Tuesday 2 April 2013

A to Z - Back to the Future

April 1st marks the start of the A to Z blogging challenge. Continuing with my cinematic theme, today is Back to the Future, easily one of my favourite films ever. I love the whole trilogy, particularly Part III in 1885, but I'm just going to talk about Part I here.

I can't remember when I first saw Back to the Future but given I saw the third one at the cinema, I must have seen it when I was fairly young. There was just something about the idea of a time machine in the form of a DeLorean that captured the imagination, even if the film does come very much within the tradition of films in which the protagonist's interference results in a life that better suits what they want.

Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) starts the film in 1985 as an aspiring guitarist in high school. His father, George, is continually pushed around by his boss, Biff Tannen, and his siblings are equally lacklustre. Marty's friend, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) invents a time machine, and Marty ends up back in 1955 where he encounters his high school aged parents. Doc Brown needs to get him back to 1985, but as they have no access to the plutonium on which the DeLorean runs, they have to wait until the night of the school dance, when Marty knows there will be a lightning storm, to generate the 1.21gigawatts the time machine needs. Will Marty get his parents together before he leaves?!

OK, so how can you not like Back to the Future?! Sure, all time travel films suffer from a central paradox, but unlike later films, in which the hero leaves something in the past/future for the next version of himself to find (see Deja Vu for a particularly nonsensical example), Marty is very much the first to time travel, and learns the hard way that you can't interfere in anything since actions in the past affect the present. OK, so it's a bit creepy that his teenaged mother gets a crush on him, and he has to engineer a meeting between her and his teenaged father - not many films flirt with incest in the 'boy meets girl' stakes, but somehow Back to the Future manages it without being icky.

Thing is, as cool as Michael J Fox makes Marty, and as awesome as Christopher Lloyd is as Doc Brown, it's actually Thomas F Wilson who steals the films for me as the various members of the Tannen family. My favourite incarnation is Buford 'Mad Dog' Tannen from Part III, but considering he plays three versions of Biff in Part I (bully Biff from 1985, then teenaged Biff from 1955, then meek and mild Biff back in new 1985), it just shows what one person can do with one character.

Back to the Future is one of those films I can watch again and again, and I love it just as much every time I watch it. Plus it has one of the best renditions of Johnny B. Goode that I've come across...


Tony Noland said...

Back to the Future is brilliant, a wonderful movie. I remember when it came out in the theaters, they started advertising it as an exciting science fiction adventure movie. It was only after word got around about how funny it was that the ads started shifting to promote it as comedy.

John Wiswell said...

How can you not like Back to the Future? If you're a bad person. It's that simple. Cut and dry.

I, who dislike most time travel stories, loved this. Part is the charisma of Doc and Marty, and part is surely how much humor it handles itself with. Humor is so helpful in handling outlandish fiction for me. And that car! Who didn't want to drive around in that car?

Bevimus said...

I agree, one if the greatest movies of all time and I also loved it when Doc Brown and Marty did it up in the Wild West in part 3. I've seen the first one so many times I can probably quote the whole thing.

Oh! And I love that Biff- regardless of persona or century- always ends up in manure! Poetic justice, that!

Overall it's a point well made- how can anyone not love that movie?

Chuck Allen said...

I love Back to the Future!

Cat Russell said...

Such a great movie! And I agree with your opinion of 'Johnny Be Good.' I like it better than the original. :)

Post a Comment