Thursday, 13 August 2015

Back to the Future: 30 Years On

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It’s been so long since its original release that real time has caught up with the futuristic date set in part 2 (2015, we have no hover boards or flying cars) but ‘back to the Future’ still stands tall as not only a staple of science fiction cinema but perhaps the ultimate summer blockbuster. There are many things that make it great, and here I’m going to give a quick rundown of them.
Perhaps it’s the melancholy attitude that Robert Zemeckis takes when dealing with what could be seriously disturbing and suspenseful material with other writers that turns it into less of the action extravaganza that it could have been and into a more Capra like caper. As Gene Siskel said when describing the film ‘If I had the ability to make pictures I hope I’d have the ability to make a film as enjoyable as ‘Back to the Future’.
One of the things that makes it so enjoyable is the chemistry between Doc Brown and Marty McFly. Though it’s never really explained why a teenager would hang out with a mad scientist old enough to be his grandfather, it works. Maybe that’s why we don’t need an answer to that question and why we just accept their relationship. They each complement the other and maintain a strong individuality, serving as one of the greatest double acts in movie history. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the role, but of course Michael J Fox was initially unavailable to play it, however after some begging Fox was allowed to accept the role, which he did without even reading the script. Is there anyone that would dispute that this was one of the best move’s in film history, as Fox’s performance defines comedic timing, use of physical expression and a fantastic fish out of water attitude. Naturally he seems so out of place against the 1950s environment is where a majority of the humour comes from, not to mention his perfect amazement and nervousness at seeing his parents as youngsters.
The other half of this double act is Christopher Lloyd, who brought Doc Brown to live in so many ways. He also nearly passed the role, but was convinced by the director’s passion. Again this is just a role where no one else could do it as well. There is no point where I doubt his intelligence and madness of this character whether he’s acting straight with giant devices perched precariously on his head or building an exact scale model of the town then apologising for its crudeness. It’s zany, exciting and over the top, utterly contradicting depending on the time zone and utterly brilliant.
The time machine was originally written as a fridge, but Spielberg was worried that kids may copy the film and climb into fridges, so it was changed to a Delorean (because kids’ climbing into cars is much safer). It was undoubtedly an inspired move as it gave them the perfect opportunity to fabricate the machine with a futuristic style, but still one that looks chaotic as if it was assembled at home by an eccentric lunatic. The innards are perfectly realised and given just the right amount of explanation. How does a Flux Capacitor work, we don’t know, it just does.
The super efficiency of ‘Back to the Future’s’ script is one of the films strongest aspects. If you wanted more detailed thoughts on why the script is a marvel of writing then go to the link below in order to reach a new blog I have CineTheory, in which I go deep into certain film topics and subjects. 

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