Back to the Future (1985) Poster

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Seventeen-year-old high school student Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is accidentally sent back 30 years to 1955 in a plutonium-powered DeLorean time machine made by his inventor friend Dr Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Before he can get back to the future, however, Marty must make sure that his teenage parents-to-be, George McFly (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson), meet and fall in love or Marty's existence might be snuffed out. Unfortunately, Lorraine seems to have the hots for Marty and doesn't care a hoot about George.

  • Back to the Future is based on a screenplay written by American filmmakers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It was followed by two sequels: Back to the Future Part II (1989) (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990) (1990).

  • 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.

  • 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, just like Doc Brown explains. 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.

  • "Out The Window" by Eddie Van Halen. The song was released on the soundtrack for the 1984 film The Wild Life. It's one of the only Eddie Van Halen songs that was never released on a Van Halen album.

  • 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.

  • This is a nod to the late Stanley Kubrick. In 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (1968), the license plate number of the ship, the Discovery, is CRM-114. In A Clockwork Orange (1971) (1971), the serum to make Alex sick is Serum (pronounced similar to C-R-M) 114. And in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) (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 up 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.

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

  • Yes. Marty's presence in the past affected his mother's, father's, Biff's 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 drastically.

    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 in the scene where manure gets dumped on Biff's (Thomas F. Wilson) car.

  • Hoping to keep the Libyans from shooting Doc Brown, Marty races back to the Mall just in time to see Doc get shot and himself driving off in the DeLorean. In tears, Marty rushes over to help Doc and is surprised when he suddenly sits up unharmed, revealing a bulletproof vest under his clothes. Turns out that Doc taped back together Marty's letter of warning and was prepared for the Libyan attack. After dropping Marty off at home, Doc announces that he's going to take a trip into the future, maybe to about 30 years hence. Marty awakens the next morning thinking that it was all a nightmare and is shocked to see that his family has changed. His house is tastefully decorated, his parents are "cool", his father is a published author, and Biff is outside waxing the family cars. As Marty opens the garage to see his own Toyota 4x4, his girlfriend Jennifer Parker (Claudia Wells) drops by, and they share a kiss. Suddenly, an explosion is heard, and the DeLeoan comes to a screeching halt in the driveway. Doc gets out and tells Marty to get in the car. While he rummages through a garbage can to fill up the car's Mr Fusion Home Energy Reactor with "fuel", he explains that something has to be done about their kids, requiring they go back to the future. All three pile back into the DeLorean, and Doc backs it out on the street. When Marty warns Doc to back up a bit further so that they can get enough road to reach the speed they need, Doc replies, "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!" The DeLorean begins to hover and flies away.

  • Doc explains early on in the film that, although the time machine runs on electricity, it needs a nuclear reactor to produce the 1.21 gigawatts needed to generate the electricity. Consequently, he made a deal with some Libyan nationalists. They provided him with stolen plutonium in exchange for a bomb. But Doc kept the plutonium and give them a bomb casing made of used pinball machine parts. Having been ripped off (or even effectively sabotaged at inconvenient timing, possibly suffering losses as a result), naturally these Libyans wanted revenge. In 1985, diplomatic relations between the United States and the North African country of Libya were highly strained, with Libya's then-president Muammar Gaddafi expressing very angry anti-American sentiment to the world and the US's then-president Ronald Reagan countering that he wouldn't tolerate terrorist threats from Gaddafi. Having Doc make an illegal deal with a couple of Libyan "nationals" (as he puts it) for the stolen plutonium makes for a convenient story item that reflects the time period. In the years after the film, US-Libyan relations would turn violent with Libya sponsoring a terrorist bombing of a West German club which American soldiers frequented. In retaliation, the US bombed the cities of Benghazi and Tripoli in Libya, killing Gaddafi adopted daughter, among others. The escalating violence climaxed in 1988 when Libyan terrorists placed a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing over 200 people.

  • 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 his siblings Dave and Linda at the breakfast table.

  • 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; or (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.

  • 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.

  • For one thing, thirty years have passed since the time Marty spent in the past. Marty was only actually there for a week and he probably only spent several hours of time with George and Lorraine. True, he played a major role in their lives since he was the one who helped them get together, but they didn't actually spend a lot of time with him. If they did notice the resemblance it's likely they chalked it up to coincidence, rather than assuming that their son, who they had known for his entire life, was the same man they had met earlier. Some suggest that George should have been suspicious that Marty might be the son of "Calvin Klein". However, Marty is only about 17 years old in 1985 and it has been thirty years since George or Lorraine knew Calvin. In addition, George had neither reason nor instinct to ever believe that Marty wasn't his biological son, and in all the years that Marty's parents watched him grow, Marty might never have exhibited a behavior especially reminiscent of "Calvin Klein", which for otherwise leads us back to idea of assumptions of coincidence being made by the parents in their ignorance of time travel capability.

  • 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, like George's dad (who we never see or hear the name of) or some other relative not mentioned in the films, or even 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.

  • 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 called the grandfather paradox, and there are several literary 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 slightly different solution to the paradox, "slight" in the sense that the lack of erasure is the primary distinction.) 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.

  • 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).


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