Back To The Future
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Back to the Future I, II, III

In Part I, eccentric scientist Doc Emmett L Brown is conducting a Time Travel Experiment when 17-year-old Marty McFly is accidentally sent back in time to 1955 in a time machine built from a De Lorean. Upon arriving in 1955, he inadvertently causes his mother to fall for him, rather than his father. To make matters worse, Marty did not bring back any extra plutonium to power the time machine, so he must find the 1955 version of Doc Brown to help him out. Not only is his own existence in danger but he also runs the risk of being trapped in 1955 if he cannot harness a bolt of lightning that is known to strike the clock tower.

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The Script

Back to the Future I

In Part I, eccentric scientist Doc Emmett L Brown is conducting a Time Travel Experiment when 17-year-old Marty McFly is accidentally sent back in time to 1955 in a time machine built from a De Lorean. Upon arriving in 1955, he inadvertently causes his mother to fall for him, rather than his father. To make matters worse, Marty did not bring back any extra plutonium to power the time machine, so he must find the 1955 version of Doc Brown to help him out. Not only is his own existence in danger (Marty must get his parents together or he will never be born) but he also runs the risk of being trapped in 1955 if he cannot harness a bolt of lightning that is known to strike the clock tower.

Back to the Future Part II

In Part II, Doc Brown travels with Marty to the year 2015, where he has discovered Marty's family is in ruins. Marty buys a sports almanac containing the outcomes of decades' worth of sporting events. However, Doc catches him and throws the almanac in the trash, where the aged Biff Tannen finds it. While Marty and Doc are at Marty's future house, Biff steals the DeLorean and gives the book to himself at some point in the past. When Doc and Marty return to 1985, they find that Biff has used the almanac's knowledge for financial gain, which allows him to get away with the murder of George McFly and later marry Marty's mother. Marty learns that Biff was given the book by an old man in 1955, so he and Doc go back to that date in order to steal the almanac from Biff before he can use it to destroy their lives. They accomplish this in a complex fashion, often crossing their own past-selves' paths. When the duo are about to travel back to 1985, a lightning bolt strikes the DeLorean and scrambles the time circuits, sending Doc back to 1885 and leaving Marty stranded in 1955.

Back to the Future Part III

After finding out that Doc Brown is trapped in 1885, Marty sets out to find the 1955 Doc to help him fix the DeLorean (which has been waiting for him in a mineshaft for 70 years) and restore it to working order. Learning that Doc dies shortly after his arrival in 1885, Marty travels back in time to save Doc and bring him back to the future. Unfortunately, Marty rips a hole in the fuel line, rendering the DeLorean immobile. Furthermore, Doc falls in love with schoolteacher Clara Clayton, and considers staying in 1885. Marty must convince Doc to come back with him and find a way to get back to his time before it's too late.


A hallmark of the Back to the Future trilogy and a contributor to its popularity is its use of commonalities: running gags, similar events, catch phrases, and parallel situations that recur in the different time frames from film to film. Note that, due to simultaneous productions of Part II and Part III, they have the most commonalities.
The trilogy is particularly unique amongst films in that, due to the subject matter (time travel), it has a perfectly logical reason to revisit scenes and events from different perspectives. For example, in Back to the Future Part II, we are able to witness the scene of George McFly punching out Biff for the first time from the point of view of a different Marty. We are also able to re-attend the high school dance where Marty from the first film plays "Johnny B. Goode" on stage while Marty from Part II climbs overhead in the stage rigging. While this works as a clever joke, it can also be compared to the idea of seeing scenes and shots from different angles, common today with DVD technology but virtually unheard of in the late 1980s. This storytelling technique has become much more common today, with the same event being revisited from different points of view (the films of Alejandro González Iñárritu are a prime example), but Back to the Future stands out as truly unique in that this same technique is applied to a single character's point of view at any given time.
Back to the Future Part II was also one of the first movies that show Michael J. Fox playing three different characters who are on screen at the same time. Other movies that involve twins or clones (like in Multiplicity or The Nutty Professor, for example) have since expanded on this idea.

Relevant notes

• The movie makes use of several oxymorons and contradictions (or pairing of opposites), including in the title itself and in the name of the city, Hill Valley. Likewise, when the time machine travels through time, it always leaves fire trails where its tires would have been; however, when it appears in the destination time, it is "damn cold" according to Doc Brown and frost is visible on the surface of the vehicle. Additionally, the term "flux capacitor" can be seen as an oxymoron.
• Three sonic booms are always heard when the DeLorean appears in the destination time. After each trip, the delay between the three sonic booms becomes larger.
• In Part II, Old Biff steals the time machine and goes back in time to give "'50s Biff" the book. Old Biff then returns to the future to return the machine. However, the Doc says that if they go into the future from the altered past (1985A) it will be the future of 1985A (2015A), not the normal 1985. By this, Old Biff should have arrived in 2015A, when Biff was rich, and not the normal 2015. Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis explain in the BTTF FAQ that their intention was that Old Biff did return to 2015A, because the original 2015 transformed into 2015A around Marty and Doc as they were carrying Jennifer back to the DeLorean. A deleted scene shows Old Biff vanishing immediately upon arriving back to the future, and it is explained by Gale and Zemeckis that Lorraine must have shot Biff sometime between 1985 and 2015 (the FAQ suggests a date of 1996, while Gale suggests a date of 1991 in the DVD commentary for this deleted scene) after getting tired of their marriage, resulting in old Biff's lack of existence from the future Hill Valley. This explanation, however, might result in a time paradox (how could Old Biff have traveled back if he never existed?). Then again, due to the fuzzy and complex nature of the "ripple effect" in the movies, it might not cause a paradox at all.

Back To The Future Gag Reel:


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• In Part II, when 1985 Jennifer comes face to face with 2015 Jennifer, they both pass out from the shock of seeing their former/future self, however 2015 Biff meets 1955 Biff to give him the book without incident. Zemeckis and Gale also address this issue in the BTTF FAQ, explaining that "Jennifer definitely realizes she is seeing herself 30 years older and that puts her into shock. Old Biff, however, is advanced enough in age that young Biff has no idea who he really is -- he thinks it's just 'some old codger with a cane.'"
• There are actually at least three separate "copies" of the DeLorean time machine in existence at the same time on November 12, 1955. One of them is the machine that Marty originally takes back to 1955 in Part I. The second is the one that Biff takes back to 1955 in Part II to give the sports almanac to himself. The third is the DeLorean that Marty and Doc take to 1955 in Part II to stop Biff from giving the almanac to himself. A possible fourth copy of the time machine is the DeLorean that Doc hides in the old mine to send to Marty in Part III, although based on the way the "ripple effect" is shown to work in the movies, this one would probably not have appeared in the mine until after Doc was sent back to 1885 by the lightning strike.
• In several scenes, Biff Tannen is shown to have a confused understanding of cliches. For example, in Part II, the 1955 Biff says that his rejection by Lorraine is "as funny as screen doors on a battleship" whereas the correct phrase would be "as funny as a screen door on a submarine" (Marty mutters under his breath "Screen door on a submarine, ya dork") This extends to the non-canonical Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios where he tries to steal a time machine and trips the guards with marbles saying, "Have a nice trip, see you next winter!" whereas the correct phrase would be "See you next fall!" In parts I and II, he says to someone "now make like a tree and get outta here!", which in Part II, his older self slaps him and corrects him to say "make like a tree and leave." Biff's ancestor "Mad Dog" Tannen is shown to have this same tendency.For example, In the scene where he and his gang try to murder Doc Brown at the town dance, Buford says "I'll hunt you and shoot you down and shoot you like a duck." Immedately one of his men correct him by saying "It's dog Buford, hunt him down and shoot him like a dog"
• Biff (young or old) is frequently shown to use the pejorative phrase "Butthead." As seen in the Back to the Future: The Animated Series, his ancestors and descendants also use the term, most notably Tannen's great grandfather, a Confederate military officer from the Civil War, who calls his enemies "buttocks brains" but changes it to "butthead" after being corrected by one of Doc Brown's sons.
• In part two it's mentioned that Biff lives at 1809 Mason Street. 1809 was the year Albert Pike was born. Albert Pike is the only Confederate military officer from the Civil War to be honored with a statue in Washington, D.C. - he was also a Mason.
• It is a common misconception that Mayor Red Thomas of 1955 and Red the Bum of 1985 were meant to be the same character. According to Bob Gale's commentary on the Back to the Future DVD set, the name of the bum was ad-libbed by Michael J. Fox. Gale also commented that the photo of the mayor in 1955 on the side of the campaign van was that of set decorator Hal Gausman, whereas the bum was played by George "Buck" Flower.
• Throughout the trilogy (and despite Jennifer's claim that Doc "always" says it), Doc never actually says the quote, "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything," onscreen. The line was only used in Part I; twice by Marty and once by George.
• After Marty arrives in 1885 in Part III, the DeLorean is hit by an arrow which ruptures the fuel line, causing all the gasoline to leak out. Many fans wonder why Marty did not simply siphon the gas from the other version of the car - the one which Doc had buried there (and which Marty unearthed in 1955 and used to travel to 1885). In the BTTF FAQ Gale and Zemeckis suggest two separate answers. Firstly, all the fluids must be drained out of a car before storage for extended periods of time, so Doc would have done so before burying it in the mine. Secondly, Doc would not have dared risk damaging the car in the mine by uncovering it again, since Marty had uncovered it in 1955 and used it to get back to 1885, so any damage to it in 1885 after Marty had already arrived could create a paradox.

Recurring gags

These are some of the things that happen in nearly the same way in each of the films:

• Marty waking up on a bed after being knocked unconscious by something (car in pt.1, one of Biff's cohorts in pt.2, and a fence board in pt.3) saying "Mom? Mom is that you?" Some one says "There there, you've been asleep for (9 hours in pt.1, 2 hours in pt.2, and 6 hours in pt.3)" then they say something that makes Marty jump up ("in 1955" in pt.1, "on the 27th floor" in pt.2, "McFly farm" in pt.3). Marty stammers saying "You're". Then he uses a pseudonym to hide his true identity (Calvin Klein in pt.1 and Clint Eastwood in pt.3)from (17 year old mom in pt.1, mom in 1985A in pt.2, and his great-great-grandmother Maggie in pt.3). In disguise in pt.1 he uses Darth Vader as an alias to scare his 50s father. After waking, he then goes to dinner with their family (his grandparents, uncles, and his mom in pt.1 and his great-great-grandparents and his great-grandfather, who was an infant at the time, in pt.3).
• In every single movie, either Biff Tannen (who crashes his 1946 Ford convertible into a truck in pt.1 and pt.2) or Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen (who simply falls into a cart) ends up in a pile of manure (supplied by "D. Jones Manure Hauling"). In pts.2 and 3 he emerges saying: "I hate manure!".
• Also in every movie the lines "This is heavy," from Marty and "Great Scott!" from Doc. At one point in Part III they both switch catchphrases when Doc explains to Marty that he could die tomorrow and Marty replies "Great Scott!" to which Doc replies "I know, this is heavy".
• One way or another, there's always a McFly in a cafe or bar with a Tannen relation walking in and saying "Hey, McFly!"
• Another catchphrase Biff says is "Hello? Is anybody home, McFly?" after knocking on their head. In part II, Old Biff uses a fist on the tip of his cane.
• the skateboard chase (Scooter in pt.1, Hoverboard in pt.2, and Marty being dragged by a horse in pt.3)
• The scene where lightning strikes the clock tower appears at the ends of pt 1 & 2 and at the beginning of pt 3.

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2/25/2009 6:48:34 AM

Trivia question #1: What is the address of Bifs house? (I think it's in the second movie)

Trivia question #2: What is Albert Pikes birthday?


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