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Flying cars, a flux capacitor, time travel, a killer soundtrack, a barking-mad scientist, self-tying Nike trainers and a bizarre oedipal relationship? Throw in Libyan terrorists, a ridiculously over-the-top bully and first-class comic timing and you have all the ingredients for a classic 80s film franchise (OK, Part III was released in 1990, but you know what we mean).
In the first film, Marty inadvertently travels back in time to 1955 and has to ensure his hapless, nerdy parents-to-be meet and fall in love, just like they are supposed to. Hilarity ensues in the guise of bully Biff Tannen and his cronies and the paradoxes and dilemmas of a kid meeting his own parents before they had even started dating are addressed with skill and humour.
Back to the Future Part II picked up from the end of the first film. He now has to go into the future to pose as his own son to stop ‘himself’ going to jail. Bully Biff steals the time machine, buys a sports almanac containing every sporting result for the next fifty years and starts a betting spree that makes him one of America’s richest (and nastiest, and most devious) men. Doc, Marty and Jennifer then have to go back to 1955 to get the book, come back and save the future. Clear?
Back to the Future Part III sees the bumbling duo in the Wild West. Doc has run afoul of a gang of bandits while falling hopelessly in love with local schoolteacher Clara Clayton (Steenburgen). There’s no fuel to get them back, Tannen challenges Marty to a gunfight, the DeLorean is a wreck…will they make it back to 1985? Yes, they do. Of course they do. It’s Zemeckis and Spielberg!
It’s sci-fi, comedy, adventure and an against-all-odds love story. The films are intricately layered and in Marty McFly, one of the classic 80s film characters, we are presented with someone who starts with one view of life and reality and is allowed to find another. Littered with time-zoned pop culture references, Zemeckis allows us to ponder the most fundamental ethical question – if you could go back (or forward) to alter the course of history, would you? Have a think…
Some of our favourite Back to the Future quotes…
Marty: Wait a minute, Doc. Ah…Are you telling me that you built a time machine…out of a DeLorean?
Doc: The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?
Marty: Hey, Doc, we better back up. We don’t have enough road to get up to 88.
Doc: Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
Doc: This is it! This is the answer. It says here that a bolt of lightning is going to strike the clock tower at precisely 10:04 p.m. next Saturday night! If… If we could somehow harness this lightning… channel it into the flux capacitor… it just might work. Next Saturday night, we’re sending you back to the future!
Marty: Calvin? Wh… Why do you keep calling me Calvin?
Lorraine Baines: Well, that is your name, isn’t it? Calvin Klein? It’s written all over your underwear.
Young Biff: Why don’t you make like a tree and get out of here?
Old Biff: It’s *leave*, you idiot! ‘Make like a tree, and leave.’ You sound like a damn fool when you say it wrong.
Doc: I’m sure in 1985 plutonium is in every corner drug store, but in 1955, it’s a little hard to come by! I’m sorry, but I’m afraid you’re stuck here.
Back to the Future Trivia!
The original time machine was a refrigerator that needed the power of an atomic explosion but director Robert Zemeckis was concerned about kids locking themselves inside fridges.
Ronald Reagan referenced Back to the Future in his 1986 State of the Union address – ‘As they said in the film Back to the Future, ‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads’.
During filming, Michael J. Fox was recording Family Ties during the day and then going straight to the BTTF set to film through the night. The daylight scenes were filmed at the weekends!
Hollywood tough-guy Billy Zane appears as one of Biff Tannen’s incapable goons.
When Marty departs 1985, he leaves the Twin Pines Mall, and then knocks over a pine tree when he arrives in 1955, at the Twin Pines Ranch. When he returns to 1985, the shopping centre is called Lone Pine Mall.
John Lithgow was the director’s first choice to play Doc Brown. Christopher Lloyd was offered the role and while he was deciding between BTTF and a role on Broadway, Jeff Goldblum was lined up.
Skateboard royalty Tony Hawk choreographed the skateboarding sequences in the first film.
The longest time-leap the car makes is 100 years, one month, 20 days, from September 7th 1885 to October 27th 1985.
The Stars of Back to the Future – Where Are They Now?
Michael J. Fox
One of the most high-profile Hollywood stars of his time. After the precocious Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties, the Back to the Future franchise set the baby-faced star on a course to superstardom, which naturally included the lead in Teen Wolf. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 and has since been a full-throated campaigner and fundraiser, raising tens of millions of dollars for research.
On one hand the hot yet innocent love interest but on the other, SHE’S HIS MUM! Ew, gross! She starred in 97 episodes of US sit-com Caroline in the City and continues to work in TV and film.
A perennially-employed stage and screen veteran who has made his name in family-friendly movies and voice-overs.
Thomas F. Wilson
Cinema’s greatest butthead? Wilson found it hard to shake off his ‘bully-boy’ persona but found a lucrative market in the videogame voiceover genre. He’s also an accomplished musician.
Quite the oddball, his on-screen persona wasn’t much different to his real life. He couldn’t agree financial terms with Spielberg for the sequels and subsequently forged career playing eccentric characters in River’s Edge, The Doors, Charlie’s Angels and Hot Tub Time Machine.
The Hill Valley hottie went on to star in Cocktail with Tom Cruise and as a prostitute alongside Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, a role she earned an Oscar nomination for.
Everyone’s favourite yummy mummy, she has appeared as a recurring character in Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm with her real-life husband Ted Danson as well as in high profile comedies Step Brothers and The Proposal.