Classic Film Review: Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future, 1985

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover

 

The first instalment in the widely-loved trilogy, Back to the Future introduces us to Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), an accidental time-traveller using his friend’s, Dr. Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown (Christopher Lloyd, Going in Style), modified DeLorean. He travels from 1985 to 1955 and instantly stops his parents from meeting, instead he puts himself in that position and his mother, Lorraine (Lea Thompson), becomes infatuated with him. After meeting up with the younger Doc Brown they find out the only way to send him back is to harness the energy from the weekend’s lightning storm, giving Marty a week to fix his parents’ meeting.

The highest grossing film of 1985, Back to the Future even notched itself an Oscar (Best Sound Effects), and it is easy to see/hear why. The music, from the songs to the sounds, is brilliant. Opening up to Huey Lewis and the News’ ‘The Power of Love’, and hearing ‘Mr. Sandman’ upon entering the 1950’s, the film incorporates iconic sounds throughout, and these really compliment the film.

The pacing of the film is really well done, too. Having an early chase scene (which results in Marty hitting the 88mph needed to travel in time) followed by the slowness of Marty realising where he is very well executed. His slow walk throughout Hill Valley in 1955 is brilliantly done: it gives him plenty of time and searches throughout all the things that seem unusual to him. There are many moments which seem like everything is far too convenient (such as Doc Brown inputting the time of 1955, the week he invented the concept of time travel and a week before a lightning storm strikes the tower, lightning which is the only method of sending Marty back home), but they come pretty naturally throughout the film, and nothing feels like it’s forced.

The writing and editing of this film often has subtle yet brilliant scenes, such as Marty leaving Twin Pines Mall (where in 1955 a farmer was growing two pine trees) and returning to Lone Pine Mall (after Marty destroyed one of the pine trees in 1955), and more in-your-face scenes such as Lorraine in 1985 acting like she never behaved inappropriately as a youth but Marty soon finds Lorraine in 1955 to be very flirtatious and forthcoming. These early subtle hints make for a well-rounded story by its conclusion, as nothing feels like it’s been inputted for the sake of it.

Loved by many, Back to the Future is regarded as one of the best time-travelling films, and it’s easy to see why. Brilliantly written with enough stories going on outside of the main plot and comedic moments aplenty, it may have its criticisms with regards to plot convenience but they barely take away from what is a truly brilliant film.

 

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