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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Don't step on the butterflies.

Back to the Future (1985) on IMDb

Plot Overview

The clocks on the wall say 7:52 going on 7:53. Owl eyes tracking with the ticks give the impression of wisdom as a robotic arm dispenses a can of dog food for a mutt named Einstein. A visitor 17-year-old Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) lets himself into the garage, a clipping on the wall stating the reason—“Brown mansion destroyed”—why scientist Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) doesn't live in the big house any more. He calls home and Marty answers (“Hey, Doc”) to give him the time on the clocks. The scientist who's been investi­gating time travel is elated to learn, “They're all exactly 25 minutes slow.” That makes Marty late for school, earning himself a fourth demerit and the ire of principal Mr. Strick­land (James Tolkan) who tells him, “You're too much like your old man. No McFly ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley!”

Marty's father is a milquetoast, his mother isn't cool, his older brother isn't successful, his sister isn't popular, and his uncle isn't out on bail. Marty seems normal except for having that strange scientist friend, and when the kid accidently gets trans­ported back in time to 1955 and inter­feres big time with his dorky parents connecting up, he must try to repair the time line damage before he fades out of existence. He enlists a younger version of the scientist displaying his leger­de­main to help Marty make the trip back to 1985, tapping the only available energy source they can harness back then. Of the paradoxical interactions he has, he says it's been “educational.”


Some fundamental lessons are given that could be from Ecclesiastes. (Eccl. 11:1) “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Marty's investment in the teen­age version of his parents pays off when he returns to their future grownup selves.

(Eccl. 11:2) “Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.” Seven is the number of completion. Better take enough plutonium fuel for the journey back and also line up a secondary power source if needed.

(Eccl. 11:3) “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” Rip off the Libyans of their plutonium and they'll be the dark cloud come to get you. If you escape them in your time machine, what­ever destination time you set will be where you'll end up and where you'll stay … unless you can figure a way back.

(Eccl. 11:4) “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” As for life lessons, if you're always sampling which way the wind's blowing, you'll never submit your music to the studios, or your books to the publisher, or ask the pretty girl you like to the dance.

There's also one convoluted lesson. (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's.” The movie gives them a lot. In terms of Christian leader­ship, there's the Assembly of Christ Church fronting on the Courthouse Square, with all its godly influence to make Hill Valley a whole­some place to live. Having “the world” involves having an energy source (plutonium to start with and then some­thing more green), a make­shift skate­board in 1955, and—How could we live with­out it?—“It's our first television set.” “Life and death” issues involve avoiding the Libyan terrorists. “Things present or things to come” is tricky, with present day Marty going back to 1955 to influence the world to come through his parents to be. Some­thing analogous occurs in the scripture with the questions Joseph raised about the child to come from his pregnant wife Mary (Matt. 1:20: “behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”), answered in kind in Paul's present tense (1Cor. 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”) This sancti­fication is reminiscent of Job 1:4-5, all very mysterious.

There are some ancillary lessons as well. (1Tim. 5:11-12) “But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.” The widow who has gone man-crazy is reflected some­what in Marty's sister who against her mother's warning chases the boys. Also in Paul, (1Cor. 7:39) “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” The widow is not supposed to go man-crazy but to abide “in the Lord.”

One other lesson in passing is to open oneself to Paul rather than to other pushy teachers. (2Cor. 6:11-13) “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.” Paul is not a tight-ass (i.e., “straitened in [one's] own bowels”) like Mr. Strickland who said reprovingly, “Am I to under­stand you're still hanging around with Dr. Emmett Brown, McFly?” Paul allowed a broad spectrum of friend­ships, as demonstrated by 1Cor. 5:9-10. His following saying, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” was meant to apply to worship and ministry, not to friend­ships in the world. In the movie Marty could yoke him­self with the orchestra as their guitarist, but he couldn't get away with playing heavy metal.

Production Values

This sci-fi flick, “Back to the Future” (1985) was directed by Robert Zemeckis. It was written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson. Both Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd give impeccable performances. Lea Thompson did a knock­out job as the child/mom Lor­raine. The supporting cast does a great job, too. Young actors were used with extensive makeup when playing their older adult roles.

This movie is rated PG. The script is perfect, the orchestra is fulsome, the pop sound­track includes Lindsay Buckingham, Eric Carmen and Huey Louis and the News. Alan Silvestri's music served the picture well. “Back to the Future” is the gold standard in action, comedy, sci-fi. The main character displays an innocence appealing to the child in all of us.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I liked this picture when it came out in 1985, remembered a lot of it when seeing it again thirty years later, and enjoyed it all the same. This is a picture that has aged well, is well spoken of, and won't disappoint when seen again.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Lots of suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.