Back In Time – A Back The Future Documentary
Great Scott! Back To The Future is an enduring, beloved sci-fi classic more than 30 years later. 2015’s documentary Back In Time is a retrospective look on the time travelling trilogy and its present day cultural influence. Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Steven Spielberg, director Robert Zemeckis, writer/executive producer Bob Gale and many more talk about their experience making the movies.
Back In Time’s hour and a half run time is divided into two parts. The first part is on The Film which features the cast and producers divulging behind the scenes stories and insight into how the Hollywood industry operates.
The interview clips with Michael J. Fox stand out because he’s comes across as refreshingly genuine. Fox has a great ability to recount stories in a fun and engaging way. The viewpoints of the various interviewees are balanced, although more clips of Fox and his perspective as the star of the franchise would be welcomed.
The second part explores the trilogy’s influence on the fans. To the documentary’s credit, the fan stories aren’t just about cosplay in Marty McFly’s famous red puffer vest or snippets about a town constructed to resemble Hill Valley. The angle presented is how fans’ love for Back To The Future is a positive influence in our culture, such as uniting different generations of one’s family or in raising money for charities.
A large section of the film is devoted to fans who have recreated their own DeLorean. One of the more memorable stories is a man who after being prognosed with 6 months to live, drove to all 50 states in a DeLorean with his wife to raise money for Michael J. Fox’s charity for Parkinson’s Disease. It’s a somewhat touching, albeit brief, tale of how the movies gave them a renewed purpose in life.
There’s a risk for Back In Time to be about people gushing in hyperbole on how the trilogy is awesome. The documentary balances it out with moments like when Dan Harmon, creator of the animated parody Rick & Morty, bluntly dismisses parts II and III. There’s also some insight into why Back To The Future resonates with so many people to this day. Although it’s not this documentary’s focus, Back In Time could have gone further and deeper with the analysis.
For a crowd sourced documentary, Back In Time is a nicely shot and edited tribute to Back To The Future and its fans. It wouldn’t be out-of-place as an extra long featurette or bonus material on, for example, a 30th Anniversary Trilogy Blu-ray. Many of the interesting facts covered are likely common knowledge to fans of the franchise. But in case you’re not familiar with the movie’s history or want a refresher, here are 10 Cool Things You Should Know About Back To The Future that were mentioned in Back In Time:
1. Tentatively Titled “Professor Brown Visits the Future”.
Back To The Future writer Bob Gale had the idea for a time travelling movie for a while but he didn’t have a hook until he went home one day and looked through his father’s old yearbook. Gale wondered what his father was like as a teenager and if he’d be friends with him if they went to high school together.
2. The Reason Why Disney Turned the Script Down
After the script was rejected by many studios, a meeting was set up with Disney. According to Bob Gale, the Disney executive looked at them like they were insane, saying “We can’t make this movie here. We’re Disney. You guys written a movie about incest!”
3. Eric Stoltz is Still in the Final Cut
As you may know, Eric Stoltz was replaced by Michael J. Fox in the lead role five weeks into filming. However, previously filmed sequences were used, including other actors reacting to Stoltz’s performance. Fox’s coverage was shot later and inserted into those scenes.
4. Power of Love is a Curious Thing
“Power Of Love” became a huge international hit song by Huey Lewis and the News. However, Lewis wasn’t originally interested in contributing because he didn’t have experience writing for a film and didn’t want to have to write a song titled “Back To The Future”. But he was told to write anything he wanted and the first or second song he came up with was Power Of Love.
5. Indiana Jones and the Refrigerator
In the initial drafts, the time machine was not a DeLorean. It was a time ray shot into a time chamber constructed from a refrigerator, lined to protect from nuclear radiation. This idea was repurposed decades later in a scene in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where Indiana Jones climbs into a refrigerator to survive a nuclear explosion.
6. You Built a Time Machine out of a … Ford Mustang?
The studio’s product placement person got a $75,000 offer from Ford to feature a Mustang instead of the DeLorean. Bob Gale told them, “Doc Brown doesn’t drive a F*** Mustang.”
7. If My Calculations Are Correct …
Of all the DeLoreans that were used while filming the Back To the Future movies only three are known to still exist. One is at Universal Studios in California, one at the Florida location and one owned by a fan.
8. Princess Diana Laughs at Poop Jokes
Prince Charles and Diana attended the opening premiere of Back To Future. As Michael J. Fox was sitting in the theater it dawned on him that the empty seat next to him would be for Diana. She laughed out loud when Biff and his friends in the convertible got covered in manure. Because Fox was told not to speak to the Royals unless spoken to, not to make contact and never to turn his back on them, he couldn’t leave his seat to go to the rest room.
9. Hoverboards Are Real
In an interview, Robert Zemeckis said that Hoverboards were real. Fans who did not realize he was joking went to toy stores in droves looking for the real thing. In 2014, a company called Hendo announced a prototype hoverboard which uses the same magnetic technology that allows high-speed trains in Japan to levitate.
10. To Be Continued …
There weren’t originally any plans for a sequel to Back The Future. The ending which had the famous line, “where we’re going, we don’t need roads” as the DeLorean flew away was supposed to be the heroes riding off into the sunset type scene. The VHS version added “to be continued” at the end but was removed in the DVDs. According to Zemekis, he has no plans to make parts IV, V or VI. The only scenario where there will be more Back To the Future movies is if his kids need the money after he’s dead.
Do you have any favorite moments from Back To The Future? Would you love it if Steven Spielberg produced a reboot of Back To The Future?