I like to find in-universe reasons for things even if practical behind-the-scenes reasons explain stuff. That's a given. One that caught my attention watching Back to the Future yesterday was Doc Brown's photos of scientists. In 1955, he has four of them on his mantel--Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein. So, it took the second viewing in as many days to notice that in the opening tracking shot, there are just three of these photos hanging by Doc's bed in his 1985 abode--the garage of his old house (which burned down and then he sold off the property--
and which exists (the filming location anyway) next to a Burger King that is still there--and I forgot about heading there after work to get a photo... His 1955 house exterior--the Gamble House--still exists not too far from here as well, but I didn't get over there either. I would love it if I had time to get to every nearby location--and living in LA, there are a lot, for many a film--but, alas, there are often other errands to be run, other tasks to be done.
And yet, for some reason, I've been thinking of new things to do beyond this blog again, lately. Because, I operate under the illusion--or maybe it's my reality; I don't really know--that I thrive when I've got too much going on. I also tend toward downward spirals into depression, but maybe that and thriving are the same thing sometimes. Anyway, more on that another day. I actually had a specific thing to talk about today...)
--per the newspaper headline that Doc has framed for some reason.)--and the one that is missing is Isaac Newton. Here:
Newton is missing, and I want to know why. Or I want to imagine why. Because a film that deals so much in predestination and course correction and all the usual time travel tropes feels like something where every little detail should mean something. To be fair, certain details, like Mayor Goldie Wilson, and potential ex-mayor, homeless guy Red, have nothing to do with the plot. They are just dressing to draw attention to time period differences. Mayor Strickland and his lack of hair--it's funny, because we laugh at baldness, because we're assholes, but it really doesn't matter to the story. Remove him from the film and the story still plays. It doesn't really tell us anymore about Marty that he gets caught when he's late for school thats it does that he is regularly late for school. But, I talked about the lack of a real character arc, or serious characterization outside of reacting to the situation, for Marty yesterday. (But, it's worth noting, especially if you follow Cinema Sins videos, that being late as a character beat is overdone and mostly pointless.)
And, is it wrong that I wish that the twelve wooden crates filled with cocaine that washed ashore in Boca Raton (the other news story in the opening shot) tied into the plot like the stolen plutonium? Or, does it? Is that why Doc seems so wired? He's doing nothing but cocaine and research.
Another Sidenote: I only realized this week rewatching this movie that the "Hill Valley Preservation Society" doesn't want to fix the clock tower. For three decades plus I've thought that old lady was taking donations to fix the clock, but she specifically says the mayor wants to fix it but the preservation society wants it to stay just how it is.
Also, the age makeup for George and Lorraine and Biff feels a decade too old. They are in their late 40s, but look older.
But, what I really wanted to talk about today was destiny. Or at least what Back to the Future has to tell us about destiny.
But then, the Doc distracts me, because leaving Einstein sitting outside the truck, but not (apparently) to signal Marty's arrival--Einstein doesn't make a sound--is weird.
And the double meaning of "You disintegrated Einstein" is kind of clever.
Or Newton. I'm looking up Newton to suggest a specific reason that Newton is the picture Doc has either misplaced (or at least separated from the other three). And I find myself reading something about optics and I get sidetracked thinking about Annihilation for reasons beyond this blog.
Also, Marty is not good at time travel. You do not announce that you've seen a tv show in a rerun (even though reruns did exist at the time). You just laugh along and act natural, damn it. And, knowing at this point that you're in 1955, you don't claim that a street is John F Kennedy Dr. Just accept that it's Maple and move on. Lorraine's father is correct in calling Marty an idiot.
But, destiny... Does Marty really affect the timeline? Does Doc? Or were George and Lorraine always going to get together, and the details just came down to how happy they might be?
Doc's confusion at Marty's use of "heavy" is also silly. Obviously, slang changes. If I meet a time traveler and every other word is "station" I might ask what it means, but I won't assume it means what I think it means. You know?