Back To The Future Defined The 80's

The Quintessential 80's Movie

The 80’s witnessed the release of plenty of remarkable films. There are several movies that may be associated with this period, but ultimately, it is arguable that Back to the Future defined the 80’s. This masterpiece directed by Robert Zemeckis premiered in 1985 and it stars no less than Michael J. Fox. It celebrated huge success upon its release and even won an Oscar for sound effects. It was also nominated for other awards, including best original song (queue in The Power of Love) and best writing, but there’s more to it that makes it the quintessential movie of the 80’s. 

Back to the Future is ambitious and a bit off-beat, but it’s loads of fun. It’s not pretending to be deep and in fact, actually embraces the outrageousness of it all. That’s what makes it such a legendary movie. It seems that all it wants is for the audience to have a blast. Sure, critics can talk days and days about the loopholes. We already know that time travel is not as easy as was depicted in the movie. But when a film is this entertaining, do we have to be that pendantic about stuff that isn’t entirely plausible? I think not because it’s the sort of movie that leaves a smile on your face and gives you a satisfying cinematic experience. As far as I’m concerned, it sets the standards of how a great flick should be.

The moment Einstein in the Dolorean disappear into the future.
Meeting your parents as teenagers - a 'great Scott' moment for sure

A Simple Plot With Brilliant Story-Telling

The movie’s main storyline is pretty simple and straightforward. The film is set in 1985 and it focuses on teenager Marty McFly who accidentally travels 30 years into the past in a machine invented by Dr. Brown, who we lovingly know simply as Doc. Marty’s time-travelling, being unintentional, didn’t really have a mission. But due to a series of events, he finds himself having to make sure that his parents, who were teenagers in 1955, fall in love. Otherwise, Marty and his siblings would be wiped out of existence. 

The simplicity of the plot gives the movie the opportunity to be big on other aspects. The details of the film are thoughtful, such that the seemingly insignificant things that happen early on are actually a set-up for the big events that will occur later in the narrative.

Marty and Jennifer discussing weekend plans

Heartwarming Themes

Back to the Future has a little bit of everything. It has science-fiction, comedy, subtle drama, a hint of romance, coming-of-age story, action and witty dialogue to boot. And what makes the film endearing is that there is a depth to it that does not leave the audience feeling weighed down at all. The movie is about adventure as much as it is about second chances, family, friendship, choices and dreams. We are not sure whether it was intended to be an inspirational movie, but it nevertheless is. 

The film doesn’t skimp on character development either. We see how Marty’s town had been prior to its evolved state. And while Marty’s parents seemed cartoonish at the start — washed up adults who have plateaued in life — we witness how they were once hopeful and bright teenagers. We see how one important decision can affect the entire sequence of things, especially in the case of Marty’s dad. 

The earlier part of the movie depicted him as a nonstarter who still allows himself to be bullied despite his age. But when Marty travels 30 years back and interacts with his dad, Marty helps him build his confidence and hypes him up about his creative pursuit. In the end, we find his dad looking more confident, dignified and happy. Indeed, it matters a lot when someone believes in you. A little bit of courage and a leap of faith can change everything.

How The ‘Future’ Actually Fares

We’re now in the future that the movie franchise imagined. It’s amusing and a little bittersweet realizing that there are quite a few aspects that the film got right about the future, but there were also those that just haven’t come to be yet. For instance, we now have personal drones, wearable technology, tablets and smartphones, video glasses, cars fueled by biodiesel and biometric devices. However, we’re still waiting for flying cars and hoverboards and the problem of traffic has only become worse. Nonetheless, it’s touching how the 80’s had such high expectations for the new millenium. And it is still encouraging how a number of those expectations were met.

Back to the future defined the 80’s not only with the accurate imagery of pop culture at that time, but more importantly, with the way it portrayed the period’s thoughts about the past and its hopes for the future. But really, it’s a movie that stands the test of time. It remains relevant up until now; thanks to its timeless message. The film is a reminder that we are in charge of our future and that there are endless possibilities. But unlike Doc and Marty, we don’t have the benefit of a time machine yet. So if there’s something we want to do or become, we can’t afford to miss an opportunity because we may never get it back.

What are your thoughts on Back to the Future? Let me know in the comments section below.

For more cool things from the 80’s, read our full post, 17 Cool Things About The 80’s.

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Back To The Future Gift Ideas

There is a lot of memorabilia out there, especially on Amazon, Etsy and Ebay. Amazon is usually cheaper with more selection and so I’ve chosen them. And if you’re not super satisfied with what you’ve bought, their returns policy is really good.

With so much to choose from, where do you start? My focus has been on cool, fun and quirky items, all garnering decent ratings from well-priced sellers.

Please note that I am an Amazon Affiliate and receive a small compensation if you use my links, but it will not increase your purchase price. If you use my links, I truly appreciate it 😉

1.21 Gigawatts Tee

If you meet someone who doesn’t understand what this shirt means, just walk away.  

Check it out on Amazon.

Funko Pop Doc

A very cute nostalgic gift idea. Perfect for a Christmas stocking.

Check it out on Amazon.

1/24 Model Delorean

A very well made metal model of the classic car. Great for a die-hard fan. 

Check it out on Amazon.

6 thoughts on “Back To The Future Defined The 80’s”

  1. Back To The Future (1985) is my untouched most loved film. It’s a completely feel great film, open to all ages and agreeable from the first to the 45th season of viewing and never neglects to bring a grin. Humor for all ages and a kick-ass vehicle for sure, what more could a small child need? Or then again those youthful on a fundamental level?

    From Marty’s “Johnny B Goode” to Doc’s great “Run For It Marty!” You’ll see that despite the fact that you recognize what’s coming straightaway, you’ll despite everything chuckle. It is a definitive vibe great film, the weed conquers the domineering jerk, the visionaries wishes work out and all in light of the fact that a nosey old winged creature pushes for a nickel “Spare The Clock Tower!”

    It’s ubiquity produced 2 continuations and despite the fact that it got decreasingly great regarding quality as a film, Back To The Future remains the best film in my repetoire and a sure thing when you have to feel better.

    It gets a strong 9 out of 10, parody, dream, the beautiful Lea Thompson, the crazy yet comic Doc and the average adolescent Marty make this film an absolute necessity for all youthful on a basic level.

  2. As with so many film franchises, the Back to the Future films got darker with each one.  The first film was to science fiction in the 80’s as American Graffiti was for its time period,  Time travel has been the subject of many films, but Back to the Future, with its nostalgic fun, great characters and tight plot is my favorite of that genre.  You’ve described  it well in your article.

  3. Back to the future in my opinion is a cult classic film that made a mark on its generation in no way other movies then could have. Everything about the movie was memorable, the comedic elements, witty banter and camaraderie between Marty and Doc and the all round plot of the movie. Thank you for this walk down memory lane 

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