Back to the Future
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Back to the Future can be found here.

There are three movies in the Back to the Future franchise. Back to the Future was followed by Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990).

First, thirty years have passed since then. Marty was in 1955 for only a week, and in that week he was actually with George and/or Lorraine for a matter of hours. Yes, he had a big influence on their lives, but all the same they did not see him very much, and it's not likely that they would remember his face after thirty years. Many of us have trouble seeing the faces of persons we've seen hours ago. Second, it's not as if they suddenly see Marty again out of nowhere. He is their son; they had brought him up from birth, seeing him grow up through the ages. Even if they did think there was a resemblance, wouldn't it be likely that George and Lorraine would either a) put it down to a coincidence, e.g. Lorraine: "Hey George, you know who Marty reminds me of? That guy Calvin Klein we knew for a week in High School!" George: "Yeah, I remember him. Ha! That's kind of funny since that's where we came up with the name Marty, huh?" OR b) consider it to be the same guy? Lorraine: "George, I can't believe this, but I think our son Marty is the same guy we knew for a week in 1955!" Of course, it not mentioned whether George ever noticed the suspiciously close resemblance between the boy he thinks is his son and his wife's old boyfriend, or if he ever broached the subject with Lorraine. They don't even remember Marty being the one who got them together. At the end of the movie, they mention that if it hadn't been for Biff, then they wouldn't ever have gotten together. So, why would they remember him?

No. Einstein doesn't live out that minute: he exits the space-time continuum at 1:20, and re-enters it at 1:21, completely skipping over that minute in time. One minute passes for Marty and Doc before they meet Einstein. But for Einstein, the trip is instantaneous. Therefore Einstein is a minute younger to Marty and Doc than he was before entering the time machine.

Einstein was never going to return to the time he left. There was no reason for him to do so; his sole function was to prove that the DeLorean worked. At 1:20 am, he left the space-time continuum. He re-entered it at 1:21 am, completely skipping the minute over. After that, he ran off into the trailer. He never lived out that minute, unlike the human travelers in Part 2, who went back to live out the period of 1985-2015. In Part 2, however, Marty, Doc and Jennifer went into the future and then returned to 1985. The future selves they saw were the future of their selves that returned to 1985.

We never find out. In an early draft of the screenplay, Marty got to know Doc when he was 15; he would do odd jobs for him as an assistant, initially as an after-school job, but after some time they became friends:


MARTY: Doc Brown's all right - he's just a little hung up on time. A couple of years ago he showed up at my house and hired me to sweep out this garage of his. He pays me 50 bucks a week, gives me free beer...and gives me total access to his record collection - he's got this great old record collection.
As per a Mental Floss post by Back to the Future's co-creater Bob Gale:

Okay, from the horses mouth (yes, Im the horse er, co-writer, co-creator): We never explained it in the movie. But the history of the characters that Bob Zemeckis and I created is this For years, Marty was told that Doc Brown was dangerous, a crackpot, a lunatic. So, being a red-blooded American teenage boy, age 13 or 14, he decided to find out just why this guy was so dangerous. Marty snuck into Docs lab, and was fascinated by all the cool stuff that was there. when Doc found him there, he was delighted to find that Marty thought he was cool and accepted him for what he was. Both of them were the black sheep in their respective environments. Doc gave Marty a part-time job to help with experiments, tend to the lab, tend to the dog, etc. And thats the origin of their relationship.

Lorraine said that she liked the name Marty, but that doesn't automatically mean that she intended to name any of her children that. Dave McFly could have been named after someone else, perhaps a distant relative not mentioned in the films, or a friend. Maybe they just liked the name David more. It's also possible that they completely forgot about considering the name Marty until Marty was born.

The song did not have a title at the time. If you look at the tape it says Edward Van Halen because it was an original score done by him.

Most people agree that the Marty we see going back in time at the end of Part 1 grew up in the new timeline with a wealthy family, and would have had a different personality. As for his memories, there are two schools of thought. One school believes that, due to the ripple effect, time needs to catch up, so Marty's personality would get rewritten and he would get his new memories as well. Eventually he would remember not having been surprised to see the truck, and the timeline might change slightly to reflect his resulting actions. The other school believes that Marty's memories would not change, the reason being that, while time traveling, Marty was outside his timeline and thus not affected by any changes he made, other than physical ones. There's an extension of the self-preservation theory that says the space-time continuum would naturally try to prevent paradoxes like these. It should be noted that Marty in the beginning of the film has a problem with sending the demo to a record company because of low self-confidence, as opposed to the ending of the film where a short scene shows him preparing the letter - just before he meets Dave and Jennifer.

The hair dryer was in a suitcase that the 1985 Doc put into the DeLorean trunk at Twin Pines Mall. There was a scene in which the 1955 Doc looks through the contents of that suitcase, picks up the hair dryer and asks "What's this?" "A hair dryer," Marty replies. Doc shakes his head and says, "A hair dryer? Don't they have towels in the future?" The scene was cut from the final film for time.

After he rips up the letter, Doc is shown putting the pieces into his pocket. Later in 1985, when he takes it out, you can see that it has been taped back together.

It seems odd that Doc would be so against having knowledge of the future, but then later piece together a letter he knows details future events. So why the change of heart? Doc did stuff the ripped letter back into his pocket so he obviously knew that it might contain important information. There are three ideas and the final answer may even be a hybrid of these:

1) The most obvious reason is as Doc states, "What the hell." He was simply curious and it saved his life.

2) The more subtle reason, being the intelligent person he is, is that Doc realized something went wrong. Notice how he many times he replays the part of the tape where his future self says, "They found me. I don't know how they found me. Run for it Marty!" That, in addition to Marty obviously being unprepared to travel through time and his insistence that he talk about the future, would be enough for Doc to realize that something went wrong.

3) Marty relays to Doc that his dad laid out Biff. Marty said, "He never stood up to Biff in his life!" Doc whispers, "Never? In his life?" and the look on his face looked like a moment of epiphany. He must have realized at that point that since Marty had already altered the future, maybe changing the future isn't so bad as long as it's for the better.

This is called the Grandfather Paradox, and there are several solutions to it.

1) The Echo Theory (official solution from the Back to the Future writers): When Marty erases himself from existence, he creates a world where he was never born. His entire existence comes into being on the 5th of November 1955, when he arrived in the past. When the erasure is complete, this is not really Marty, but just an echo of him, whose sole function is to erase him from existence. So the timelines go: Timeline A: Marty is born, 1985; Marty goes back in time, 1985. Timeline B (final timeline): Marty arrives out of nowhere in 1955 and erases himself from existence. He vanishes.

2) Alternate Universes (NOTE: The Back to the Future writers say that there are no alternate universes involved in the trilogy, but this is just to show a different solution to the paradox.) Marty goes back in time. He makes it such that he was never born. But this does not cause him to fade from existence. The photograph will not show his siblings disappearing. He spends his time in 1955 oblivious of what he has done, but when he goes back to the future, he discovers a world in which he never existed. Marty spends the rest of his life wandering the planet as a stranger whom no one knows, except maybe as an old schoolmate from long ago in 1955.

3) The Self-Preservation Effect (SPE) Marty goes back in time and erases himself from existence. 1985 comes along, and he is never born. There is no Marty to go back in time and ensure that he is never born. To prevent a paradox and prevent itself from blowing up, the space-time continuum makes sure that Marty is never born through other ways. Maybe George is instantly killed when Sam's car hits him. Maybe Lorraine spontaneously bursts into flames. Maybe a fire starts out at the school dance before they get a chance to fall in love. And so on, at the end of which Marty is never born.

4) The Universe Blows Up It's the most convenient of the lot. Happily, the damage would probably be limited to just the nearby galaxies.

No. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale initially did not intend to do a sequel, and the ending where Doc whisks Marty and Jennifer off to the future was meant as a joke. They have stated in interviews that if they'd really had plans for a sequel, they would have left Jennifer out of the final scene, since the character would only slow things down (which is why Jennifer is so quickly 'discarded' in the beginning of Part II). However, when the original proved very successful and the studio announced that they were going to make a sequel anyway, Zemeckis and Gale preferred to be involved on their own terms. 'To Be Continued' was added to the video version before Part II came out. That was the first inkling most people had that there would be a sequel. This unexpected addition resulted in a great deal of speculation which, of course, turned out to be true. It appears in the DVD [reportedly in the collection pack from Region 2 only], complementing the ending title card "To Be Concluded" on Back To The Future Part II.

This is a nod to the late Stanley Kubrick. In 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the license plate number of the ship, Discovery, is CRM-114. In A Clockwork Orange (1971), the serum to make Alex sick is Serum (CRM pronounced as a word) 114. And in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), there is a decoder device called the CRM-114. All three of these movies were directed by Kubrick.

To recap: When Marty first goes back to 1955 and meets Doc, Doc doesn't believe Marty is from the future. When Marty tells Doc that Ronald Reagan is the president, Doc is astonished. A couple of lines later, he yells, "I suppose Jane Wyman is the first lady!" Jane Wyman was Reagan's wife from 1940-1948, but Reagan had already divorced Wyman and married Nancy Davis in 1952. Some viewers think that the writers may have slipped up (or just did not keep on with news); others think that Doc was being sarcastic, especially since he also asks if comedians Jerry Lewis and Jack Benny are Reagan's Vice President and Treasury Secretary.

How old is Marty?

Marty is said to be seventeen years old, evidenced at the end of the movie when Doc takes Marty home. Marty asks him how long he's traveling, and Doc replies, "About 30 years." Marty then states that in 30 years he'll be 47. Do the math: 47-30=17.

By the end of the movie, Marty is just one week older. He left 1985 on October 26 at 0135, and entered 1955 on November 5th at 0600, and then left November 12th at 2204, which totals one week, 16 hours, four minutes. Marty re-enters the timeline 11 minutes earlier at 0124, thus making him one week, 16 hours, 15 minutes older than he was on October 26th, 1985, at 0135 when he left.

Yes. Marty's presence in the past affected his mothers, fathers, Biffs and Doc's only (also other people's lives but that isn't relevant). When he arrives back to 1985 he discovers that Doc is still alive and was wearing a bullet proof vest. This is because as we find out Doc read the letter, but the Doc we saw before Marty went back to 1955 really did die. A similar thing is how Marty's family from the first 1985 seemed almost poor and just another local family and how Marty in 1955 made his father stand up for himself, if this never happened then George most likely would never have become rich and famous. So even though there was no "butterfly effect" there still is a mild one, but it was mild enough not to change the future extremely

Doc wouldn't "already" know Marty in 1955. In the original history, Doc and Marty met by some unknown series of events, purely by happenstance (Doc perhaps taking an ad out in the paper for a lab assistant/grunt, for example; and Marty happened to answer it). Ultimately, as a result of this incidental meeting and friendship, Marty goes back in time, where he meets Doc ahead of the original sequence of events (ahead of time for Doc at least). Now as time moves forward in the new timeline, Doc knows of Marty and that they'll eventually meet; but he may still not know how. Because Doc's aware of possible repercussions of knowing about your own future, he probably wouldn't have asked Marty how they met, not would he have sought out Marty prematurely; instead patiently waited for events to occur naturally, being pleasantly surprised when it finally did happens (Such as Doc taking out an ad, only to find and recognize Marty answering the ad.)

No, they used peat moss as a substitute for manure in the scene.

The itv-Version is missing 60.92 seconds due to 14 cuts. There is additional time difference due to a longer black screen at the beginning of the DVD and marginal cuts before each commercial break in the itv-Version (mostly under 1 second). A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.

Maybe not. BTTF2 suggests that the answer is: no. At the end of BTTF1, when Marty re-enters in 1985 few minutes before Doc would be killed, we can see the "younger" self of Marty departing from 1985. "That" Marty is the so-called "Lone Pine Marty", the Marty raised by the successful new versions of his parents. Thus, his memories and experiences are very different from the Twin Pines Marty's ones. So where did he end if in 1955 there's already one Marty operating, Twin Pines Marty? We must assume that in 1955 Lone Pine Marty just "replaced" Twin Pines Marty and did things the same exact way his previous counterpart did in BTTF1. The "Marty operating in 1955" we see in BTTF2 is indeed Lone Pine Marty. Finally, we must assume that at some point, maybe just moments before the very end of BTTF1 when Doc came from the future to "save Marty and Jennifer's kids", Twin Pines Marty disappeared and was replaced by Lone Pine Marty with a whole new set of memories. The Ripple Effect just caught up with him, so to speak.

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