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Back to the Future

Meet Marty McFly. He's broken the time barrier. Busted his parents' first date. And, maybe, botched his chances of ever being born. 

Year: 1985 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Robert Zemeckis 
Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson  
An image from Back to the Future

Has there ever been a more successful and satisfying achievement, at least in the Hollywood production line? Everything about Back to the Future works just as well as it did upon release: the humour of Marty McFly exploring a world he doesn’t recognise, and the heart-in-the-mouth tension when he might get stuck there forever.

It covers the two classic bases by being a wish-fulfilment buddy movie. After a chance encounter with eccentric scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), Marty - a 1980s teenager, bored of suburban existence - accidentally activates an experimental time machine to blast back 30 years prior. After bumping into the younger versions of his parents, a terrifying possibility emerges; if their circumstances are changed, his existence may hang in the balance. But the film always steers towards entertaining rather than existential, with a third-act climax that will have you cheering.

Max King


Marty Mcfly (Michael J Fox) travels back in time, disrupts the possibility of himself ever existing and has to get his parents to fall in love. The only problem is that his mum is in love with him.

First things first: you don't need to be Einstein (the scientist, not Doc Brown's dog) to figure out the time travel in BTTF is rubbish, but lets face it, so is Michael J Fox's acting and no one complains about that. (Actually they do, so that kind of spoils the point.)

BTTF is the 80's film par excellence: appalling plot, even worse hair, dodgy Huey Lewis and the News songs (are the lyrics to the Power of Love really 'don't need no credit card to arrive by train'? or am I mad?) Yet it was a huge hit (spawning two sequels that were shot back to back they were so sure they would be hits). Why? Simply because it is so entertaining. Most 80's films need to be watched through a very thick veil of nostalgia (or alcohol) to blank out the sheer awfulness of them, but here is one that is still enjoyable if you have never seen it. Director Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) pulls together plot, characters and in gags (Star Wars, Ronald Reagan and Calvin Klein all get a mention) to produce a slick, enjoyable film. Although Michael J Fox is the 'star' it is Christopher Lloyd (as the mad scientist who sends Marty back in time) and Crispin Glover (as Marty's dad) who keep our attention. This is not one of the greatest films ever made. Trying to think of serious things to say about it is almost impossible. One could talk about reversed Oedipal triangles, or the film as a allegory for America in the 80's (the threat of the middle east makes them regress into nostalgia for the 50's), but that would be pushing it. This is an entertaining film, and a bit of all our past. When I was 10 I took up skateboarding because of this film. It's that important. You never know, after this we may see hundreds of skateboarders around campus. We can only hope so, because I could use a laugh.

Malcolm Cook

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Screenings of this film:

1986/1987 Autumn Term (35mm)
1986/1987 Autumn Term (35mm)
1986/1987 Autumn Term (35mm)
1986/1987 Autumn Term (35mm)
1987/1988 Summer Term (16mm)
1990/1991 Spring Term (35mm)
1996/1997 Spring Term (35mm)
2022/2023 Autumn Term (digital)
2022/2023 Autumn Term (digital)