Sunday, 1 November 2015

Back to the Past

by Kelvin Shiu

October 21st 2015. The day Marty Mcfly travelled into the future in Back to the Future Part 2. A date which is now in the past.  Back to the future is a film, unlike any other. The trilogy is one which someone can so easily watch with utter and pure delight. A sci-fi comedy, adventure film which stands the test of time itself. What makes these films so unique?

The major theme of the trilogy is time travel. This is the most complex theme in the movies. Apart from this it is a franchise which focuses around one main theme. That theme being friends and family. In the first Back to the Future, the film introduces Martys family, subtly introducing multiple facts about the world around Marty to the audience in the beginning. Facts which are later reintroduced when Marty goes back to 1955 from 1985,
highlighting the idea that small actions can have major effects on the timeline in the space time continuum.

Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, who wrote the movie, wanted to really highlight the idea of this awareness of the fact that your parents were once young and free as well, going through the notions of teenage rebellion and all the experiences that Marty as a teen will be exposed to. As with every child there comes a moment in which you piece together the idea that if you are a child and are going to become an adult, then your parents mustve been you age at one time in the past. This moment of realisation is really captured in the scene where Marty first bumps into his father at the diner, witnessing an encounter his father has with Biff, a bully who has continued to bully his father through for many years to come.
You can see the shock in his face when he realises how long his father has endured the oppression of Biffs bullying.

The contrast between Marty and his father both in the present time of 1985 and the past 1955 really stresses the differences between father and son. Marty is someone who wont let people walk over him, shown by the way he faces up to Biff in the classic skateboard chase scene. George Mcfly is presented as a character who seems to always be pushed around and never have the courage to face his demons and take leaps of faith, such as how he hides his passion for writing sci-fi novels. This dynamic is one which plays out very interestingly, through multiple interactions between Marty and his young father.

One key component of the original Back to the Future is the way in which Marty accidentally throws himself into the situation which made his mother fall in love with his father. This creates a terribly awkward change of events, leading to his mother falling in love with him - a wacky (and Freudian) detour of the timeline which in turn generates much of the humour and endearing originality to the film. However, it was also the aspect of the script which actually made Disney turn down the offer to make the film, given that they didnt want to promote themes of incest.  In my opinion, this interaction is something which really encapsulates the theme of time and how precious time is, given that such small alterations to the timeline can create such different paths for all the individual characters. If youve watched the film you know that Marty ends up fixing everything that goes wrong, and in fact switches the timeline to one which his father ends up being much more successful than his original timeline saw, and as a result his family members find themselves in much happier positions as well when he returns back to 1985. Interestingly, next month is the 100th anniversary of Einstein's theory of the relativity of time.

The underlying core of what makes these films so great for me personally, though, is the friendship between Marty and Doc Brown. The flustered, curious mind of Emmett Brown is complemented perfectly by the cool, relaxed characteristics of the young Marty Mcfly. And their friendship is constantly cycled back to on top of all that the fun- filled plots have to offer in the trilogy. The perfect moment for me being when Marty tries so desperately to remind Doc of his impending doom in the first movie, but ending up not managing to say what he wanted to say, with the Doc ripping up his letter due to his fear of knowing too much about the future. But delighted to find that back in 1985 that the Doc had managed to piece the letter back together and taken the necessary precautions for survival.

Overall, something about these films just makes one smile. The themes carried out through the films are all ones which we can universally relate to. The fantasy of time travel and the amiable themes of friendship and family makes for perfect coupling, that Zemeckis and Gale have made the most of to create a trilogy unlike any other, and films which multiple generations will watch beyond the date of Oct 21st 2015.

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