We watched the first in the Back to the Future trilogy last night. I thought I remembered it well, as it was played a good deal in our house when the kids were around, but in fact the opening of it was much less familiar than the later stages. (I probably always walked in on it after it had started.)
It’s aged very well - 25 years old next year. Michael J Fox is all energy, spends a good deal of the time in a sort of half-daze while he tries to figure out what to do next, and his energy is matched superbly by the antics of Christopher Lloyd, with his pop-eyed looks of horror, and manic attempts to get everything to work the way it should.
The rest of the cast are great, and the piece is plotted so thoroughly that everything dovetails in a way you seldom see in a movie. For someone interested in structure, this is a marvellous example of how to subtly introduce information to the audience in the exposition, and then bring it back to mind in later parts of the movie, and then tie up all the loose ends before the grand finale.
It’s full of tomfoolery: the De Lorien that won’t start at the vital moment and which the Doc ‘drives’ around with a remote control ; the need for plutonium and the Libyans who’ve been conned into giving it to the Doc; the way in which Marty’s trip back in time not only causes crises about his future but also paves the way for placenames to be changed; the farmers thinking Marty in his spacesuit is a man from outer space, and then Marty taking advantage of this later on (calling himself Darth Vader in the process); the idea that the Doc could rig up a series of ‘industrial strength’ cable from a clock tower to the shop across the street and then find that the male and female parts separate at most inconvenient times; the turning of a boy’s trolley into a skateboard; the awful gaucheness of Marty’s future father and the surprising forwardness of his future mother; and the host of jokes making play of the fact that Marty comes from a different time to the rest of the characters.
It’s great fun.