Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reflecting on Back to the Future

Back to the Future is one of those films where I never tire of hearing stories about it.  With all my DVDs and everything I have access to on the Internet, the one "making-of" tale that I keep revisiting is Back to the Future.  I have no idea what makes the making of that movie so compelling to me.  Probably because it's one of the few films where, no matter how many times I've seen it, I always discover something new the next time I watch it. 

I think it all stems from the first time I spotted something new.  When I was about 12 years old and watching it for the 100th time, my brain finally picked up on something.  At the end of the film, when Marty returns to 1985 and heads off to the mall to save Doc Brown, the mall is now called the "Lone Pine Mall."  But in the beginning, it was called the "Twin Pines Mall."  What happened?  Then I remembered.  When Marty first arrived in 1985, he ran over one of the twin pines and destroyed it.  And the timeline was altered.  It's little things like that that has made Back to the Future a textbook case in film schools the whole world over on how to set up a gag and have it pay off later in the film.

The big 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray of Back to the Future went on sale this week, and the Internet is a flood with new stories about the film.  Like this one which came across my desk the other day.  In the opening credits of the film, as the camera pans through Doc Brown's workshop, the camera lingers on a framed newspaper clipping, saying that the mansion that Doc Brown lived in in 1955 was destroyed in a fire.  In a recent interview, what producer/co-writer Bob Gale said was, what they had hoped to imply with that newspaper -- imply, not say -- was that Doc Brown burnt down his own house in an insurance scam to raise the money to build the time machine.  Wow.  That puts Doc Brown in a whole new light. 

Another story I recently came across.  The well-known story is that Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly.  Stoltz was dismissed from the production several weeks into filming when the producers and the director found his work to be unsuitable.  But did you ever wonder what Stoltz was doing that was so unsuitable?  Lea Thompson said what Stoltz was doing in an interview a few years back.  Apparently, Stoltz took a look at the whole gag where Lorraine falls in love with Marty and thought, "A mother falling love with her own son?  Why, this must be a sci-fi re-imagining of Oedipus Rex.  I will play the whole thing like it's a Greek tragedy."  And no matter how many times director Robert Zemeckis explained to Stoltz that the whole thing was a comedy, Stoltz kept playing the material like it was a tragedy and Marty McFly was this epic, tragic character.  And if you've ever seen that video on Cracked.com that explains how Back to the Future is secretly horrifying, Stoltz may have been on to something. 

But yeah.  So many great stories about Back to the Future.  And I'm always learning more. 

No comments: