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Revisiting Back to the Future

Last updated on: November 09, 2010 18:04 IST

A DVD cover of Back To The FutureWhat could be a big difference between Back to the Future, and a current big budget blockbuster?

The latter will surely have elaborate stunt scenes, high technology and kinetic speed.

But Back to the Future, whose 25th Anniversary Trilogy edition is out in a special Blu-Ray package, had strong characters in addition to impressive technology of its days.

'It's lots of things,' mused its star Michael Fox in an interview recently, ' and all credit is due to [writer-director] Bob Zemeckis and [writer-producer] Bob Gale, [executive producer] Steven [Spielberg] too, I guess. They stayed with the vision, and while it was big, it wasn't quite the same as the blockbusters you're referring to today.

He added: 'They would never show a character just walking across the street the way they showed Crispin Glover, and a lot of times, how a character walks informs us who he is as a person. That would be quick cut, boom to the next thing and boom to the next thing. I think there was a lot of attention paid to character development and character history and the richness of the back story.'

The film is extremely hilarious in the first segment with diminishing humour in the next two chapters. It  was founded on the lines: In 1985, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) invents time travel; in 1955, Marty McFly (Michael Fox) accidentally prevents his parents from meeting, putting his own existence at stake.

Director Robert Zemeckis (Romancing the Stone) had the biggest film of his career with the Back to the Future trilogy. Its tagline: What would it be like to meet your parents in their youth?

High schooler Marty McFly (Michael J Fox, during the height of his TV success, with Family Ties) is catapulted back to the '50s where he sees his parents in their teens, and accidentally changes the history of how Mom and Dad met.

'The film comes off as a Twilight Zone episode written by Preston Sturges,' mused critic and syndicated writer Doug Thomas recently. 'Filled with memorable effects and two wonderfully off-key, perfectly cast performances: Christopher Lloyd as the crazy scientist who builds the time machine (a DeLorean luxury car) and Crispin Glover as Marty's geeky dad.'

Critics and audiences didn't seem too happy with Back to the Future, Part II, but the film did solid business too. 'It's well worth a visit, though, just to appreciate the imagination that went into it, particularly in a finale that has Marty watching his own actions from the first film,' says critic and syndicated columnist Tom Keogh.

In the third film, the least appreciated of the three but quite enjoyable, Marty ends up in the Old West of 1885, trying to prevent the death of scientist Doc Brown at the hands of gunman Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen (Thomas F Wilson).

The 4-disc Blu-ray package which includes digital copies of all three movies has hours of extras and would make a great holiday gift. For the older generation, there is a great number of nostalgic thrills and fabulous insights into the making of the film. For the young viewers with an open mind, here is an example of old time kind of adventure which was classy and entertaining.

The best of the bonus features include Tales from the Future: 6-part retrospective documentary featuring all-new interviews with executive producer Steven Spielberg, director Robert Zemeckis, producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton and artists Michael J Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson.

The Blu-ray exclusives include, Storyboard Comparison: Compare key scenes in the movie with the original storyboards and Trivia Track which allows the viewers to get inside trivia and facts while they watch the movies.

A scene from Back To The FutureBonuses also include such features as outtakes, behind the scenes discussion, Q and A with Michael Fox  as well as with director Zemeckis and The Physics of Back to the Future discussing time travel concept.

Apart from 16 scenes from the cutting room accompanied with commentary from producer Bob Gale, there are hilarious outtakes, makeup tests and photo galleries.

Moviegoers will enjoy some of the revelations, especially how Crispin Glover's demands for a big paycheck for Back to the Future II, led to his role as McFly's father written out and how Eric Stoltz (Mask) came to be replaced by Fox after shooting nearly one third of the film.

Spielberg has taken the responsibility for the replacement.

'I had to make this horrific decision which was heartbreaking for everyone,' he says.

Anticipating the excitement for the Blu-ray package, Universal released a restored version of the trilogy for a limited run in more than 250 theaters in a handful of countries including America, Canada and the United Kingdom. It also held a launching party in New York making many of the talents associated with the films available for media interviews

On the David Letterman show, Fox recently complimented. Stoltz as a good actor who has had a great career, saying he thought they (Spielberg and company) just wanted someone who was an "idiot." 

Arthur J Pais in New York