Typed this up for the 25th Anniversary of Back To The The Future over on The Movie Bit
25 years ago, one of the few way’s I could get to a cinema was by crying. Sure, I was brought to the cinema on a regular basis, but as a 9 year old, it was when it suited my parents, not me. So that’s where the tears came in. Like a spoilt brat, with no shame, I would whinge and moan until, normally, my Dad would give in and drag me off to the cinema. And that’s how I got to experience Back To The Future all those years ago. I’ve since experienced that time travelling epic a million times over and haven’t needed any tears since.
The first thing I remember being blown away by was the opening. Doc Brown’s humble abode with it’s crazy and demented alarm / toast / Einstein feeding gadgets. At the time, I do remember wanting to construct something similar, but having the engineering skills of a dead chimp it was never going to happen. Thoughts of engineering feats quickly transpired to “OMG, I want that car” when the DeLorean made it’s first appearance on screen. Ok, maybe I didn’t say “OMG” but you get the drift. It was there and then I popped my cherry for gull wing doors and DeLorean’s. Why didn’t our family car have those doors, and could we buy them and put them on? And then, my mind melted. The idea of flux capacitors never entered my head, all I wanted to know was would our car go back in time if it went over 88 mph. It’s funny how little things stick in your head as a kid and remain well and truly lodged there. And one of those things was time travel is possible at 88 mph. Ok, there was no trip computer in the car we had and no where to punch in what year you wanted to go, but for all I knew it could have been in the radio. That said, the car we had at the time would have also left flaming tire marks at 88mph an hour, but not for the time travelling reason you’d think.
I do always recall questioning why the hell did they go back in time. Sure, Doc Brown would have lived through those era’s, why not go forward in time instead. So I wasn’t completely enamoured with the fact, as a kid, of going back in time. I would have much preferred to be watching a movie taking place well in the future. And even though that would come at a later stage in the sequel, as a 9 year old, that was the one negative thing hanging over me, not that it mattered as I was still awe struck at what was taking place before my eyes.
Back To The Future, and this might sound sad to some of you, was a very influential movie on yours truly. I convinced myself I looked like Marty McFly as I had a similar hairdo at the time. I grew an affection that I still have today, to gilets or as my mother would call them, sleeveless jackets. Granted, my wife would send me back in time If I wore one. That said, I’ve been eyeing one up for the last few weeks, so maybe she’ll just have to deal with it. And then, there was the skateboarding phase. Thoughts of hanging onto to the back of cars entered my mind as I decided the next xmas pressie should be a skateboard. But that came to a grinding halt when a friend of mine had one and of course I had to have a go. And when your a kid, if you don’t get it right the first time, then that’s that, well for me anyway. Having zero balance my thoughts of hitching a ride to school soon exited my mind.
Christ, I get chills thinking about the whole thing now. Writing this has certainly stirred up a few emotions.
A few years ago, I got the opportunity to interview Tom Wilson, the actor who played Biff, and having Tom dress me down as Biff was possibly one of the greatest little personal moments I’ve had on radio. At the time, being useless at archiving material, I fear it’s lost to time, but it will live on forever in my memory. One of life’s simple little pleasures. And speaking of simple little pleasures, something else I’ve done, which in one way was pretty stupid, but I drifted over the speed limit to 88 mph with Alan Silvestri’s theme blaring. I remember at the time, thinking, I’m only a few miles over the limit I’ll get away with it or I’ll get nailed and get some penalty points and a fine. Fortunately I didn’t get any fines etc. and nobody got hurt. I also remember thinking where were the sparks and flames. But to be honest, what I really wished was to do it in a car park.
Back To The Future is an incredibly special film to me. It is full of heartfelt memories and has provided much inspiration and influences. It was a truly magical experience for a young kid, and even now, as a Husband and a Dad, it remains as magical as the first day I laid eyes on Marty McFly going back to 1955. And that’s the magic of cinema. I knew in my own, young, heart and soul that time travel wasn’t possible, but secretly I wished it was and lurking in the back of my mind, there was always a glimmer of hope that it might be possible. And you know what, there’s still a big part of me that secretly believes, with the right tools, a dodgy ebay bought flux-capacitor and a shopping center car park, that it is all possible! Happy 25th Anniversary BTTF!