It has been a while since the last blog (for those that tend to have a gander) so it seems about time that I got back on the old blogsphere. So what better way to start a new blog then with the recent re-release of Robert Zemeckis’s original ‘Back to the Future’ I thought with this particular blog I would chime in with my own thoughts and reflections on this very special film.
Released in 1985 this film has two very special things which draw me to it, firstly I was born on the date of the American release of the film, hopefully not flying out at 88 miles per hour with two lines of fire behind me. And secondly the first film I saw in the cinema (at least the one I can remember so vividly) was the final part in the trilogy. So as you can see this series seems to be part of my filmic DNA if you will.
But if for a moment we ignore my sentimental reasons behind my love affair with this series (which I have watched back to back every year leading up to the eve of my birthday) what is it exactly that makes this one of the most loved films of a particular generation. Well for starters it still feels as fresh and original as when it was first released, the narrative still erring on the better side of high concepts genre films from the 80’s, and the fact that after some 25 years since its original release it has not really dated as much as say other films concerning time travel. It still has fantastic performances from both Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd (as Marty McFly and Doc Brown respectfully) least I forget a possible career best from Lea Thompson as well.
It is a family film which caters so well for all age demographics (similar to how Pixar are in more recent times) it has moments of adult themes but also the spectacle of wonder and amazement for the younger crowd. That it manages to balance these two mixes so well is a testament to abilities of the filmmakers who were able to fully realise their story. The narrative at its most basic is a simple story of family, while at its most complex (particularly in the case of the sequels) is the intertwined nature of time travel, alternative realities and what is deemed ethical. Surprisingly deep stuff for a Hollywood feature film.
While in Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown we have characters the audience can relate to as actual human beings and friends. Even if after some pondering, it does seem a tad weird that these two are friends, but best not to think to hard about that. With Marty we are presented with the quintessential teenager, emotional, an outcast (in some respects) and frightened to take a chance in case he fails. While with Doc Brown we have a stereotypical mad scientist and feels like an eccentric uncle who is humoured by the immediate family. Two unlikely leads in a story about moral lessons and time travel, how on earth did this succeed?
Well it also helps to have a pretty cool time machine, in this case a modified Deloren, which over the years has become more synonymous with the accepted form of time machine and one which instantly becomes the first that springs to mind during heated, geeky discussions. On top of which there is the now iconic ‘Flux Capacitor’ at the back of the car, the blue lightening which illuminates the car during its time travel and the accumulation of the specialist sounds which accompany the machine. It is one of pop cultures most iconic movie vehicles up there with the Batmoblie, KITT from Knightrider, The General Lee from Dukes of Hazard, Mr T’s GMC truck and Phantasm’s Semi-Cuda. Ok maybe not the last one (it is just a personal favourite of mine) but the time machine has still managed to ingrain its self into the public consciousness, which is just another in a long line of achievements for the film.
Then there is the classic and instantly recognisable score by the legendary Alvin Silversteri. When those first few bars of the score are heard it instantly brings a wave of nostalgia crashing over my subconscious, that I can not help but have a giant grin appear on my face. It is one of the rare scores which has been on repeat play on my MP3 player and never manages to get tiring or boring.
It also contains more quotable lines then any cheesy action flick, such as: ‘1.21 giggawatts’ ‘Make like a tree….and get out of here’ ‘Jesus Christ Doc….you’ve disintegrated Einstein’ and many more, too numerous to list here.
Then there is the fact it contains two of the best moments ever…..seriously!
First we have the fact that skateboarding was invented by Marty as a means of escape from Biff and his cronies. This leads to one of the more original Hollywood chase sequences which still have the ability to be fantastic, funny and suspenseful all at the same time. Then the second is the infamous guitar sequence where Marty invents classical rock n’roll with his rendition of Johnny Be Good, as toe tapping a good scene as ever to be found in a movie about time travel. One which has also been found parodied more recently in an episode of Family Guy, almost scene for scene.
All of this and much, much more, not bad for a film which is half a century old and like most things classical only seems to get better with age. Which leaves me to say something along the lines of Doc Brown: When this baby hits 88 miles per hour….your gonna see some serious shit!
Back To The Future, I salute your movie greatness.