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“Back to the Future” (1985)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
I consider “Back to the Future” one of the best films of all time. I know, I know – classics like “Citizen Kane” (1941) and “Vertigo” (1958) are supposed to be the best. Those films are excellent. I love the former (and I don’t particularly like the latter, but that’s for another post), but I can’t honestly say that I have the same kind of enjoyment when I watch them. They aren’t fun. There are movies that are amazing through their form and style. There are also movies that may not have the best stories but they get you thinking and you can’t stop. Finally, there are movies that are flat-out entertaining, that help you escape, that are pure fun. Though they aren’t what most critics would consider perfect down to every detail, films like “Back to the Future” are perfect in their ability to let you have fun, and nothing more.
Why is this film worth watching? Why is it fun?
First off, the storyline is intricately tailored to suit the story. What I mean by that is we learn everything we need to know in the first act and the rest of the story revolves around these open threads. There is nothing that intrudes on the story that has no place within it, and nothing from the story protrudes and goes unfulfilled. At the dinner table, Lorraine recounts everything that Marty will need to know in order to save his parents’ relationship in the past. Doc tells Marty the story of how he came to invent the time machine (which helps him later when he needs to prove to Doc that he’s from the future), which inspires the Doc from the past to “actually invent something that works!” Finally, Marty is given a flyer that tells him the only time and place where a bolt of lightning will strike – without that bit of information, Marty might never have gotten back to the future!
It is these character moments within this intricate storyline that keep it from being silly and actually make it quite heartfelt. The film uses these characters to reveal its simple yet potent moral: “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” Like Jennifer Parker, I also believe those words are very good advice. The characters preach it, but only when Doc follows that advice and invents the Delorean Time Machine does he cause a chain of events wherein the film’s many characters set out to achieve their various goals, which are brought full circle into an almost-paradox wherein Doc actually convinces himself to build his own time machine. The movie tells us that anything is possible if we set out to do it and we work really hard at getting what we want and accomplishing what we want to accomplish. Seems simple, but it’s something that people struggle with everyday, myself included.
The original music score, composed by Alan Silvestri, is also very exciting. Through music, the film’s moments are captured beautifully by the music, specifically when we first see the Delorean, when the Libyans arrive, and when Marty races towards the town square to the split second moment where the bolt of lightning will strike the time machine and hopefully get him where he needs to go. Thankfully for him, he and Doc put their minds to it and accomplished it.
I give this film a watch at least three times a year, and while the sequels aren’t as perfect as this one, watching the entire trilogy back-to-back makes for a highly entertaining and extremely exciting evening. “Back to the Future” is my favourite film of all time, and for good reason, too. I recommend you sit down and watch it if you haven’t seen it already. If you’ve seen it before, why not watch it again? It’s a classic. You don’t need “Citizen Kane” to have a good time!