What It’s Like To See Back to The Future For The First Time.

To preface this piece, I should clarify something. I don’t genuinely know if this was the first time watching this film. It is entirely possible that at some point during my youth I saw this film and just stored it away somewhere  in my brain. Unlike when I watched “Shawshank” for the first time, while watching this film I found myself having vague memories of certain events, such as the Johnny B. Goode sequence or the conclusion at the clocktower, but that could be simply because of their prolific presence in pop-culture, and not because I had actually seen the film itself. Nevertheless, I will say that this is my first cognizant time watching this film in its entirety.

Back To The Future is astounding. As I watched this film, I kept thinking to myself, “My word, can you imagine seeing this in the theatres back in 1985?” My mind would have been completely blown. From start to finish, this movie is a complete thrill ride. I was hooked from the very beginning, with the sequence in the parking lot in which our heroes are pursued by Libyan terrorists (what a bizarre and inspired opener) all the way to the end whenever we see the two of them blast off into the future. I love how the film presents an insane conflict when Doc Brown dies in the first twenty minutes, and then doesn’t resolve it until over an hour later. Something that I noticed right away with this movie is the breakneck pacing. Unlike other classic adventure movies, like Jurassic Park, E.T. or even Star Wars, this movie does not slow down. Ever. The story flows from scene to scene effortlessly, keeping you consistently gripped with each new development. Alright, so Marty McFly is now in 1955; great. Okay, now he has to make his parents fall back in love so that way he can ensure his existence in the future should he ever even get back; even better! Now we’re in the climax and the Delorean won’t start; now you’ve got me completely enraptured.

As someone who is a colossal time-travel fan, I was honestly kind of surprised that I hadn’t seen the film that really helped to catapult the concept into the public eye. The time travel in this film is terrific, it really is. Everything makes sense (as much sense as time travel can, once you suspend your initial disbelief) and is executed with panache. As I watched this film, I chose to view it as if I wasn’t already familiar with the conventional time-travel trope of “don’t meddle with events in the past as it will screw up the future.” Because I imagine that for a whole generation of movie-goers in the eighties, who were just now discovering that Science Fiction is cool, this movie was probably what introduced them to all of these now commonplace ideas. This movie explains “the rules” so-to-speak as if they were as ordinary as driving laws. They throw out terms like “flux capacitors” or “space-time continuum” to help the audience believe the science that they’re selling, without ever treating the audience like they’re stupid. And sure while flux capacitors aren’t real things, or even remotely scientific, and no DeLoreans don’t make the absurd sports car sounds they do in the film but this movie doesn’t expect you to care. They just expect you to follow them on this incredibly zany adventure.

And that is what I love most about this film, its decision to just go for it, and not worry about making sense or being authentic, because honestly, does it matter? I loved the little ridiculous things that they put in the film just for the sake of it, such as the bully who is constantly wearing 3D-glasses, or the DeLorean’s license plate reading “OUTATIME.” They’re creative touches that were included just to be fun, which is incredibly refreshing. Movies these days don’t take the time to be fun anymore, for fear of being called out on the internet. Back To The Future simply serves to be entertaining, and nothing else. You don’t need to explain Marty and Doc’s relationship or decifer just why Marty’s mom is in love with him so much. You don’t need to explain any of the little things because they take away from the joy that is found in its craziness. For instance, the scene where Marty McFly plays Johnny B. Goode doesn’t serve the plot in the slightest, but they included it anyway simply because it’s fun!  I understand that I’m using the word fun a bit too frequently here because that’s precisely what the film is. Sure the dialog is a little-nay-a lot ridiculous. But that’s great!  All of the characters, Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and Crispin Glover as George McFly are in every sense of the word, larger than life. They overdo their reactions, enthusiastically recite their lines and play up the absurdity simply to serve the film as a whole. This movie, in every single scene, from Marty waking up in his mother’s bedroom, to Doc flailing about from the clocktower in a thunderstorm, is simply intended to be entertainment. And in that, it achieves.

I don’t really have any complaints with Back To The Future. I’m sure if you really went completely in depth there might be plotholes, but as I said before, those don’t serve the story they’re telling. I suppose the only thing I wish they would have done differently is perhaps make the movie just a bit longer. Just ten extra minutes to really flesh out some of the more engaging sequences. But that’s really it. I am incredibly glad that I sat down to watch this film, as I had an absolute blast. And while this was my first viewing of this movie in its entirety, I can assure you it will not be the last. I will be watching this film for many, many years to come.

 

-Ethan Brundeen

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