[IMDBTop100] #73: Back To The Future [Trilogy] (1985 – 1990).


“Time-traveling is just too dangerous. Better that I devote myself to study the other great mystery of the universe… women.” – Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown.

In the first film, Marty McFly (played by Michael J Fox) is a typical 80’s teen. He wants to be a rock star,  he’s trying to be on time for his classes, he’s trying to make time for his girlfriend and he’s trying to spend quality time with his slightly dysfunctional family. His life takes an unexpected turn when he is asked by his friend Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd) to film a science experiment at the site of the Twin Pines Mall. When things go badly, Marty is accidentally sent back to the year 1955 where he starts a chain of events which could ultimately cause him never to have been born.

The second film deals has Doc returning to Marty in 1985 to enlist his help in saving his own future children with current girlfriend Jennifer. Marty must prevent his future son from committing a crime, but in the process accidentally allows the first films villain Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) to travel back to 1955 and completely alter the timeline, causing  an alternate 1985 in which Biff Tannen is a rich and corrupt millionaire who runs the town of Hill Valley and marries his mother.

The events of the second film leave Doc Brown stranded but happily living in the Wild West in the year 1885. He sends instructions on how Marty is able to recover the DeLorean, but after discovering the crazy scientists eventual fate at the hand of the Tannen family, he enlists the help of the 1955 incarnation of Doc Brown and returns to the old west in order to save his friend. He gets back just in time to witness the Doc fall in love with a local school teacher (Mary Steenburgen), but when travelling back to 1855 the DeLoreans fuel line is broken leaving them both temporarily stranded in the past. If that wasn’t problem enough, a past descendant of Biff Tannen, Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen, is already gunning for the Doc.

AlL the best things were born in 1985 (I’m the same age as the first film) It’s Easily one of the greatest films of the 80’s and one of the best trilogies of all time.

With ‘Back To The Future’ Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg managed to create one of the most enjoyable and memorable family comedies of that era. It’s always difficult to write reviews for your favourite movies, because it’s hard to look at them impartially and it’s hard not to gush. The trilogy itself had it’s share of production problems. The part of Marty McFly was written with Michael J.Fox in mind, but due to other commitments he was unable to do it, and so Eric Stoltz was cast instead. After a short time it was decided that Stoltz wasn’t working out, and luckily Michael J.Fox was eventually able to return to the role, but many months of filming had to be reshot causing delays a budgetary problems. It’s also fairly well known (apparently to everyone else but me) that Crispin Glover did not to return for parts two and three and was replaced by another actor, but due to an infringement of likeness rights, Glover attempted to sue the studio and the case was settled out of court. Like I say, things didn’t go smoothly, but despite all this, the entire trilogy is fantastic. I review them all here as a set because I watched them all together, and they just work so well as a trilogy.

It’s hard to really pin-point where these films get their charm. Zemeckis, as usual, is on top form. The casting is perfect (no disrespect to Eric Stoltz, but no one could have played the role of Marty McFly like Fox did). The soundtrack, featuring the spectacular ‘Huey Lewis and the News’, is always upbeat and so quintessentially 80’s. And the musical score by Alan Silvestri is still one of the most iconic Hollywood themes to date. But I suppose it could just be the fantastic script, which unlike the terminator franchise, introduced audiences to the lighter side of a time-travel-gone-wrong scenario. However, I think one of the greatest things about the trilogy is the level of detail which went into creating this fictional universe and it’s characters. It truly is one of those films you can watch again and again but still find new things – case and point, having previously watched the trilogy maybe 10 times, here is a list of things I didn’t notice until this viewing:

  • Crispin Glover only plays George McFly in the first movie. In the sequels he is portrayed by Jeffrey Weissman as Glover chose not to return for the subsequent sequels due to creative differences.
  • Elizabeth Shue only played Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer Parker in the SECOND movie, in the first she was played by Claudia Wells who was actually unable to return for the subsequent sequels due to family health issues.
  • In the first film, after travelling back in time on the site of the ‘Twin Pines Mall’, Marty McFly ends up on Twin Pines Ranch. He is mistaken for an Alien and chased by the gun toting farmer. In his escape Marty accidentally runs down one of the ‘twin pines’ with the DeLorean. When he returns to 1985 he is actually standing on the site of the ‘Lone Pine Mall’. (Seriously, how did I not notice that until now?)
  • In the third film, it is mentioned that ‘Clayton Ravine’ is named out of respect a lady named Clara Clayton (played by Mary Steenburgen), a school teacher who fell into the ravine during the days of the old West. Marty and Doc accidentally save Clara and when Marty eventually returns from the past, the ravine is called ‘Eastwood Ravine’ after McFly’s past alter ego.

Anyway, I’d go so far as to say that “Back to the Future” is one of the greatest film trilogies of all time and I’m the kind of person who (not so) silently judges people on their taste in film. I know it’s a terrible thing to do and I’m not trying to say my taste in film is necessarily better than anyone else’s, but if you don’t enjoy the ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy I really see no hope for you as a human being.

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About Ryan

This site is intended as a dumping ground for my interests and thoughts, but above all it's a here to record my progress on my ever expanding list of life goals. I want to impove myself, to learn new things, to see the world and to experience everything I possibly can. It's a simple goal which has led me half way around the world and given me some amazing memories to keep, stories to tell and friends to cherish. I try to enjoy my life as much as anyone can and I record these memories and thoughts for my own purposes, but the hope is to inspire.
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