- Series: BFI Film Classics
- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: British Film Institute; 2010 edition (August 17, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1844572935
- ISBN-13: 978-1844572939
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,056,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Back to the Future (BFI Film Classics) 2010th Edition
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The authors do an excellent job of bringing together a well researched look at a film that is loved the world over. Between talking about the films commentary on the 1950's teen culture and the nods to popular film culture at the time the film was made, they put together what is one of this year essential reads for any fan of film. Of all of the BFI film classics that I have read, this has been one of the best.' - Cine Talk
From the Back Cover
Back to the Future was the top-grossing film of 1985 and the eighth highest-grossing film of the 1980s. It was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Original Screenplay in 1986, and won the 1986 People's Choice Award for Favourite Motion Picture. Co-written and directed by Spielberg protégé Robert Zemeckis, it became a landmark of 'New New Hollywood' and has continued to grow in popularity, voted 20th in Empire magazine's 2006 readers' poll of the best films of all time. In 2007, the United States Library of Congress deemed Back to the Future to be 'culturally, historically or aesthetically' significant enough to be 'preserved for all time' in the National Film Registry. Other choices that year included such classics as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Now, Voyager (1942), Oklahoma! (1955) and 12 Angry Men (1957).
Andrew Shail and Robin Stoate's study of the film places it in the historical context of Reaganite America and the cinematic context of the 'New New Hollywood' and Zemeckis's film-making career. They discuss the film's treatment of time travel and its depiction of the potential and pitfalls of science and of atomic energy. Shail and Stoate consider Back to the Future's attitudes towards teen culture of the 1980s and the 1950s, seen in the film as a period in which traditional 'American' values and gender roles held sway to the benefit of family and community life, in contrast to the more troubled decade from which Marty McFly begins his time-travelling adventures.
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BACK TO THE FUTURE (the book, that is) starts off pretty strong, discussing the New, New Hollywood that came after the bad boys of the 1970s who took on the studio systems and gave us movies that broke the traditional Hollywood stereotypes. These were the movies with antiheroes and ambiguous endings. Director Robert Zemeckis was at the forefront of the `New New' movement, hitching his wagon to the ever-rising star of Steven Spielberg. The book gives us some good background about the story that eventually became Back To the Future, as well as Zemeckis' rather rocky road getting there.
We also get some excellent analysis regarding blending of genres (time travel sci-fi, teenage romance, summer blockbuster), 1950s teen culture as filtered through a 1980s lens, the changing perspectives of atomic power, and even, yes, the saucy incest undertones between Marty and his mom.
Unfortunately we readers also must sit through a rather patronizing lecture about the racist aspects of the movie, with a white boy really inventing Chuck Berry's rock-and-roll and the same white boy suggesting to the black kid at the soda fountain that he should become mayor. Because, well, we all know blacks just cannot run their own lives and need whites to do this for them, or so the theory goes.
Though the real chortler comes in its discussion of feminism that uses, get ready for it, Susan Faludi's BACKLASH as its paradigm. BACKLASH!!?? Dear Lord, does anyone take that junk seriously anymore? I checked the publication date for this BMI book: 2010!! Are you serious? That one of its authors, per the description on the back cover, is a male co-editor of Menstruation: A Cultural History, may make this more understandable. Male feminists never tire of self-emasculation in furtherance of demonstrating their enlightenment. Alas, the rest of us do.
Well, at least now you know. The bad with the good. Take it or leave it. Until next time . . .
The authors seem much more interested in engaging with "Back to the Future" as a science fiction text than as comedy. They do manage to raise some interesting points about the film's uniquely Reaganite spin on the teen film, with its idealized portrait of the Great Communicator's kind of 1950s, but they spend way too much time wrapped up in details about nuclear energy, atomic weapons proliferation, and the Strategic Defense Initiative to realize that this film is less interested in Star Wars the government program than it is in "Star Wars" the film. They also touch on the film's outrageously queasy Oedipal implications without ever truly delving into how these elements work in the film, or how Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale were able to get these details past the studio executives to get them into the film. Also, when the writers do try to get a little fun, as when they reference the absurd "Marvin Astley" reference to the film in "Family Guy," they simply quote the reference without discussing what makes it unique or interesting.
"Back to the Future" is a film beloved by many, and I know that last year's 30th anniversary of the film saw a spate of books relating to the film's production, trivia, and fan culture. Here's hoping those books, which I haven't read, give fans of the film* more of what they want than this scholarly but too-dutiful volume probably will.
* Though this is my first time reading the book, it's my second time buying it, as I purchased a copy back when the book first came out, as a gift for a woman I was dating whose favorite film this was. I don't know if she ever read it (we split up before we got to discuss it), but if she did, sorry. I hope it wasn't too boring for you.