In Back to the Future, Marty McFly goes back 30 years from 1985 to 1955 and discovers a strange new (old) world that’s alien to him. Were it set today, and Marty went back 30 years, he’d be in the bizarre land of…the early 80s.
Which means that in BTTF terms, we’re now in the future. We’re nearer the flying-car world of BTTF II than the big-specs/pink-leggings world of BTTF’s present day. So where are our hoverboards? Where are our trainers that fasten themselves? Back To The Future II reckons 2015 sees the launch of Jaws 19 (with hologram shark emerging from the poster) – so they’d better start releasing new Jaws films at a rate of one every two months to make sure we get there in time.
Seen Back to the Future recently? Of course you have. It’s on ITV4 every other week. (ITV4 – could we have dreamt of such a thing thirty years ago? Did we ever see the need? Did we ever look at ITV in the mid-80s and think, “You know what this needs? Three more channels of this.”)
If you’re like me (mid-to-late 20s… alright, late 20s… alright I’m 33), you may have an image in your head of the great (Scott) film, that it looks fairly, well, normal. Present day. We haven’t changed much since 1985, have we? Well it turns out we have. Leaving the fashions and the music aside, you’ll notice a complete lack of mobile phones, no one’s checking Facebook every eight seconds, and they mostly spend time in and around the town square.
Remember town centres? That’s where shops used to be before the internet came along. Then of course there was that middle era where shops on the high street were still there, but we used them to browse in, see what we wanted to order online when we got home, and never spend money in. Then there was that brief period where smartphone apps mean you can quite brazenly scan a label in a shop, find a cheaper online equivalent while stood there, and order it while in the store, before you’ve even had time to answer the assistant with a “Just browsing thanks.” Then there’s later era, with the boarded-up shops, when the town centre is basically one giant Starbucks.
Back to the Future recognised the up-and-coming prevalence of the out-of-town shopping mall of course, with the Twin Pines (or Lone Pine) Mall. It’s here that the finest example of the 80s makes its grand entrance – the Delorean. What a car. They don’t say so, but I’m sure the reason they park it out of town in a deserted mall car park is because the gull-wing doors open upwards, meaning you can’t park it next to a wall or another car and open the door with great ease.
Did you know that the original plan was for the time machine to not be a Delorean car but a fridge? Spielberg argued though that it may encourage kids to shut themselves in fridges to emulate Marty, which could be dangerous for them. So instead they made the time machine the safer option: a sports car you have to drive at 88mph. Nice one, Spiely. So it’s thanks to you we have drag-racing round my local shopping centre car park every Friday night.
I’m sounding downbeat. I love this film. I love the quotes, the story, the technology, the music – oh the music. I guess I’m just bitter that all this time has passed, and we still haven’t got hoverboards.
I blame the government. All these cuts, all this economic stifling. To break away from Back to the Future for a moment, let me say that the love of power is a curious thing. Makes one man weep, make another man sing. Change a hawk to a little white dove. More than a feeling, that’s the love of power. Sorry, that’s what happens when you confuse Huey Lewis, and the news.
No, it turns out, I can’t break away from Back to the Future. And oh look, ITV4 are showing it again…