I am such a massive geek, I have been planning for months to celebrate Back to the Future today on October 21st 2015. I was originally planning on even having the post release at precisely the when in California when Doc Brown, Marty and Jennifer arrive in Hill Valley at 4:29pm Pacific time. I am that big a geek; at least in planning.
In reality, I could not wait a moment longer to celebrate October 21st 2015. I’m such a big fan that I can’t even say 21st October as would be the British convention; Christopher Lloyd’s voice in my head just won’t allow it. And now you know just how serious I am about these films.
If you’re not as massive a fan as I am then quite frankly I don’t mind you judging me but Back to the Future has a place in my heart that no other fandom could ever compete with, because you can only have one fandom that was your first fandom. The trilogy has been for years before the good folks of the web even thought to coin the word fandom. Before Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate SG-1, Doctor Who, Narnia, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter (and many others) found places in my heart and began to inspire me as a writer, I had Back to the Future.
I grew up with a four box VHS set of the films, with the then little known joy of extras included on the fourth tape. I was obsessed with watching the films and the extras for years. I’m fairly certain I actually wore the tapes out I watched the films over and over again. I know I wore the spine of my Back to the Future Behind the Scenes book away to nothing because I read it so much. I love the films and I have never got bored watching them. As a massive fan I cannot believe that we have finally reached the future of those films.
Back to the Future is seriously important to me and this chance to celebrate something so important to me is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Harry Potter and Star Wars was set in the past; Star Trek the future beyond my lifetime; Stargate SG-1 was contemporary. I haven’t found the road that goes ever on and leads to Middle Earth just yet, the Doctor hasn’t materialised in a unmistakable wheeze of an engine fighting its handbrake, and the back of all my wardrobes have stayed firmly solid.
Seeing the day they travel forward to in Back to the Future 2 has been an easily attainable goal for most of my life. I have grown up with this date burned into my brain. Admittedly part of my celebrations include going to the dentist (which was not what I had envisioned) but it also includes finally being able to see the films as they were originally intended to be seen; at the cinema.
I’ve seen Back to the Future at the cinema when it was re-mastered for it’s 25th anniversary, but Part 2 and 3 have always been a home viewing experience for me and I am so excited. There is nothing quite like seeing a film at the cinema. I was lucky enough be the right age to have never seen the original Star Wars trilogy before the extended versions were launched in the 90s. I got to see them for the first time in the cinema. I was at precisely the right age to see the Lord of the Rings in the cinema (on many repeated visits as well). I now live close to a great cinema that likes to do showings of classic films.
Needless to say, I think the last time I was this excited about going to the cinema to see a film was probably when Return of the King was released. I mean I’ve been excited about films in the meanwhile, but Back to the Future is on a whole other level beyond even Lord of the Rings, which in my mind comes closest to competing in terms of my passion for it and its influence over me.
Because there is a universally acknowledged truth about the Back to the Future trilogy; the storytelling in Back to the Future is a perfect master class in how to do it right. The scripts don’t waste a syllable in making sure that the story is being driven forward; the character’s are engaging the audience’s attention whilst also conveying important plot points. The inter-cutting of Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part Two was executed perfectly. The small details of Hill Valley evolving from a town founded in the 19th Century, into a town of 1950s America, 1980s America and finally (and always most excitingly for me) a town of 2015, the future. The trilogy is just perfection.
The trilogy has always been a fantastic inspiration on me as a person and as a writer. I’m academically a historian; one of the things that I loved the most about the films is the changes you can see in Hill Valley from a social history perspective; things like clothes, transport, the physical development and changes in the town itself. What I hadn’t realised until very recently that I trained as a historian and I specialised in social history, because like in the creation of Hill Valley in Back to the Future, the reconstruction of history from a social perspective is infinitely more interesting than political or military history ever will be. I know that whenever I was studying the change of one place, like my home town I was thinking about how Hill Valley changed over time as well.
As a writer, Back to the Future being suitable for kids meant it has been something I watched very young and loved, and it opened to door to many others obsessions over the years (helped along by my parents own interests) in science fiction and fantasy. I love time travel stories, but because of Back to the Future I also firmly believe that you have create characters the audience wants to invest in who go on a fabulous journey. Admittedly Back to the Future is a very feel good film, and I do now tend to write much darker stories, but I hold to the principle that if you don’t have brilliant characters and great plot then you’re not telling your story in the best way possible.
Back to the Future will always have a special place in my heart, and I love that I have been able to dedicate today’s post to celebrating something that quite genuinely means so much to me. I have quite a lot to say about the films as well, and I will write reviews about them in the near future, but today I didn’t want to be so clinical about something so brilliant, I wanted to share a piece of my heart and it’s very rare what you have a specific time that you can do that with so much meaning.