“Yeah, but what if you went back and killed your own grandfather?”
He stared at me, baffled. “Why the fuck would you do that?”
~ Stephen King
The film is ranked 49th in the IMDb top 250 list.
Time is such a vague yet interesting concept. Every great mind of modern times has spent time thinking about “time”. And for me, the Back to the future trilogy remains the best work in this subject.
If we take the time travel part out of the picture, we have a simple premise – a troubled teenager trying to correct a few wrongs in his life. This is what intrigues me! A simple premise embellished with a compelling treatment. Every good film has this feature in common.
I have watched this film so many times by now that I know the film frame by frame. Yet every time I watch it, I get excited when, in Marty’s language he discovers something, “heavy”. I love explaining the intricate details to my younger brother, just the way my dad did to me. It feels like passing on a legacy.
Why is the film so special?
Foreshadowing – a sign or warning about an incident in future
If I am correct, every major event casts foreshadow. The plutonium used in the DeLorean is shown missing on the news in the very first scene. We get an idea that Marty (Michael J. Fox) will not have any plutonium in the car, as Doc (Christopher Lloyd) mentions carrying extra shards during time travel. It is like letting the audience think that they knew it was coming, so that when it actually happens they link it to the former events and as a result recall it. If your foreshadowing succeeds you have an active audience. Nothing works better than an active audience!
The film does not really highlight this theory, but still I feel the makers must have studied it while making.
The Butterfly Effect – Can the flutter of a butterfly in Brazil cause tornado in Texas? Our smallest actions, do they have strong repercussions on the Universe? Wikipedia makes it real boring. I gave a more poetic, simple version.
Lastly, talking about the theme now. Ah, again! Who would not like to go back in past and see the moments when their parents actually fell for each other. I would like to see my father sweeping my mother off her feet. I would love to check how much of it is true and how much is, you know, amplified! I love the film because I can clearly see myself as the protagonist. I always have and I always will. And I am sure I am not the only one to feel so!
* I could not help but enter Spielberg’s name in the title. You have all the ingredients to a good Spielberg film in this one although he did not actually direct it.