|“Because this hoverboard incident has occurred, Biff now goes to jail! Therefore, your son won’t go with him tonight and that robbery will never take place. Thus, history, future history, has now been altered!”
With resounding response, Robert Ziemeckis and Steven Spielberg’s Back to the Future1 was voted the most favorited time-travel movie among the fans that voted on my blog’s poll earlier this month. And, as promised, I am indeed writing an article on the movie. However. I realized, once I started, that there was much more than a fun story in this series. So I decided to write this blog in three parts. This is “Part 2” (You can view the first part HERE). Please bear with me as I attempt to explore yet again another cinematic masterpiece.
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When we last left Marty McFly, he had finally returned home to a near-familiar, present day Hill Valley (1985). But no sooner does he reunite with his family, when his good friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, shows up ranting about something terrible that’s going to happen. So, with no other choice but to follow, Marty, his girlfriend Jenny (Elisabeth Shue) and the Doc hop back into the time machine and set off for the future. The year 2015, to be exact. Their mission? Stop Marty’s son from helping Biff Jr. rob a store. In the future, Marty Jr. ends up in jail, along with his sister, who attempts to break him out a couple days later. Just as the car pulls onto the street and takes off into the sky, Biff runs out of the house and onto the driveway in time to see
the DeLorean disappear into the future.
Jenny and Marty arrive in the future (the year 2015) and are shocked by what advancements they see. Flying cars and sky-highways are just a few to mention. The Doc, who has already been to the future, promptly knocks Jenny out. His reasoning is that “No one should know to much about their own future.” It’s too dangerous and could have lasting effects too terrible to imagine (The same argument he made for – initially – not reading Marty’s warning note about the terrorists in the first movie). So, after stashing the unconscious Jenny in a back alley, Marty takes off to confront Biff Jr. and “fix” the future.
Marty stumbles into a café (The Café 80’s), and runs into a familiar face: Biff Sr. Or rather, the Biff who – in the past – now works for his dad. Biff Jr. is Biff Senior’s grandson, just as Marty Jr. is his. Suddenly, Marty Jr. walks into the bar, so Marty jumps behind the counter. Biff Jr. arrives and proceeds to weasel Marty Jr. into tagging along on their plan for the night. Marty Jr. is scared, but manages to hold them off. That is, until Biff Jr. punches him, landing him behind the counter. Marty quickly takes his son’s place and leads Biff on a none-to familiar chase through the town square, which ends in Biff and his goons crashing into the town hall; the clocktower. Marty then notices a book, a sports almanac, in a collector’s store. Its statistics go all the way from 1950 to 2000. He realizes that with the possession of this book, he could make millions on sports games in the past. So, inevitably, he buys it. Doc Brown reappears with the DeLorean, and Marty shows him the find, to which the Doc suggests he get rid of it. He tells Marty that he never invented the time machine for monetary gain. Biff Sr. overhears this and, remembering about seeing the car in 1885, waits for Marty to dump the book and takes it for himself.
In the meantime, Biff Jr. is arrested and sent to jail, thus, protecting Marty’s future kids from meeting the same fate. But as Marty and the Doc go to leave, the police patrolling the alleys discover Jenny. They use a retinal scanner to I.D. her and take her home. Marty and the Doc follow. So does Biff Sr. While Jenny is slowly coming too in her future house, and while the Doc and Marty are casing the place to find a way to get her out, Biff Sr. steals the DeLorean. Going to the past, he gives the almanac to his past self and hops back to the future, returning the car to the same point in time as before. The Doc, Jenny and Marty return to the past and assume everything is normal. Although it’s not too long before they realize that everything’s completely different. George McFly is dead, Marty’s siblings are missing, his mom is married to Biff and the whole town is in ruins – run by motorcycle gangs and looters. Marty and the Doc learn that Biff had acquired the almanac and realize that, in order to return the world to order, they have to go back to 1955 and stop Biff from getting, or at least using, the almanac. Tracking Biff down is easy enough. The only problem is is that the day he gets the book, is the day of the “Under The Sea: Enchantment Ball” at the local high school; the ball Marty’s parents first kiss at. Now, not only does Marty have to struggle to retrieve the almanac, but he has to try and avoid his 3-day old, past self from spotting him.
SPOILER ALERT! . (Skip this next paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie.)
Needless to say, Marty – once again – suceedes. He even gets a second chance at watching Biff get punched by his dad, defending Loraine. Shortly after Marty retrieves the book, it starts to rain. After a few close encounters of a past kind, Marty and the Doc fly to the outside of town, where Marty proceeds to burn the almanac and restore the timeline. But just when everything is looking up, the DeLorean, coming in for a landing, is struck by lightning and vanishes. Marty is shocked. He’s now stuck in the past for good and the Doc, his best friend, is dead. Suddenly, a car pulls up. A man steps out and hands Marty a letter. He works at the bank and is delivering the letter, on year-old instructions, to the exact time, place and person matching Marty’s description. The letter is dated 1855. And it’s from the Doc. Apparently, the lightning that hit the car, sent him 100 years into the past. The Doc leaves instructions for Marty not to try and come for him. But Marty ignores Doc Brown’s request. Marty realizes that there’s only one way for both he, and the Doc, to return home.
We now revisit the second-last scene of the first movie. A 1955 Emmett Brown has just watched the original 1985 Marty vanish into the future with the DeLorean. Satisfied, he turns to leave. Surprisingly, the original shot is sustained. A moment or so later, we see the second 1985 Marty run around the corner and over to the Doc. Doc Brown is baffled at the sight of a second Marty. He had thought Marty was in the future. Marty assures him that it has worked, but that he’s back and needs the Doc’s help…again.
Spielberg and Ziemeckis return with an unbelievable, yet unforgettable sequel to the movie that rocked the time-traveling world to its core. In this elaborate continuation of the Back to the Future epic, we experience more twists, turns and humor than the first. Not to say its predecessor wasn’t adequate, but in a world of movies that tend to have worse sequels than originals, this was definitely an exception.
Originally, Spielberg had no intention of writing a sequel (as with the Indiana Jones franchise). He felt it had a great story and good ending and left it at that. Bit something persuaded him to move on. And I’m glad he did. Another fantastic show; another fantastic lesson.
Unfortunately, neither Biff, nor Marty recall what we learned from the first movie. And as for what we discover in this film…it’s pretty much the same as the first. Although this time, we see first hand the consequences of tampering with our past. It may have originally worked out for Biff, but no one else was happy. As humans, we tend to think more of our selves than others. This is demonstrated mainly through the use of the sports almanac in this movie. And though the future has been fixed, the past is still in peril. Time is ever moving. And so, shall, the adventures of our time-hopping duo continue. For next, they take the fight to the wild, wild West!
“MARTY! I just – I just sent you to the future!” “I know, Doc – I know you did. But I’m back! I’m back from the future!” “GREAT SCOTT!”
**All Images Shown Are Taken DIRECTLY From “Back to the Future” by Steven Spielburg and Robert Ziemeckis.**