One of the best fantasy films of all time is Robert Zemekis’ “Back To The Future.” No matter how many times I see it I’m astounded by the imagination and attention to detail that is invested in its script penned by Zemekis and Bob Gale.
First, there is the set that stands in for the town of Hill Valley, California. To set up the film which took place in the film’s present shooting period of 1985, everything appears modern from Pepsi Free soda to Huey Lewis and the News and Marty McFly’s (Michael J Fox) vest.
Through a set of circumstances, when Marty travels back in time to November 5, 1955, suddenly the hit song is “Mr. Sandman” and his vest is mistaken as a life preserver. But look at Hill Valley!!!! Twin Pines Mall is now Twin Pines Ranch belonging to a farmer. A exercise workout locale is the corner diner where the future mayor is a waiter, and Marty’s domestic subdivision isn’t even built yet. Zemekis and his crew are religiously faithful to observing the “science” of time travel.
His minister so to speak is Doctor Emmett Brown (a should have been Oscar nominated Christopher Lloyd; absolutely brilliant in his bug eyed, crazy hair, fun loving role). Doc’s time machine comes by means of a DeLorean automobile – perfectly sci fi like. Marty recruits the younger version of Doc to get him back to his present day, or Doc’s future.
Complications occur when Marty interferes with how his parents originally met thereby causing his mother (Lea Thompson also superb and maybe should’ve been nominated as well) a teen at the time into falling in love with Marty. Now Marty is at risk of being erased from existence, while his mother has the hots for him.
Complications are compounded endlessly in “Back To The Future” and it’s easy to learn all that is at stake. That’s only the skeleton of the nominated screenplay. The dialogue works beautifully as well. Imagine telling someone living in 1955 that Ronald Reagan is President in 1985 and see how he’ll respond. The conservative culture of 1955 vs the free liberal lifestyle 1985 clash so well in the film’s comedy.
Outstanding performances make up one of the greatest casts of all time. It’s difficult to believe that Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty. Michael J Fox is so perfectly natural in his hysteria and cool swagger. Crispin Glover is hilarious as Marty’s ultra nerd dad, George McFly, and Thomas F Wilson is one the top ten on screen bullies of all times as the towering buffoon Biff Tannen.
Without question, “Back To The Future” is one of the greatest films ever made. It has wonder, comedy, suspense, song (yes…we even learn how Chuck Berry came to play “Johnny B Goode”), and brilliant characterizations. It is wholly original in its imagination. It’s fast moving and it’s great fun.
Credit also goes to Alan Silvestri’s catchy orchestral soundtrack. It is magnificent in accompanying the adventure and misunderstandings that occur. You see the film once and you never forget Silvestri’s music.
“Back To The Future” is a magnificent film that every kid should eventually see.