Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Back to the Future (1985)

Note:  I will be giving away important details.  If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t blame you for wanting to watch it before reading this.

It seems odd that Back to the Future would be considered a great film, yet it is.  Someone pointed out that the main character, Marty McFly, ends the movie the same way he began it.  He also has a lot of less-than-stellar people surrounding him.   The father, George McFly, is a loser and Biff’s yes man.  His mother, Lorraine McFly, is an alcoholic.  Both of his siblings, Dave and Linda, seem destined for low-end jobs.  That’s not even getting into Uncle "Jailbird Joey”.

He has two things going for him:  Girlfriend Jennifer Parker and best friend Dr. Emmett Brown.  It’s not clear why Doc and Marty are friends or how they met.  However, Doc seems to be a failed scientist.  Every invention he ever made didn’t work.  In fact, a strong case has been made that he’s suicidal.  (If you watch the video, be warned that it’s not safe for work.)  This is why it’s surprising that Doc is willing to test a brand-new time machine.

Not only does he test it, but it works.  He shows off the controls to Marty, demonstrating with several important dates.  The last one he puts in is November 5, 1955.  This is the date that Doc Brown invented time travel, or rather, the flux capacitor.   It provides the necessary 1.21 gigawatts of power necessary to propel the DeLorean through time.  Alas, before Doc can do any traveling of his own, the Libyans catch up with him.  (Don’t judge.  He had to get his plutonium from somewhere.)

Marty is able to escape to 1955, but soon discovers that it’s a one-way trip.  In the rush to avoid a machine gun, Marty neglected to take the spare plutonium with him.  He’s able to find Doc in 1955 and get back home.  The catch is that he has to wait a week, during which he interferes with his parents’ first meeting.  He does get them back together with some interesting consequences.

When I first saw the suicidal Doc theory, I have to admit that I found it interesting.  There were a few things that I missed, like what exactly was Doc doing hanging a clock in the bathroom?  Also, why hadn’t Doc done any sort of small-scale test on the DeLorean?  Really?

I tend to look at it another way, though.  If the suicide theory is true, Doc does eventually get his wish.  It’s a shame that he finally has a working invention right before his demise, but he does die.  When Marty goes back to 1955, Doc finds out that he has a working invention, giving him thirty years to think about it.  He heeds Marty’s warning and chooses to use a bullet-proof vest.

The argument could be made that Marty is a good influence on those around him.  Not only does he make life better for his family, but he gives Doc something to live for.   (Sure, Doc always had something to live for.  It just took Marty to show him.)

I remember reading once that Back to the Future was odd in that Mary didn’t really learn anything.  He did seem to inspire things in others.  In fact, there was some question as to whether the parents knew who Marty was in the altered time line.  We know that Doc did, as he was in on it.  Marty introduced himself and explained everything.

I would say that Lorraine probably didn’t.  Marty didn’t have much interaction with her.  In fact, of all the people Marty interacted with in both 1985 and 1955, the only person Marty dealt with less was Mr. Strickland.  On the other hand, Marty had to deal with his father to help train him to be more assertive.

To that end, we see three people on the cover of George’s book.  There are the two teenagers, presumably representing a George-like and a Lorraine-like character.  Between them is none other than Darth Vader of Vulcan.  To say that Marty made an impression on him is an understatement.

1 comment :

Alex Diaz-Granados said...

"Darth Vader of Vulcan."

That line ALWAYS makes me laugh.