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Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future (1985)
June 17, 2012 - 11:00 am

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

When eccentric scientist Emmett “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd) steals plutonium from Libyan terrorists to power his newest invention, a time-traveling DeLorean sports car, his ill-advised decision accidentally sends teenage pal Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) back in time to 1955. A twist of fate shortly thereafter leads to Marty’s future mom developing a crush on Marty instead of his future father. In order to repair the course of history and ensure his existence, Marty, with the help of the younger Doc Brown, must make his parents fall in love and figure out how to get back to 1985.

Back to the Future overcame several production challenges before becoming the year’s biggest blockbuster. Fox, initially unavailable due to his role as Alex P. Keaton on the television show "Family Ties," joined the production as Marty only after filming had begun, necessitating re-shoots and an even tighter production schedule. With a release date scheduled less than ten weeks after filming wrapped, crews worked in double shifts to complete the sound editing and visual effects needed for the film. Industrial Light & Magic produced the effects, creating such indelible images as the fire trails left behind by the DeLorean’s tire treads as it disappears, at 88 miles per hour, into the future.

A deftly executed comic adventure, Back to the Future was a hit with both young audiences and their Baby Boomer parents. The fusion of Marty’s guitarplaying, skateboarding antics with poodle skirts and sock hops, gratified youthful tastes for the latest music, fashion and pop culture as well as an older generation’s nostalgia for the culture of its own adolescence. So ubiquitous was Back to the Future that Ronald Reagan even quoted the film in his 1986 State of the Union speech, evidence of both the mutual influence of art and life upon each other and the extent to which this sci-fi gem permeated its own cultural milieu.

—Nina Rao

Amblin Entertainment. Producer: Bob Gale, Neil Canton. Screenwriter: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale. Cinematographer: Dean Cundey. Editor: Arthur Schmidt, Harry Keramidas. Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson.

35mm, color, 116 min.

* Please note: this film is also screening as part of our "Family Flicks" series.