Back to the Future
After an accidental time-travel incident that lands him thirty years in the past, Marty McFly must figure out how to return home. Along the way, he meets the younger versions of his parents and alters the course of time.
There was a time in my life, however brief, in which I decided that I was going to become the next big Hollywood director. I bought the camera, I downloaded the editing software, and I signed up for the film program in my hometown state school—the whole nine yards. With no experience and no clue what I was doing, I spent the next two years diving deep into the world of cinema, learning everything I could possibly need to know about the art of filmmaking.
During this two-year period, I watched Back to the Future five times.
I had seen it before, in bits and pieces across a series of lazy Sunday afternoons. Commercials were always eating away at the plot, and I never really grasped the chronology of the narrative, but I knew about the movie. I had seen Marty and Doc race a clock tower. I had seen Biff bully his way through high school and watched Hill Valley High dance the night away to Johnny B. Goode. There was an awareness, but not an appreciation.
The very first movie that we watched in my very first film course was Back to the Future. It was presented as a prime example of plot progression. We were asked to analyze the flow of the story, the foreshadowing, the pace. This movie was airtight and deliberate with every move, crafting a believable narrative within an unbelievable plot.
Later that year, I watched it again in another course. This time, we were asked to analyze the characters. The chemistry between Doc and Marty. The development of the older generation as a result of outside intervention. Marty, as a reluctant hero, suddenly responsible for the fate of his own future when he had previously viewed time as a quiet, uncontrollable doom. The growth in this movie was spectacular, from Marty to George and everyone in between.
I was later asked to consider this film from a science fiction angle, with a focus on it’s accessible time travel and it’s circumvention of the genre’s typical over-explanation. Then again, as a comedic film, perfectly balancing humor with heart. And if that wasn’t enough, I continued to watch this film as an inexplicable part of a Halloween marathon, with friends who listened patiently as I went on and on about the beauty of the film.
Time and time again, I have heard Back to the Future referred to as “The Perfect Movie” and while I’m of the opinion that there is no such thing, this movie is the closest that anyone has come so far. From a technical standpoint, this story is beautifully done. Any hesitations about the content of the film can be neatly wrapped up in a John Mulaney bit, then forgotten about. It’s a love letter to an (albeit, highly romanticized) era that landed with a modern twist at the time of its release, which has now seamlessly developed into high-octane nostalgia. It’s simple. It’s interesting. It’s exciting. This one checks all of the boxes.
My passion for filmmaking didn't withstand the test of time, but Back to the Future certainly has, which is a rare find in the sci-fi genre. It's so common to come across technology that doesn't hold up, or science that has since been debunked, but Back the the Future was never really focused on the mechanics. It focused on the characters and showcased their growth. This one decision is what allows all audiences—past, present, young, and old—to relate to the content, even 35 years after its initial release.
It’s About Time: Back to the Future
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 10/1010/10
Production - 10/1010/10
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