James Simon Kunen about the Columbia University protests of 1968.
- Bruce Davison: Simon
- Kim Darby: Linda
- Bud Cort: Elliott
- Murray MacLeod: George
- Tom Foral: The coach
- Bob Balaban: Elliott
The film details the life of one student, loosely based on the Columbia University protests of 1968 and the non-fiction book of the same name by James Simon Kunen.
The film does not take place in New York City, at Columbia University, but in Stockton, California, at a fictional university – which is based on San Francisco State College (later San Francisco State University). The original book's author, James Simon Kunen, has a cameo appearance in the film. Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air" and numerous other rock songs are used on the soundtrack.
Simon (Bruce Davison), a student at a fictional university in San Francisco (based on San Francisco State College) is indifferent to the student protests around him, until walking in on a naked woman (Kristina Holland) in his dormitory roommate's bed. While she quickly runs over to the toilets to dress, Simon protests to his roommate that their time should only be devoted to studying, so they can get good jobs and lots of money.
Coming back clothed, the woman refuses setting another date with the roommate because she'll be busy protesting. She explains the university's plan to construct a gymnasium in an African-American neighborhood, thus causing conflict with the local African American population. She tells him that she and others plan to take over one of the university's buildings.
Simon later experiences love at first sight with a stranger female student (Kim Darby) and uses his photographer position in the college's journal to photograph her. Following her into the university building the students are taking over, he joins the takeover just by being there. She approaches him while he boringly fools around in the toilets. She says her name is Linda and asks him to rob a food store with her so the striking students can eat.
In a later student protest, Simon is arrested. He then tells Linda he is not a radical like her. He does not want to "blow the college building" after doing his best to be accepted into the school in the first place. Linda later claims she can't see someone who is not likewise dedicated to the movement. Nevertheless, she announces temporarily leaving college to decide for sure.
In the showers, the rightist jock George beats up Simon, who decides to take advantage of the situation and use his injuries from George to fake police brutality. Gaining fame, his friend tells him "a white version of page 43" of Simon's National Geographic looks for him.
Alone in a filing room, a large breasted redhead with a tight sweater smiles at Simon. Seeing his injured lip, she puts his hands on her large right breast and asks if it feels better now. She then takes off her sweater telling Simon "did you know Lenin loved women with big breasts?" After quick flashes of her large breasts, Simon confirms liking them, but asks her if she saw The Graduate. Replying no, she takes him between some filing cabinets and takes off his belt. To her surprise, Simon does not want people to see whatever it is she plans to do to with him. When asking her if she at least locked the door, she confirms unconvincingly and immediately opens up some filing cabinets to hide them. Simon is worried, but she promises him no one will know. She then says she will give him something a "hero" like him deserves, ducks down and gives him an off-screen blowjob, zooming up on Che Guevara's famous poster staring in the air in its implacable expression.
After Linda returns, she announces deciding to be with Simon. They spend the rest of that day together – and implicitly the night. The following day, they make out in a park when a group of African-Americans approaches them. The anti-racism Caucasian rebels fear for their lives. One African-American drops Simon's camera to the ground and stomps on it, but the group then simply leaves. A furious Simon meets the strikers, saying those they help are no different than the cops and the establishment and questioning why they should help those who disrespect and even threaten him.
Simon re-thinks his comparison, though, after visiting none other than George the – now leftist – jock in the hospital. George's leg is in a cast after rightist jocks beat him up while cops watched. Simon goes to personally warn the dean's secretary to call off the construction of the gymnasium or risk a war. A group of African American students then show up, proving Simon's previous generalization wrong.
Eventually, a SWAT team crushes the university building takeover in seconds with tear gas. With the strikers all lying choking, the SWAT members pull out African Americans from the crowd and beat them up with police clubs. When the others protest, they get the same treatment.
With Linda being carried away kicking and screaming, Simon takes on a group of cops all by himself and segments of his happier times in college flash before the viewers' eyes.
The movie is referred to in the song "Ichigo Hakusho o mō Ichido" (Strawberry Statement One More Time) by Japanese musician Yumi Matsutōya, a hit for the group Banban in the mid-70s. The song is a nostalgic look back at a love relationship during the Japanese student movement.
In 1971, Bruce Davison was nominated for his performance for the Laurel Awards "Male Star of Tomorrow".
The Strawberry Statement is part of a group of films that dealt with student unrest and college protests in America in the late sixties and early seventies. See Medium Cool (1969), R. P. M. (1970), and Getting Straight (1970).
- Movies: Herbert Solow Strives to Leave His Mark at MGM Herbert Solow and MGM Warga, Wayne. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 31 Aug 1969: j20.
- "Festival de Cannes: The Strawberry Statement". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
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