Earlier this week Twitter was abuzz with the ‘revelation’ that we’d reached the future date that Doc Brown keyed into the Delorean’s flux capacitor in Back To The Future – supposedly 5 July 2010.
Except we hadn’t. It was all a hoax perpetrated by Total Film, for which they’ve since apologised.
And yet, accurate or not, the episode underlines the extraordinary affection people still have for BTTF. As the film celebrates its quarter-century anniversary, we thought we’d examine the film’s enduring appeal.
The perfect plot
Few screenplays exhibit such a rapid-fire slew of perfectly executed set-ups and pay-offs as Back To The Future does. In fact, the Oscar-nominated script by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale is so technically spot-on, it’s often used as part of scriptwriting university courses as an example of how to take a concept as far as it can go, while still containing the perfect balance of comedy, action and romance.
Sly digs at ‘80s consumerism (“What’s a rerun?”) aside, BTTF is brimful of quotable comedy moments, so funny that, even today, the writers of Family Guy can’t stop referencing it.
From the lovably geeky script (“I’m George McFly. I’m your density. I mean…your destiny”) and surreal plot devices (“Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn’t take Lorraine out that he’d melt my brain”), the film is propelled by a childlike verve and enthusiasm. And who could forget – or resist emulating – the silent laughter of George McFly?
Such is the attractiveness and warmth of the film’s world, it encourages you to accept even the most outlandish plot elements. Here are a few things we ‘learn’ from the movie:
* Terrorists capable of building bombs also drive like little girls.
* Lightning generates exactly 1.21 jiggawatts (yes, jiggawatts – Jay-Z would be so proud) of power, which is the spot-on amount needed for time travel.
* A teenage boy and an ageing mad scientist being best friends is totally normal.
* A stove door makes a perfect ad-hoc bullet proof vest.
* When Darth Vader comes down from the planet Vulcan and gives you instructions, you of course do exactly as he says.
The geeks shall inherit the earth
It’s a recurring theme in ‘80s movies, from Weird Science to Cameron Frye’s car-wrecking denouement in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – never underestimate the awesome power of nerd-rage. You could argue it’s the very heart of the film: when George McFly (outstandingly played by professional oddball Crispin Glover) lays out hunk of meat Biff (Thomas F Wilson) with a single punch, the weeds and wimps of the world rejoiced.
Go gadget, go!
We can’t time travel just yet, but Back To The Future did at least inspire these awesome inventions – a Japanese flying car, a hoverboard (true, it only manages an inch off the ground, but it’s a start) and my personal favourite, the truly fashion-forward self-lacing sneaker.
OK, so a cynic might argue that the supposedly ‘universal’ love of BTTF is really limited to a narrow clique of thirty-something kidults who can’t resist wallowing in nostalgia. However, a movie-lover would respond by saying that the film, even compared to today’s incredible CG and SFX, has a charm and vision that transcends space and time. Bring on Back To The Future 3D…