An infrequently updated dumping ground for one culture junkie's thoughts on film and whatever else

Monday, June 15, 2009


You know, for as many times as I've watched the Back to the Future trilogy in my life, I've spent relatively little time thinking about it. Because these movies were a part of my life since I was very young, they were sort of imprinted on me before I was old enough to intellectualize them, which is kind of a shame considering that there's a lot of really fun, twisty, mind-bending stuff going on in the time travel plots, if you take the time to think about them.

This is all to say that I recently stumbled on to a blog, by circuitous googling that had absolutely nothing to do with Back to the Future, called Alternate 1985. It's a cool blog by some dude with well-written thoughts about various subjects. One of those subjects is Back to the Future, and Doc bless him, he likes to intellectualize the fuck out of it.

Much of the discussion of the films on his blog and in the comments section are of an explosively mind-blowing nature that I'm presently too tired to devote serious thought to. But one of his insights -- apparently first suggested in the pages of "some sci-fi magazine I remember seeing when I was a kid" -- is simple enough for me to understand it at 3:00 a.m., yet TOTALLY MIND-BLOWING. Behold:

"So Marty McFly goes back from 1985 to 1955 and changes the course of history such that, when he returns, his family is different (more confident, richer), Twin Pines is now Lone Pine or something, and Doc Brown wears bulletproof vests after ripping off terrorists. Right? But he remembers the original 1985, is from the original 1985. Even ignoring the problem that he's evidently exactly the Marty that his new family expects to find in their house that morning (why is he the only sibling unchanged by happier parents?), there's this problem: what about the Marty that he watches drive off in the time machine? That's the Marty who was raised by the actualized George and the satisfied Lorraine, the one who never had any reason to think that Biff had wrecked the family car, the one whose mom always liked his girlfriend and fully supported their going off to the lake for some good old-fashioned teenage sex. So what happens when he goes back to 1955, and what 1985 does he return to? Remember: whereas the Marty we know went back to 1955 knowing that his parents fell in love after Lorraine's father hit George with the car, this Marty knows that his parents fell in love after George rescued her from Biff at the Fish Under the Sea dance or whatever it was called; will he push George out of the way of the car?—and if so, will he do what our Marty did to try to get his parents together? Because if not, no way is George going to punch out Biff. And wouldn't that mean that the 1985 that Marty comes back to will be rather a lot like the one our Marty left? Back to the Future Part II is the one that specifically concerns itself with an alternate 1985, but because no unbroken circle can be formed, even the first movie seems to imply a potentially infinite series of alternate 1985s, or at least a kind of eternal oscillation."


And of course, the REALLY mind-bending shit happens in Part II. The above refers to the otherwise relatively non-mind-bending first film.

I love this shit.

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