A Timeless Classic With a Universal Meaning

Nostalgia for a classic time travel movie in full force

by Rey Galvan (Staff Writer) – 11/5/15

Iconic DeLorean Time Machine That the Protagonists Used To Travel In The Future
Iconic DeLorean Time Machine That the Protagonists Used To Travel In The Future

Millions of fans of the Back To The Future trilogy united through social media, movie theaters, and other locations to celebrate the time travel franchise in its glory for its’ iconic piece of contribution to pop culture on the 21st of October of this month.

Back To The Future, along with its accompanying sequels, is a timeless classic that  appeals to the general audience in various ways by demonstrating universal themes with fun and spontaneous storytelling

The film is centered around teenager Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, who goes back in time by accident and meets his parents when they were teenagers. He attempts to fix the damage by making sure his parents fall in love with each other. In order to do this, he needs the help of a younger Doc Brown, Christopher Lloyd, the scientist who created the time machine built from a DeLorean.

The film takes on the complicated concept of time travel, which, believe it or not, is something that isn’t easy to get right. Only few have succeeded including those who penned Terminator 2, Groundhog Day, and X-Men: Days of Future Past just to list some. Essentially the idea of time travel is most often used to fix a mistake from the past or prevent something from happening in the future. This film isn’t any different, especially by using this typical storyline and transforming it into something different.

One of the reasons that the film is such a success and very universal because we see ourselves in Marty McFly. Most of us at one point in our lives wished we could go back in time to see something historical happen. Some of us might have even wanted to go to that time to see our parents fall in love. In this case, Marty inadvertently succeeds in doing so and the outcome is beyond awkward. Marty accidentally gets his mother, played by Switched At Birth’s Lea Thompson, to develop a crush on him, one of the most funny yet awkward/ insane situations explored in the film that nobody wishes to ever be in.

Family is another concept explored in the film in different angles. Marty does the impossible to not only save the past but his family as well. In the movie, his family isn’t a normal one and Marty acknowledges it. However, just like everyone in the real world, we learn to accept one another and help each other. Marty does the exact thing towards the end when the situation is looking grim between his mother and father in the past. He helps them after learning a few lessons himself.

Everyone has different opinions on what makes the film work. Screenwriter Michael Givens believes that Back To The Future succeeds in telling a different tale of time travel and its’ meaning. “Time travel films are great for a few reasons.  On a personal level it allows us to play with the idea we all wish at one point, which is what if I could back and change my past mistakes?  But the wrinkle storytellers add is that if you change one thing, then other threads of the past, present, and future could unravel.”

While I can go on to say more ideas on why the franchise is so great and appeals to everyone, everyone has their own opinion on what makes it work. It succeeds in using the ideology of being a teenager and pop culture that surrounded both eras in the first film very well. There is a scene where Marty plays rock and roll for the first time at the dance where his parents are supposed to fall in love. This scene is a perfect example of different eras merging with different pop cultures for teenagers.

Givens believes, “What makes Back To The Future so amazing on a story level is the attention to detail with cause and effect, it’s humor, family dynamics, just enough sweetness without being sticky, and a breathless race to a stunning climax where everything pays off.  Every action has an echo or repercussion.”

Back To The Future is a very fun way of exploring a big “what if” scenario that compelled many people to enjoy it so well. If this wasn’t true, why would fans go to great lengths to go honor the film based on a historical date?

As Marty cleverly tells his future father, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.” Creator Bob Gale truly accomplished something big.