Back to the Future

Back to the Future is my favourite movie of all time. But it's not easy to tell why. It just is. It always has been, ever since I first saw it in 1995, and I'm guessing it always will be. I can't honestly imagine a new movie replacing it at the peak of my personal top-10.

It's quite hard (be it impossible) to define Back to the Future. There's not enough techno babble to be called science fiction; there are brilliant chuckle-worthy moments, but it's not a comedy; there's action aplenty, but it's not an action movie. The script is layered, effective, touching and no one trick pony.

Michael J. Fox was every American girl's dream in 1985, mainly due to his starring role in the then-popular television series Family Ties. But Fox is so much more than just a cute face : he carries the movie like few others can, perfectly assisted by Christopher Lloyd. Lloyd, forever the grinning weirdo in movies like The Addams Family and Dennis The Menace, plays his career-defining role as the immensly huggable Doc Emmett L. Brown. Supporting players Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover are perfectly adequate as Marty's parents, whereas antagonist Biff could have easily been turned into a one-dimensional caricature in the hands of a lesser player than Tom Wilson.

It's refreshing to see a movie that doesn't desperately try to be hip or cool. Back to the Future honours the "it all starts with a good script"-adagium and succeeds across the board.
A fine cast, cunning cinematography, tight direction and perfect editing all contribute to a more than accomplished end result, with special mention to Alan Silvestri's rousing score.

The soundtrack finds quintessential 80's hit The Power of Love (by Huey Lewis and The News) accompagnied by a crappy Lindsay Buckingham song (no disrespect to Mr. Buckingham, this just isn't his best work) and some 50's classics by the fictional Marvin Berry and the Starlighters band. Back to the Future will always be remembered for Marty McFly's sublime interpretation of Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode, which was unreleased in 1955 - the time frame of the flick. “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet … but your kids are gonna love it!” Marty concludes.

The movie's biggest triumph is - ironically - its timelessness. Twenty-six years down the line, it's still as good as ever. The script is still fresh and the story is still charming. All details and touches are right on the money. Back to the Future is a veritable modern masterpiece.

Julian De Backer, 2 August 2011