Back to the Future: Celebrating 30 Years
Movie trilogies are bursting at the seams with some of the greatest films to have ever been produced in Hollywood. Whilst many trilogies are considered legendary and some are undoubtedly in the same ballpark as Back to the Future, none have ever stacked up to the time travelling masterpiece.
MANKIND has already witnessed history being made throughout 2015. Water has been found on Mars, arousing suspicions that life could yet be found on the red planet. For all you Hawthorn fans out there, the Hawks have won their first AFL three-peat in club history.
However, October 21st surpassed those two events as the biggest day of the year — the date that Back to the Future’s Doc Brown and Marty McFly arrive in the future.
Whilst there are no flying cars — and lawyers are yet to be abolished — the 30th anniversary of the first Back to the Future film launches discussion regarding the time travelling trilogy’s place in cinematic history.
Undoubtedly, Back to the Future is one of the greatest movie trilogies ever created. As co-writer Bob Gale said in a 2013 interview: “With Back to the Future, we definitely caught lightning in a bottle — a perfect marriage of an excellent script, a perfect cast, great directing, fabulous music and top-drawer filmaking.”
The Back to the Future trilogy has one of the greatest plots you will ever likely see. A 17-year-old kid who accidentally travels back in time to mess with his parents’ first meeting, before saving his town from becoming a gang-overrun hellhole, before finally travelling back to 1880s America to save his wild scientist friend from being shot by an outlaw — who doesn’t love the idea of all that? When taking a deeper look into the plot and the movie itself, one cannot help but be drawn into and immersed by it. Over the 130-year timeline of Hill Valley (the town where everything in the movie takes place), a simple adage can be applied — the more things change, the more things stay the same. Before Marty and Doc fiddled with history, each era they travelled to had a member of the Tannen clan bullying a McFly. The clock tower and surrounding area is always an important part of the town’s fabric— from its 1885 beginnings and the Palace Saloon, to the 1955 lightning storm and Lou’s Cafè, to the preservation of the clock in 1985 to the Cafè 80s in 2015. Furthermore, the Tannens always have a penchant for botching metaphors no matter which era they appear in.
“With Back to the Future, we definitely caught lightning in a bottle — a perfect marriage of an excellent script, a perfect cast, great directing, fabulous music and top-drawer filmaking.” — Bob Gale
Aside from leaving an indelible mark in movie history, Back to the Future’s performance at the box office is incredible for a trilogy from its era. The above graph includes some of cinema’s most well known trilogies (the Star Wars, Batman, Mad Max, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings and Jurassic Park franchises are not included as they all technically have more than three movies in the series). Back to the Future’s total worldwide earnings are incredibly third in the graph at a shade under $940 million. Iron Man and Toy Story and the only trilogies to outrank it — however these films had access to a greater worldwide audience due to being released in more modern times. Furthermore, The Godfather — an extremely highly regarded trilogy — is completely smashed by Back to the Future.
A cool by-product of Back to the Future is that we can compare what the trilogy predicted the year 2015 to be like as opposed to what the year 2015 is actually like. The trilogy has actually nailed a few predictions — with some of the trilogy’s prediction being flops too. In Back to the Future, Marty McFly is fired via a video call — a mode of communication that is extremely common today with the rise of Skype and FaceTime. However, the film predicted that fax machines would be everywhere — and the fax Marty receives confirming his sacking just simply wouldn’t happen today. The equivalent of Google Glass is amazingly predicted in the movie. Marty is also bagged in 2015 for playing a game with his hand because “that’s like a baby’s toy”. However, the rise of technology has seen some games and consoles allow for hands-free gaming, such as Xbox Kinect. The famous self-lacing Nikes were announced recently to be sold in 2016 — one of the most unrealistic predictions from the film to have come true. Hoverboards have actually been created, with Lexus developing a hoverboard, albeit one that must be used with a magnetic surface. The Pepsi Perfect sold at the Cafè 80s is actually being sold too — with the soft drink company announcing it will release 6500 limited edition bottles of the fictional soft drink on October 21. Flat screen TVs are everywhere (with which multiple channels can be watched at once), mobile payments are essential to our way of life and — surprisingly — the Chicago Cubs could win their first World Series title since 1908 as Back to the Future outlandishly predicted. Unsurprisingly though, jackets cannot dry themselves at the press of a button, food isn’t hydrated and fruit baskets do not descend from the ceiling of the kitchen.
Back to the Future leaves with it a legacy that struggles to be rivalled. The trilogy is an American treasure, with the country’s Library of Congress listing the first film in its National Film Registry in order to preserve its honour and contribution to American film heritage. An iconic ’80s film, a true testament to its acclaim is its character’s memorable catchphrases. Whether it be Doc’s cry of “Great Scott!”, Marty’s defensive-yet-aggresive denial “nobody calls me chicken” or Biff Tannen’s crude insult “what are you looking at, butthead?”, movie buffs are instantly drawn to Back to the Future. Even the late former movie star and US President Ronald Reagan referenced Back to the Future in a speech during his tenure.
It is clear that the Back to the Future trilogy holds a special place in movie history. A true measure of any film’s greatness is the ability to watch the film time and time again without ever being bored or ever losing a sense of enjoyment — all three Back to the Future movies fall into this category. Without a doubt, it is one of the greatest trilogies in cinematic history.