…and the quest to see everything

BTTF: Made in Man’s Image

ph. Universal

The opening credits of Back to The Future is reminiscent of one of the first sequences of Little Children. Just because both movies relatively show the same objects during their first scenes doesn’t mean that Todd Field referenced Robert Zemeckis. Besides, Little Children chooses a montage while Back to the Future pans the length of Dr. Emmett Brown’s (Christopher Lloyd) counter top in a long take. But we like to play this game? What else do those movies have in common? Which characters stand for who? Knick-knacky tendencies of outsider characters from suburbia? I’ll get to suburbia later.

Watching this movie in my childhood, this probably got me starting to say…

I believe that Biff Tannen (Thomas J. Wilson) is partly at fault for my bad choices in men. On a trivia contest before the TIFF screening of this film, my friend Sarah answered that Billy Zane was in this movie. I couldn’t see him until catching that still.

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) enters 1955 and is a little freaked out by the cleanliness of 1955 Hill Valley. He comes back and finds 1985 ‘great,’ as if having a reverse George Bailey moment because he doesn’t come back to perfection, he comes back to what is his. I’m projecting here, but we’ve been desensitized to the discomfort of seeing a homeless person or a porno theatre that I understand Marty’s slight comfort in seeing those things.

Peter Kuplowsky of TwitchFilm introduced Back to the Future and, paraphrasing, called it Reagan, pro-car propaganda but enjoyable and excellently made. Which makes me question myself in defending the film’s politics and its idealization of suburbia as the meeting point between the urban dirt and rural domesticity, that Marty justifies George (Crispin Glover) earning the right to be routinely mean to his wife’s (Lea Thompson) rapist because there’s a looming threat that it could be the other way around? It’s the fine-tuned innocent approach to this lack of innocence that makes this movie a little richer.

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2 responses

  1. Dan

    Wonderful look back at a great film. It’s particularly interesting that you speak of Marty being happy in the 1985 existence he knows. It isn’t something I’ve thought about before, despite seeing the film more times than I care to remember. But I can understand the safe haven being familiarity. But I think it ultimately comes back to the idea that even though Marty never leaves the physical location (only the time period) he does end up a long way from home. And just like Dorothy, there’s no place like home.

    April 6, 2011 at 5:30 am

  2. Pingback: Singin’ in the Dark 80′s « Okinawa Assault

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