Back to the Future- plot complexities on commentary?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by TerryW, Sep 15, 2002.

  1. TerryW

    TerryW Stunt Coordinator

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    I've been watching and enjoying Back to the Future for nearly twenty years now and it still amazes me that I can think of new paradoxes and complexities regarding the detailed plot and I've always wondered just how much thought went into the screenplay or is it just another case of analyzing a film too much and reading into it things that aren't really there.

    I wonder how much of the plot will be discussed by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis on the DVD commentary tracks. Here are some points I'd like them to touch on. Spoiler alert for the rest of this post.

    I remember the first discussion was about whether or not at the end of the film, when Marty sees himself go back to the future, did he create a shadow while he was near the Mall sign that is visible at the beginning of the film when Doc gets shot. If so this would be one of several clues in the film to indicate that Marty had already time travelled before the events of the film. Some other clues are: Doc is clearly wearing a bullet-proof vest in the beginning because there is no blood when he's shot and in the opening scene with the clocks there is a clock replica of the clock tower complete with a miniature Doc hanging off of its hands. That last one could be considered an inside joke by Zemeckis.

    If anyone here remembers the articles that appeared in Starlog magazine written by Bruce Gordon then you'll recognize some of this discussion. I won't get too into this unless I see enough people want to talk about it because I could go on forever about this. I'll mention a few more things about the first film. I won't even get into the second and third movies yet.

    I've wondered about the second Marty at the end of the film the one the first Marty sees take off at Lone Pine Mall. We can probably assume that Doc was smart enough not to tell him anything about going back in time after all he was busy inventing a time machine under the immense pressure to finish it before October 26, 1985 for the unveiling at Lone Pine Mall.

    We see Marty watch himself go back in time. Well, that Marty has hip parents and family and Biff is a servant to his Dad, who also happens to be a brand new sucessful author. When this second Marty goes back he would have to do everything exactly the same as the first Marty without changing anything just so his future is as he left it. We know some things will be slightly different like the photograph of his siblings.

    I was also thinking that maybe the Doc could return the favor for this Marty for saving his life by secretly hiding an extra vile of plutonium in the car and leaving him a note to find after he's in 1955 so could come right back. But this might prevent time travel from being invented in the first place because: did Doc invent it or did Marty tell him about it? It's the chicken and the egg. Which came first. Certainly if he came right back his parents would be nerds without his interaction but who knows what they were originally. Only the writers know.

    The only way we'd know that it was the first time travel experiment is that Doc would actually die with blood everywhere. I'm wondering how many pine trees old man Peabody had on his farm initally. 88 maybe? It seems that every time Marty goes back he knocks down one more.

    I'd love to discuss this more if anyone's interested especially my theories on the ending of Part I/beginning of Part II and why they are subtly and no so subtly different.
     
  2. Colin Sims

    Colin Sims Agent

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    Sorry to dissapoint you but plot complexities are not in the commentary at all. It is in the main about the difficulties in getting a studio to agree to make then film and then the physical process of making the film.
    It is not a scene by scene commentary at all but a recording of a Q & A session for film students.
    For what you are after, you really can't go past BTTF.com. You will find a discussion forum there involving like minded folk who have been looking long and hard at this movie since it came out.
     
  3. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    Actually, I hate to dispel another theory, but that clock in Doc's garage actually shows silent film comedian Harold Lloyd hanging from the clock hands. It's a famous scene from one of Lloyd's flims.
     
  4. TerryW

    TerryW Stunt Coordinator

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    It represents Doc though and would still make sense that he would have the clock to remind him of what he went through.
     
  5. Andy_S

    Andy_S Second Unit

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    Here's a pic:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Marty M

    Marty M Cinematographer

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    With most time travel movies, you have to suspend reality and just enjoy the movie. There are just too many complexities. And remember, this is science-fiction and we have to let our imaginations take over and throw out logic.
     
  7. James Reader

    James Reader Screenwriter

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    Before Marty time-travelled there was - if you like - an alternative history. So no, Marty wouldn't see himself at the start and Doc would not remember handing off the clocktower.

    How do I know this? Because watch the film again. The testing is done in 'Twin Pines Mall' and when Marty time travels he hits one of the trees and knocks it over in 1955. When he gets 'back to the future' the mall is now called 'Lone Pine Mall'. Also Doc knocks off some of the clocktower ledge, but we clearly see an intact clocktower at the start. Again, it's only when Marty goes back that we see that the modern day clocktower also has the same piece of the ledge missing.

    So - I take that to show that the present is only affected by Marty after he time travels. I would argue that when Doc is shown being shot the first time, he is *not* wearing a bullet proof jacket and does in-fact die.

    (The lack of blood is down to the film's rating!)
     
  8. Johnny G

    Johnny G Supporting Actor

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    Doc could not send the new Marty back to the same point in time anyway because even though 1985 is different due to the changed Doc & Marty made, 1955 is now the same ie with Marty there (proven in BTTF2) and hence if Doc sent the new Marty back to the same point in time, there would be 2 Martys in the same place which Doc would never do.

    What I wanna know is where (in time) did Doc sent Marty & where did he go back to because the Marty we know would always be "present" in any new future?
     
  9. Declan

    Declan Second Unit

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    dont want to get into this..................i'd be hear hours, chtting about it. One of my all time favorites this. Definite my favorite Trilogy, a notch above Indy and a few notches above Star Wars. Although all those films are classics.
     
  10. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    The commentary is a recording of a Q&A session with students and not a scene specific commentary?
    That possibly sucks. Don't get me wrong, I haven't heard it yet so it might well be informative and actually quite good, I just like a more informal "the gang's all together" feeling that a live (ala' The Thing or C.H.U.D. or Mallrats) commentary can offer.
     
  11. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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  12. MichaelG

    MichaelG Second Unit

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    Hmmm, this reminds of the "when did time begin?" question.
     
  13. TerryW

    TerryW Stunt Coordinator

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    James:

    Yes, Twin Pines Mall becomes Lone Pine Mall but my theory is that it could have been Three Pines Mall before that and so on. And the clock tower ledge would always be intact every time Marty travelled back because that was before the lightning strike. As far as the blood, with a PG rating I think they could have shown even a miniscule amount of blood to show there was no vest if that was the intention.

    Johnny:

    Doc didn't send Marty back to November 5, 1955 that's just where the keypad was set to last when he was showing it to him. Doc didn't do anything different except put on the vest so he would've punched in the same date. Plus, there weren't two Marty's until the next day when they had to travel back together from Evil 1985.
     
  14. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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  15. RobertCharlotte

    RobertCharlotte Supporting Actor

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  16. Daniel W

    Daniel W Agent

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    If the first time that we see Marty sent back in time is not the first occassion that this has happened, shouldn't Marty's parents already be hip? If this was not the first occurrence of Marty going back in time, were his parents only losers because of something Marty did the first time he went back? I've got more, but it'll have to come later as lunch awaits. [​IMG]
    Ok, back from lunch. What I find interesting is the meeting between Marty and George in Lou's diner just before George goes "bird watching". At the start of BTTF, we are told that George and Loraine only fell in love because Loraine's father hit George with his car. Therefore, in the 1955 that had taken place at the start of the film, George would have had to be in the street precisely when Loraine's father's car was only a few feet away.
    In the 1955 that we see Marty travel back to, he meets George mere minutes before George falls from the tree. At this initial meeting, George is confronted by Biff, who spends a few seconds making a joke at Marty's expense (about the "life jacket" IIRC). This offhanded remark should have put George a few seconds behind his previous schedule. Thus, he shouldn't have fallen out of the tree at the exact moment that he could have been hit by the car. However, George does fall out of the tree at the exact time that he should, only to be saved by Marty. (I realize that George probably spent several minutes in the tree so the few seconds he was set back from meeting Mary arguably didn't make a difference, but since he fell because he lost his grip, he presumably would have lost his grip and fallen sooner if he had not met Marty, and therefore would have been well ahead of the car).
    This leads me to believe that in the 1955 from the begining of the movie, George had actually met Marty, but Marty, for whatever reason, didn't act to push George out of the way of the car, and instead left George to be hit. This leads to several other questions: If George's interaction with Marty is what set him on course to fall out of the tree at just the right time, how does Marty even exist in the first place? Was there an original timeline, that we were far beyond when the film began? In that timeline, had George and Loraine gotten together in some other way? Did George actually marry someone else and have a different child, who befriended Doc Brown, went back in time, and met George at Lou's diner, thereby erasing his own existence and creating Marty?
    I've seen these movies countless times, but surprisingly never gave any of this much thought. Intersting stuff. If there's more of this type of discussion at BTTF.com' I'll have to check it out.
    BTW. I haven't seen BTTF for awhile, but it occurs to me that George might have fallen out of the tree because he was startled by the car. If so, the entire middle portion of this post is either wrong, or would require a much greater explanation than I'm willing to spend time on right now. [​IMG]
     
  17. Dharmesh C

    Dharmesh C Supporting Actor

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    So, are there 2 commentary tracks on the R1? The Q and A and screen specific?
     
  18. Johnny G

    Johnny G Supporting Actor

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    Terry,

    When Doc sent Marty back the 2nd time, he would have known what he'd done in the original 1985 & studied it accordingly, hence deciding not to send Marty back to 1955 in the new 1985.

    All I meant by referring to BTTF2 was that it proved my point if the new Marty went back to 1955, I wasn't saying there would be 2 Martys there already but sending the new Marty would make 2.

    The plot falls down when you consider the part about Marty not existing if his parent didn't get together. Forcing them to get together made them have Marty but when he went back to the future (1985), the Marty they'd made was there but so was he, so forcing them to make him ended up having 2 Martys exist.
     
  19. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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  20. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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