Friday, 11 February 2011

80s Movies: Back To The Future (1985)

Wonderful characters, endearing performances, super-cool technology, and a highly quotable script. A gripping storyline, nail-biting action sequences, a touch of romance, and some genuinely funny comic moments. Awesome soundtrack, good special effects, Libyan terrorists, and a dog called Einstein.

Okay, I ran out of stuff a bit at the end there, but Back To The Future has just about everything that you could want from a big Hollywood blockbuster. It isn't just one of the best movies of the 80s, it's one of the greatest movies ever made. I won't brook any argument on that fact.


Despite being an such obvious fit for the role, and director Robert Zemeckis' first choice, Michael J Fox almost never played Marty McFly. Filming was underway with Eric Stoltz (Mask) as the protagonist before Zemeckis decided he had been miscast. At the second approach Fox decided he could fit the filming around his TV commitments on Family Ties and finally took up the role which he will be forever associated with.

Meanwhile Christopher Lloyd (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest), who steals every scene he appears in as the archetypal mad professor 'Doc' Emmet Brown, was unbeleivably only the second choice for the part behind John Lithgow (Third Rock From The Sun). Fortunately Lithgow was unavailable and we got the Doc Brown that we deserved.

The Plot

The beauty of the movie is in making a complex and outlandish plot seem like the most natural and straightforward thing in the world. It's like this 17 year old Marty is sent from 'modern day' 1985 back to 1955 in the Doc's plutonium-powered Delorean/time-machine (yes, this sucker's nuclear). While in 1955 he inadvertently diverts the course of history by displacing his father as the object of his own mother's teenage affections (yes, your mother has the hots for you).

So Marty's job is to play matchmaker to his own parents, to ensure his continued existence, while also trying to return to 1985 in the Delorean, by harnessing the 1.21 jigowatts(!) of energy needed from a convenient lightning strike. See, what could be simpler?


Huey Lewis and the News provided two songs for the Back To The Future soundtrack, both classic 1980s uptempo rock ballads. The Power of Love is the lead song which recurs throughout the 1985 scenes, (including Marty's talent show audition, where Huey cameos, telling the band they are "too darn loud") and Back In Time which plays over the end credits.

Back in 1955 there's a selection of 50s pop hits, notably Mr Sandman by the Four Aces, a version of Earth Angel played on screen by 'Marvin Berry' and band, and Johnny B. Goode played by Marty.

Top billing though should go to Alan Silvestri's brilliant score, available on CD as part of this Trilogy set. The iconic title track, Back to the Future, sums it up nicely though, and is a must in any collection.

80s Movies

In February, POPSICULTURE are dedicating the month to a look back at the iconic films of the 1980s - a decade whose films continue to draw massive audiences when they are shown on TV. To follow posts in this series, check the 80s Movies label or sign up to the dedicated RSS feed.

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