Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Back To The Future Birthday Bonanzagasm

I recently celebrated the anniversary of the day I emerged into this world, screaming and yelling because I’d just missed the release of The Man With The Golden Gun and would have to wait another three years for The Spy Who Loved Me, by having a Back To The Futurethon at my favourite cinema, the Joeyplex.

By crikey I love Back To The Future. It’s a perfect film in every way. Each time I watch it I find something I hadn’t noticed before. Today I realised how sad it was that George McFly’s lifelong bullying at the hands of Biff Tannen had completely stifled his creative urges. At 17 years old he wrote science fiction stories that he was too shy to show anyone because he couldn’t stand to be rejected, and by 47 he was wedged in some crappy job doing Biff’s work for him. Marty’s fannying about with the space-time continuum may have given George all the material rewards a 1980s family could hope for, but it’s the fact that he’s a published author, living his dream, that brings a lump to my throat. I’m just not sure why it took 30 years for his first book to be released.

Part II is slightly less lovable because Biff, in his various incarnations, crosses the line from great movie villain to completely unsympathetic idiot hole, and also because everyone shouts all the way through it. However I’ve never seen a sequel before or since that goes back into the original and turns it inside out like Seth Brundle’s telepod does to his baboon in The Fly.

Since I first saw Part II I’ve been perplexed by the backwards ‘99’ that appears at the end when the DeLorean is struck by lightning, but it was so enigmatic I just thought it was too brilliant to question. Received wisdom on the interwebs suggests it’s the flame trails, created by the time machine disappearing, spinning off into the distance. I suppose that could be true but I think it’s better left unexplained, like Marty’s failure to notice that his girlfriend and Dad have been replaced by lesser actors. Although I did have a big thing* for Elisabeth Shue at the time, due to a combination of unruly teenage hormones and Adventures In Babysitting.

Part III rediscover’s the trilogy’s heart and perfectly balances the race to get back to the future with a beautiful love story for Doc Brown. And the new time machine appearing at the end is such a “Yess!!” moment – which makes it even more brilliant that it’s topped when it takes to the skies and continues the adventure in a whole other story we’ll never see.

So here’s to the Back To The Future trilogy - a magnificent way to spend a birthday - and to its unsung hero Alan Silvestri, who composed a perfect theme for it that he never bettered. Great Scott!

*You should be ashamed of yourself for thinking what you’re thinking.

To comment on this post, click here


  1. The only film I recall seeing on a birthday was 2001 in Brighton in 1968. 2001 was the first science fiction story I had seen set in space that recognised zero gravity and the fact that sound does not travel in a vacuum. In that respect more than 40 years on 2001 has no equal.

    Regardless of the date in the story, every science fiction film betrays its era of creation. In 2001 the clunky buttons, CRT or 16mm display screens, and a speech enabled mainframe computer HAL that took up half a spaceship look quaint now and point a finger at the 60s or 70s.

  2. But despite all that, 2001 is as brilliant and perfect as BTTF, although in different ways. everyone should watch a perfect film on their birthday. When I'm Prime Minister it'll be the first law I make.