Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Back to the Future (1985)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Back to the Future (1985)

In director Robert Zemeckis' witty, blockbuster science fiction adventure comedy/fantasy film about a time-traveling teenager who had the opportunity to re-create and transform his parents - the highest-grossing film of its year:

  • in the small town (fictional) of Hill Valley, CA, clean-cut, skateboarding teen "Marty" Seamus McFly (Michael J. Fox), who aspired to play guitar in a R& R band, lived with his hapless middle-class parents: nerdy, cowardly, unhappy and weak-willed George McFly (Crispin Glover) who was bullied and tormented at work by his boss Bill Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson), and his alcoholic, apathetic and depressed mother Lorraine Baines/McFly Lea Thompson)
  • Marty's surrogate father figure, the madly-eccentric, wild-eyed, crackpot scientist Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd), conducted his first testing of his modified time-travel car at Twin Pines Mall in the early morning hours of October 26, 1985, with a travel destination dated November 5, 1955
  • the frizzy-haired Doc unveiled his time machine invention to Marty - it was a silver DeLorean car (with a "flux capacitor"), powered up to 1.21 gigawatts of electricity with an energy source of plutonium (that had been stolen from Libyan terrorists)
  • the two witnessed Doc's dog Einstein's short one-minute time-travel trip into the future ("temporal displacement") in the parking lot (at 88 mph), with Doc's ecstatic reaction
  • when the angry Libyan terrorists approached in a van, they shot and lethally-wounded Doc, but Marty was able to escape in the DeLorean - arriving 30 years earlier in 1955
  • in a mid-50s diner, Marty witnessed loutish bully Biff and his gang harrassing his future father, George; later, Marty tripped Biff and punched him in the face in the diner - and then fled; he created a makeshift skateboard ("It's a board with wheels") - not yet invented - from a little boy's scooter and evaded the group chasing him on foot and in their car by hanging onto the back of a pickup truck; his actions had unintended consequences - his future mother, teenaged Lorraine Baines, was falling in love with him ("He's an absolute dream")
  • without plutonium to return to the future, Marty met with a younger version of Doc, who advised him that the only available powerful energy source would be a bolt of lightning; Marty showed Doc a flyer from the future that reported an upcoming lightning strike that shattered the town's courthouse clock-tower
  • still stuck in the year 1955, Marty attended his teenaged parents' 1955 "Enchantment Under the Sea" prom night dance, where he attempted to encourage a romance between his future father and mother George and Lorraine (otherwise he would cease to exist in the 1980s); Marty played lead guitar and sang the 1950's rock 'n' roll song Johnny B. Goode [originally recorded by Chuck Berry in 1958] when the lead musician was put out of commission; he became carried away during his performance, strutted 1980's heavy metal guitar riffs, strummed behind his head, skidded on the floor with his knees and knocked over an amplifier; at the end when he remembered belatedly that he was playing to a 1950s audience, he told the stunned, blankly-staring prom-goers: "I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it!"
  • to help Marty return "back to the future" of 1985, the film's conclusion converged at the courthouse-town hall's tower (with a clock face); "Doc" Brown dangled from the clock face while attempting to reconnect the wires so that a bolt of electricity from a lightning strike would flow into the flux capacitor of the speedy DeLorean (that had to be traveling 80 mph to make the time leap) occupied by Marty
Doc Dangling From Town's Clock Face

Doc's Workshop (Film's Opening Sequence)

Courthouse Town Clock

Connecting the Electricity From the Lightning Strike to the Flux Capacitor

[Note: the sequence paid obvious homage to the similar scene in Harold Lloyd's Safety Last (1923). Many did not notice the foreshadowing of the scene, in the film's opening, during a panning view of Doc's Workshop, when there was a quick snapshot of a straw-hatted man holding onto the minute-hand of an AXIS clock-timepiece reading 7:53]

  • Marty successfully returned to 1985 (ten minutes before his earlier departure), and "Doc" was saved from death in the Libyan terrorist attack by taking Marty's future advice by wearing a precautionary bullet-proof vest to protect him; after Marty was returned home, "Doc" took off to the future year of 2015, thirty years into the future
  • Marty realized that the present year of 1985 had now been drastically altered and transformed - Marty's parents (and his siblings) were now happy, physically in great shape and productively employed, and Biff had been demoted and served as George's valet
  • in the twist ending, "Doc" Brown suddenly returned to 1985 Hill Valley from the future year of 2015 in his silver DeLorean time machine vehicle, shouting: "Marty! You've gotta come back with me!...Back to the future!" Marty and his pretty girlfriend Jennifer Parker (Claudia Wells) got into the car, when "Doc" told them of his worries about their future children: "No, no, no, no, no, Marty. Both you and Jennifer turn out fine. It's your kids, Marty! Something has gotta be done about your kids!"
  • as "Doc" squealed out of the driveway to take off, Marty noted: "Hey, Doc. We better back up. We don't have enough road to get up to 88." Doc smugly replied with a famous line: "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!"; the DeLorean unexpectedly levitated into the air, then zoomed down the street, turned, and flew directly into the camera

"Doc" Testing the Time-Travel DeLorean at Twin Pines Mall

In 1955: Biff Bullying George (Crispin Glover)

Marty's Skateboard Escape

Marty (from the mid-1980s) Playing Guitar at His Teenaged Parents' 1955 Prom

Doc: "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!"

The Flying DeLorean


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