Marty McFly's Journey In Back to the Future: Movie Analysis Paper

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The year is 1985. Marty McFly, a teenage high school student, stopped by Dr. Emmett Brown’s house to shred some guitar on an overpowered amplifier. But, Marty’s life is anything but perfect. His father, George, is bullied by Biff and his mother, Lorraine is a lush alcoholic. One day he receives a message from Doc that he needs his help at Twin Pines Mall at 1:15 AM wher Doc unveils a time traveling DeLorean. Doc demonstrates that it can travel through time when it precisely hits 88 MPH. Then, Doc was gunned down by Libians, Marty makes an attempt to flee from them in the leaping DeLorean. But, Marty sends himself back to 1955. He meets both of his parents as teenagers and accidentally interrupts their first meeting. Marty finds a 30 year younger version of Doc Brown and they come up with a way to get Marty’s parents back together and ultimately get Marty Back to the Future.

The opening sequence in this Sci-Fi classic told me everything I needed to know about the McFly family and Biff, the movies main characters. Unfortunately, he’s known for coming from a family of slackers. His dad is a quiet insecure nerd, his mom is an alcoholic, his brother is a long term fast food employee, his sister is a fulsome romantic, his uncle is nicknamed JailBird Joey, and Biff is a bully. Marty, the mentor, seemed to have many desirable qualities: play the guitar, skateboard, have a girlfriend, have an aspiring role model, and drive sports cars but he comes off as an irresponsible teenager that wants to go down in the history books. Marty has to be careful when communicating in the past and has to analyze what dialect he using to make sure his receivers don’t find out that he is indeed from the future. His active listening skills play a key role in how he decodes conversations and smartly responds with advice on how his family can improve in the past to make their future more enjoyable. Marty’s assertive communication enables him to express his own needs while also considering the needs of other characters. Marty somehow figures out what to do by the skin of his teeth with each and every encounter. Like father, like son? Marty has very similar traits as his father, George. We first see George as a pushover when confronted by Biff in 1985 but 1955 sheds some light on how he came to be that way. George, the protagonist, is a frightened teenager peeping tom that tends to keep to himself. Marty tries to bring out the passion he has for his 1985 girlfriend, Jennifer, in his younger father for his younger mother, Lorraine. But George’s passive communication fails to allow him to communicate his inner feelings. Marty attempts to breakdown what his father is known for before he is known for it. Unfortunately, while attempting to show Lorraine’s beauty to George, Lorainne gets the hots for Marty. Lorainne daydreams in 1985 on how her father struck George with his car and that it was meant for them to be together. But when Marty traveled back 30 years it was him that took place of George putting Marty in an awkward situation with his younger mother. Lorainne, the attractor, is a pretty high school teen that wants a dreamboat to take he to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. Her aggressive communication with Marty is what he’s trying to channel with George. But those desirable qualities only push George father away from Marty end goal. It would be too simple for George to get with Lorainne if they were the only two in the picture. That’s where Biff, the nemesis, comes into the picture. Biff is a typical high school bully. He has a posse of like minded bullies that feed off of those that are unable to stand up for themselves. Biff has already marked George as one of his prey in 1955 when Marty shows up. Marty happens to get in the way of some altercations that paint that target on both his and Georges backs. Biffs overly aggressive communication helps him break down those he aims to get the best of. This is a lot for Marty to deal with so he needs to work with someone that understands where his coming from and can help him get back to the future. Who better than the younger version of the man that got him there in the first place. Doctor Emmett Brown, the link, is the only character that Marty can talk to about both the past and the future. As smart as Doc is he tells Marty not to tell him too much about the future or the life he goes back to may be unrecognizable. Doc is a beloved mentor to Marty. He tends to be passive aggressive in the sense that he has a hard time conveying years of knowledge to a teenager but is able to break it down in a way Marty is able to understand.

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Not only does Marty go back in time but he goes back to the exact moments when his parents first met. The culture shock alone has to be hard to cope with as Marty wraps his head around what’s going on. He walks down main street in shock that he is indeed in the past. Marty is utterly shocked as he takes a stroll down main street to see the theater, old cars passing by, gas station attendants service a car and sees the clocktower still in one piece. Even after picking up a 1955 dated newspaper he thought he was in a dream. George and Lorainne are still developing their values as Marty is right beside them seeing how it all started. George is told that if he continues to let bullies take advantage of him that it’ll happen his whole life. Marty was able to see first hand an encounter that George could’ve stepped up but cowered into what he knows his father to be in the future. Dialects and idiolects that characters are using may be hard for him to grasp since he’s used to language 30 years in the future. He has to be careful what he says since the past was very different. Marty says that he has two tvs and has already seen the new Jackie Gleeson show on a rerun, things that weren’t around in 1955. All of these verbal messages were tough for Marty as a communicator and a receiver so he didn’t give away that he’s from the future. He had a complex encoding and decoding process to analyze before speaking. The nonverbal cues he recieved may have been overlooked at first since he was still soaking in the fact he was in the past. Lorainne immediately showed immediacy behaviors to Marty from the time he was in bed recovering to when she pulled out the chair next to her at the table. That’s the same approach she had to George but Marty was the one hit with her father’s car. Lorraine’s eye contact and body expressions heavily suggested her feelings towards Marty. Her touch and breach of personal space was a bit much for Marty since that was from his younger mother. He quickly knew he had to defer her attention from himself to George and let the natural course unfold to what he knows, periodically helping where he can. Marty even picks up on Lorainne’s olfactory cues at the high school dance as she attempted to lure him in with her overall appearance. Marty was skating on thin ice since he had to be highly observant on his verbal and nonverbal communication. Since his future self was with his younger family he naturally was part of their lives and developed relationships with them. Trying to help their lives down a very direct path while trying not to be too memorable. He built that interpersonal trust with his father in 1985 but had to decode their communications to a man not yet fully developed. Marty smartly took himself out of sustaining relationships he started with everyone except Doc Brown. That was part of the risk in telling Doc but the same reason Doc stopped him from exposing too much in the future. This allowed the timeline to unfold with a few suggested upgrades to his parents 1985 lives. In 1985 Marty naturally went through many developmental stages of interpersonal communication. It was when he was placed in a predicament, 1955, that he carefully went through the appropriate processes to convey certain messages and build relationships based on what he wanted the future to look like.

Back to the Future is a highly relatable movie. It starts in a very common place, which is high school. Like Marty, I tried out for a few school auditions to get myself out there. He wanted to go down in the history books for shredding on the guitar and I wanted to play professional soccer. Also, I wanted to do what I could to make a better life for myself outside of where I grew up. We’ve all had late night outings with friends and some of mine even took place in large parking lots, similar to the Twin Pines Mall one. Thankfully nobody had possession of nuclear grade hazardous material and people chasing after us to get it. I actually got certified to be a military hazardous material shipper so seeing the hazard class on the box in Doc Brown’s house is all too familiar. A popular question I’ve heard has been if you could go back in the future what would you tell yourself or others in your family. Back to the Future puts Marty back in time to live that very question. It’s interesting to see how he approaches talking to people and interjecting himself into characters lives and I sit back to wonder what I would do differently. Imagine going back in time and releasing a classic song like Johnny B Goode years before it was even a thought in Chuck Berry’s head. This movie allows my imagination to go on and on with what I would do with a trip back to the past.

Movie critic reviews can make or break a movie. There are two scores when a movie is released that is monitored by the movie goers. The critic score and the audience score. A beautiful thing about movies is that a majority of them are open to interpretation. Two people could have complete opposite opinions on a movie. I watch a decent amount of movies and I never look at the reviews before I see a movie. I like to have a clear mind and I don’t want that to be altered from one someone had to write down on a website. Some people highly value those reviews because they are from respected critics. I’ll read what they have to say once I decode the movie for myself. Like all movies, Back to the Future has good and bad reviews. The critics on Metascore gave it a 87 out of 100 and the audience gave it a 9.0 out of 10.0. Critics scores range from a perfect 100 to a 40. Mark Monahan gave it a 100 and wrote “Entertainment of the purest kind, a picture so tightly plotted, writtily scripted and pacily directed that it’s impossible not to dive in head-first and be swept gleefully along.” While Sheila Benson gave it a 40 and wrote “It’s big, cartoonish and empty, with an interesting premise that is underdeveloped and overproduced.” If I read that prior to watching it for the first time I would go into it not expecting much out of it. The audience scores range from 10 to 2, with only 2 out of 690 being below 7 on Metacritic. VidyaBum rated it a 10 and said “10/10 not because of utmost quality or incredible strengths but for an all-around flawless film.” While Tyranian said “Starts well and has some good acting and humour but the time-travel premise is wasted big time” and gave it a 5. I enjoy watching a movie with an open mind that isn’t altered by others reviewers.

Back to the Future starts in very relatable environment which automatically places me into the setting. This allows me to ease into the movie and get that nostalgic feeling right away. Relating is a good angle to get me hooked into a movie. I often imagine myself being the main character and how I would respond to what’s going on. Every scene brings more and more to the table that keeps me on the edge of my seat for the entire movie. Going back to the past and trying to get Back to the Future is a very interesting plot. There’s an excellent mix of fantasy, humor and drama. It allows my imagination to wonder in this teenager stuck fantasy. This is one of my favorite movies of all time and is appreciated by many moviegoers.


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