Today is the day.
Sure, it’s a bit hollow to attach significance to a random day from a fictional film that came out nearly 30 years ago. But I’m also a fan of random strangers playing kids games that I can no longer play. Which is to say, I root for professional sports teams, so indulge me.
Late in 1989*, movie theaters across the world showed the beloved Marty McFly and Doc Brown warping to the unfathomably distant future of October 21, 2015. It seemed impossible to even think about what the world would be like that far away.
Even as a child of the 90’s, having seen the movies well after their theatrical runs, I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the year 2015. Flying cars? Hoverboards? Dust-repellent paper? Good heavens.
This is all prelude to the fact that I’ve recently finished reading Caseen Gaines’ We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy. The book came out in June of this year, marking the 30-year anniversary of the original, but I decided to wait to read it until something more significant came along. You know, like the date the actual characters travelled to, the date I’d never thought I’d see or, if I did see, couldn’t wait for.
What you get in reading We Don’t Need Roads is a narrative-styled history of the films, cobbled together from rounds and rounds of interviews done by the author. How much you learn is entirely dependent on what sort of a fan you are.
Me? I’m listening to Huey Lewis and The News as I type and my ideal plan for this evening is watching as much of all three films as I can when I get home. You can probably piece together that this reading was more of a victory lap as a fan than some sort of entirely revelatory experience.
That said, I won’t spoil them all. There are some really interesting nuggets in the book that I’d never heard about before. From the mundane and minute—the sneakers Marty wears in the original were actually a pair of Nikes that Michael J. Fox wore on his own one day—to the nearly fatal—the stunt in Part II where Griff’s crew goes crashing through the Courthouse Mall nearly killed one of the stuntwomen—there’s definitely something in there for fans of all kinds.
And, if you’re thinking—Hey! I’m a super fan! I’ve gone to the conventions and screenings and was a member of the original fan club, visitor to the original www.BTTF.com website… there’s nothing for me here. Well, you’re wrong.
Gaines’ decision to write the book, not as a list of facts or boringly-typical historical account, but instead as a narrative places the reader back in the 1980s. You learn about the difficulties in getting the movie made, the reasons various cast and crew weren’t asked back and the sometimes-harsh (softened by time) realities of how the movies were received upon release.
I’d love to go on and on about the movies and the book but sadly, I’ve got to go to work. And, considering that my Toyota Corolla’s Flux Time Capacitor isn’t working properly, I’m going to have drive there like everyone else.
*Obviously, in the movie it’s 1985, as the sequel picks up exactly where the original left off.