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Back to the Future 1985

By anonymous editor  1 year, 11 months ago

Back to the futurePhoto: Back to the future

Final Film Critique Back to the Future 1985


Some of the reason why Back to the Future film is widely read across the world is the ability of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale to use both the narrative elements and the cinematic techniques. The film is relevant since it since it argues that teenagers can go back to the time when their parents were adolescents and correct them at a point when they needed help the most. The study will analyze this film through the lens of the formalist theory. The formalist approach is the most appropriate since it considers the structural purpose of a particular text in literary criticism. By focusing on the genre, forms, disclosure, and modes in the film, the theory will help to prove that “Back to the Future 1985” is both entertaining and educative for all teenagers as well as the adults. The study will also focus on the different knowledge gained through the course that has improved my capabilities of film analysis. At the end of the text, the study will provide an explanation of the aspects the author finds attractive in the film.

Contextual Information 

When discussing the contextual information of the film, the author will consider aspects such as the type of film, director, title, and genre among others. The director of “Back to the Future 1985” is Robert Zemeckis. He is responsible for controlling both the artistic and dramatic aspects as well as visualization of the script while guiding the actors towards the achievement of the themes of the film. It is also the responsibility of the director to identify the actors, the production design, and creative components of filmmaking. Dean Cundey is the cinematographer of the film. He is the person in charge of the actual shooting. The primary responsibility is to oversee and head the camera and lighting departments. The cinematographer also analyzes the script to create elaborate lighting setup and camerawork that strengthens the plot and provokes emotion.

The major actors/actress in the “Back to the Future 1985” includes; Marty McFly, Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown, Lorraine Baines-McFly, George McFly, Biff Tannen, Jennifer Parker, Mr. Strickland, and Dave McFly. Their general role is to show the different themes and discovery of new frontier. The blockbuster movie was released in 1985 “Back to the Future 1985” belongs to the fantasy or science fiction film genre. It uses extrasensory perception and time travel that considers both futuristic and past elements in the development of its plot. As a sci-fi, it gives an insight into the delivery of the imaginative gadgets and the iconic technology. Through the use of sci-fi, the contemporary generation can witness the expression of the sublime whether through exaggerated basis or apocalypse. This adventures and comedy film was released in 1985 and is suitable for general exhibition.


In discussing the plot or story of the film, the study will use the summary of the “Back to the Future 1985” and determine the different themes in the text. The film begins with Marty McFly, a boy with a dream of becoming a rock star, engages in troublesome activities while in school. The protagonist also dedicates most of his time to the girlfriend while the other with the family members. He also hangs around with Dr. Emmett Brown. The doctor convinced Marty into helping him test his invention of the time machine. The doctor used DeLorean and plutonium stolen from the Libyan nationalists. Unfortunately, the terrorists find the doctor and kill him while Marty escapes into 1955, the year which his parents met. Fuel is the propeller of the time machine thus leaving Marty stranded. He traces the teenage age of his father to the point where he meets his mother. In the process, Marty becomes the savior of his father by saving him from being hit. However, Marty himself is caught in the process.

When he regains consciousness, he finds himself in the room of his young mother and realizes that she loves him. He experiences challenges in making his mother and father fall in love again for creation of a future to relate. He continuously saves his mother from, a condition that causes her more attracted to him. It was the time when Marty had invited his mother for a dance that his parents first kissed. George proves his loyalty by defending her from Marty’s harassment in the car. He also stands up for himself and beats up Biff and defends Marty’s young mother. Marty goes back to 1985 where he finds his father a known author and Biff is one of his employees. His mother is sober, the brother has a well-established business, and the sister is dating. Even though the doctor leaves for the future, he returns to inform Marty and Jenifer on the need to solve a problem with their kids. In the long run, Marty, Jenifer, and the doc leave for the future to determine their problem (Kael, 2018).

The sequence and methods of how the events unfold in the film form the basis for the discussion on the comparison of the film’s story and plot. The story illustrates how events happen whereas the plot gives the sequence or order in which the events occur. In the “Back to the Future 1985” film, the story is relatively straightforward time travel. However, the plot is complex that flashes backward to the young Marty’s parents and the events in 1985 and runs in the reverse chronology for a more significant part of the film. The story only has one merit that is of importance to the audience since they want to know what happened next. For example, Jenifer, Marty, and Dr. Emmett Brown leave for the future, is a film’s story. A plot narrates the events and emphasizes on the falling on causality. For instance, Marty, Jenifer, and the doctor leave for the future to find out their problem is a plot. Even though there is the preservation of the time-sequence, there is still a sense of causality overshadowing it.

Aesthetic Choices

The Mise en scène elements in the “Back to the Future” are essential in helping the audience recognize the relationship between the past and the future applicable throughout the screenplay of the film. They help in setting the theme in the opening of the scene and assist the audience in appreciating the varied settings. It also gives an insight on how the story changes from 1985 to 1955. One of the significant scenes in the film is the meeting of Marty with the doctor in the parking bay of the shopping center. The colors used in the movie for the daytime scenes are mute and pastel compared to the stronger and powerful ones used during the night scenes in the future. The importance of the scene is evident in the darkness when the doctor’s white protective clothes stand out. The film also uses voiceovers and background music from different rock artists and other genres hence the application of the non-diegetic sound. It helps in the determination of the set of the scene. There is also evidence of the diegetic sounds in the film that matches the screenplay hence the emergence of synchronous sound. The composition of the frame may include the overall structure and placement of the characters. The primary focus of the shot is the windshield of the Delorean thus creating a smaller structure within the entire structure of the view of the camera. The film adapted the Halloween costumes for the screenplay.

The adoption of the selective use of other transitions, efficient editing, and the use of computer-generated imagery helps audience in understanding the tone or mood, the suggestion of the passage of time, and enhances the separation of parts of the story. The use of the motion-picture helps the audience in termination of the significant actions in the film. The continuous three-minute opener shot prowling through the film and in doctor’s home ensures that viewers have the necessary information in the shortest time possible. The use of hologram was futuristic. Through it, viewers can find humor in the quality of the hologram. The flying car also helps the audience visualize future innovations.

Social/Personal Impact

Even though the “Back to the Future” film events based on the future occurrences, it gives us an overview of the past. Majority of the comedy in the film dates back to the cultural dissonance between the period 1985 and 1955. It is the same period that Marty finds himself in the time machine of Dr. Brown, the mistaking of the DeLorean car for a spacecraft, and the astonishment on the skateboard invention by Marty (Ní Fhlainn, 2015). The current viewers of the film, between the years 1985 and 2018, experience the second type of cultural dissonance. The film plays a key role in the current pop culture landscape hence causing the audience to easily forget about the first entrenchment of the movie in 1985. The major concern is on the observations of the 2018 “Back to the Future” audience on the changes in the American culture since the year 1985. The jaunting into the future of McFly was a reflection of the continued thriving and prosperity of the American culture (Keller, 2015). There was increased optimism on the technological progress of the American society. The increased innovations in the community and the trends in the change could have a direct impact on the creation of the film. The purpose of the author was to show the audience the future capabilities and potential of the society.


There are so many things that I have learned from analyzing a film. For example, the use of the formalist theory has helped me in understanding the application of different techniques in the creation of meaning to the intended audience. The implication is that the audience will form a vivid picture in their minds based on the approach used. Through analysis of the realist approach, I was able to determine how the film may represent the real world. The contextual theory illustrates that the film is part of the broader context. Therefore, has improved and broaden my perceptions on issues through critiquing films. It has changed the way I view movies because I cannot watch films without analyzing the different aspects. Apart from the entertainment aspect, a movie will always have a deeper meaning. Thus, I have to look for the impact of the society on the production of the movie as well as the different ways in which the film affects the community. Analyzing these aspects such as the director, characters, and the plot among others increases my understanding and internalization of the author’s meaning and the main storyline. Understanding the film theory and criticism is essential in the determination of the genre of the film and the plot of the story. It also guides on how the events unfold.

Before the course, I only considered movies as a source of entertainment as opposed to educative hence no need for analyzing and determine its impact on the community and vice versa. The ideas have helped me realize that films are part of the broader context of the society hence they can either affect or be affected by it or both depending on the circumstances and the intended message of the director. This information has changed my perception of the relationship between the community and movies. Through the course, I have been able to develop film critical analysis skills to determine the inner meaning of the writer as well as the message the author wants the audience to know about the specific community referred to in the film.




Kael P. (2018, February 18). BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985) - Review by Pauline Kael. Retrieved from

Keller, J. (2015, October 21). The Real Reason Back to the Future Is One of the Greatest Film Franchises of All Time. Retrieved from

Ní Fhlainn, S. (2015). ‘There’s Something Very Familiar about All This’: Time Machines, Cultural Tangents, and Mastering Time in HG Wells’ The Time Machine and the Back to the Future trilogy. Adaptation9(2), 164-184.