Back to the Future

Question: Doc Brown's workshop at the beginning of the movie strikes me as highly reminiscent of the one belonging to Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, right down to the elaborate food-dispensing mechanisms. Potts also had a dog named Edison in that movie, just as Doc has one named Einstein. Were these similarities intended as a deliberate homage, or are they just similar expressions of the "mad scientist" trope?

New this month Answer: It's definitely a deliberate homage. The similarities between the two characters don't end there...in fact, both share the line "I've finally invented something that works!"

Question: What does the saying "Why don't you make like a tree, and get out of here", mean?

Answer: It's a way of saying "scram" or "get lost." But Biff is so dim, he doesn't realize he's saying it wrong; the expression is "make like a tree and leaf", with the joke being that "leaf" is meant to sound like "leave."

Cubs Fan

Question: How is Marty able to play a 1980s videotape on a 1950s television set? Is this just another example of Doc's ahead-of-his-time inventiveness?

Answer: The video camera was in the DeLorean. With the right kind of adapter, which was common enough in the 80s that Doc might've had it on the camera or been able to jury-rig something in the 50s, it would have been possible to connect it into the antenna screws in the back of the TV and play it directly from the camera.

Captain Defenestrator Premium member

TVs in the 50s had a two prong antennae connection (two screws in the back that you put a prong antennae into) TVs in the mid 80s also had this. The coax connection (the one wire that screws in) was starting to become common, but, the two prong connection would have been more likely on any given TV at the time, so, whatever wire they used to preview recordings probably had that. very convenient that Marty brought those cords with him.

An old Atari 2600 RF Adapter would be how one would link a video camera to an old-fashioned television. A simple-enough part that Doc could probably make one with 1950s technology.

Captain Defenestrator Premium member

Question: Right when Marty gets back to Doc before he goes back to 1985, he's praising his dad's actions of the night. One line that's bothered me ever since I can remember is "My dad laid out Biff. He's never stood up to Biff in his life." And then the Doc pauses for a second and gets a strange look on his face and says, "Never?" To that, Marty says, "No, why?" and the Doc shrugs it off saying, "Nevermind." What's Doc thinking? The best I can come up with is that he's wondering what effects it'll have on the future, but that's a rough guess. If anyone out there knows, I'd be happy to hear it.

DenizenZERO

Chosen answer: I think that is *exactly* what he is thinking. He realizes that by standing up to Biff, George may have irrevocably changed his personal future, and therefore affected Marty's future as well. This is exactly the sort of thing Doc was so eager to prevent by refusing to hear any information about the future.

Phil C.

Answer: In the novel Marty adds that George is also thinking about college now. Doc says that this might delay Loraine and George having kids for awhile and adds that Marty might find himself like 10-14 years old when he gets back to 1985.

Question: If Doc doesn't want to know what's going to happen in his/the future, then why did he tape the letter Marty gave him in 1955, which he tore up, back together instead of throwing it away? Also why did he have it on him at the end to give to Marty, if he had no idea Marty would show up at Lone Pine Mall after coming back to 1985?

Heather Benton Premium member

Chosen answer: It's not stated directly in the movie, but it's easy to infer that Doc Brown was subject to the one thing that just about all scientists fall victim to... Curiosity. You can guess that after Marty vanished back to the future, Doc became too curious to resist and assembled the paper back together to read it. In turn, this would give him the information he needed to save himself with a bulletproof jacket, and know the important of why Marty would go back in time when it is 85. And he would have kept the note on him because he DID know Marty would come back to that point. After all, he did send him back off 30 years prior, with the intent of going back to that very day. Doc is intelligent, and would have expected things to turn out that way given the unwritten laws of time travel and paradox.

Quantom X Premium member

Question: Can you please explain to me how Doc got into the DeLorean from within the truck? Clearly the internal width of the truck is not capable of handling gull-wing doors whilst parked inside. He would have had to push the car out, get in, drive it back in, then remotely close and open the hydraulic door/ramp on the back of the truck. This is one of the things which really sticks out in the film for me.

Answer: The side clearance of the DeLorean DMC-12's doors is actually only 11 inches (less than a regular side-hinge car door). The truck would be around 7.5 feet wide inside, the DeLorean is just over 6 feet 1 inch wide so if it was driven in 4 inches to the right it would be possible to open the driver's door.

Sierra1 Premium member

Question: I'm not sure if I must ask this in BTTF 1 or 2 but can anyone explain me why the mall is called 'twin pine mall' and 'lone pine mall' in the other movie?

Loesjuh1985

Chosen answer: In BTTF 1, when Marty goes back to 1955, it's revealed that there used to be a farm where the mall was located, and there were two pine trees on the farm, hence the Twin Pines Mall name. But while Marty was escaping the farmer, he runs over and kills one of the trees, thus altering the course of time and leading to the Lone Pine Mall name.

Jeff Swanson

Question: What is the make/model of the car that Biff wrecked, that is being towed into the McFly's driveway near the beginning of the film?

Answer: The car being towed into the driveway is a 1979 Chevrolet Nova.

Question: One thing I have wondered is how Marty was able to cram so much into the final hour before the lightning bolt at the clock tower which was Marty's ticket home to 1985? Just after 9:00pm George stands up to Biff, we know this because we see the clock on the wall just before George proceeds to the car where Marty and Lorraine are parked. The next time we see the time is 9:30pm with Doc standing in front of the clock noticing the storm is coming, just after 9:30pm Marty plays "Earth Angel" at the Dance followed by Johnny B Goode, Marty arrives back at the clock tower at 9:56pm. So basically in 26 minutes Marty was able to play 2 songs at the dance, wish George and Lorraine the best for the future, change out of his Zoot suite and then drive back to the clock tower to go home. The whole sequence gets even better in Back to the Future Part 2, between 9:30pm and 10:04pm Marty manages to stop Biff's goons from jumping Marty up on stage playing Johnny B Goode, he then witnesses Marty from part 1 talking to his parents and having a confrontation with Biff. Marty and Doc then chase Biff what looks to be through the outskirts of Hill Valley and eventually get the Almanac from Biff, and see Biff crash into another manure truck. Marty and Doc then have time to fly down to the future location of Lyon Estates to burn the book, and then for Marty witness the time machine be struck by lighting and the man from Western Union to turn up with the letter for Marty.

Blair Howden

Chosen answer: Both songs are less than three minutes long, so there's six minutes of actually playing plus, say, four minutes of chatter in between songs. That's ten minutes. Five minutes to change brings the total up to fifteen minutes. At this point, he's till got eleven minutes to wish George and Lorraine a happy life and book it to the clock tower a few blocks over. He's barely got to hurry.

Phixius Premium member

Question: When Marty wakes up in the new 1985, the clock changes from 10:27 to 10:28. Why would his siblings be eating breakfast and preparing to go to work this late in the morning?

geezer

Chosen answer: It's Saturday. A lot of office jobs, if you're going to them on the weekend, would start later and end earlier.

Phixius Premium member

Question: There's an all black band playing at an all white school in the 50's - is that likely?

AidanN

Chosen answer: Why not? Even though segregation was in effect, we never see them do anything but play on the stage. They even take their break outside, away from all the white folks at the dance. They are never shown using any of the "white" facilities, or fraternizing with any of the students. In fact, when they are "on break" at their car, it is behind the building, where there are no other cars, or even any people, anywhere around at all.

Jazetopher

Question: Why do Marty's brother and sister get erased from top to bottom, and Marty just fades? Why can't they just all fade?

DeathGawd

Chosen answer: The way I understand Doc's explanation, Dave and Linda were both erased completely because Marty interfered with their parents' meeting; thus the three children were erased from existence, from oldest to youngest. Marty only begins to fade because the timeline corrects itself before he gets erased completely.

Cubs Fan

Question: Just wondering out loud. Since Marty showed Doc the drawing of a flex capacitor in 1955, I think this would have caused some infinite loop in the universe. I'll explain it better. Wouldn't Marty have destroyed the universe because he showed Doc the time machine in 1955, meaning Doc wouldn't have had the machine tested out in 1985 because the design was already "completed" in 1955, meaning Marty never would have went back in time in the first place to show Doc the time machine, meaning that Doc would test it out in 1985, meaning that Marty would have gone back to 1955 and showed Doc the time machine, meaning Doc wouldn't have tested it out in 1985, meaning Marty wouldn't have gone back in time and showed Doc the time machine, meaning etc.

Answer: Jeez, take a deep breath already. Yes, as a result of Marty's jaunt back in time, Doc now knows more about the design of the time machine, but that doesn't mean that he has the capability to build it in 1955. He needs all sorts of high-tech equipment, plus, let's not forget, some plutonium from somewhere. Regardless of his additional knowledge of the systems, it may simply be impossible to build until 1985. You also have to consider that Doc's not stupid - he knows that he completes the time machine in 1985, starting the whole thing off. He's not going to risk a temporal disruption by completing it early.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: During one scene in 1955, Marty mentions John F. Kennedy, and nobody has any idea who he's talking about. Would Kennedy really have been a totally unfamiliar name to most Americans in 1955? True, he wasn't President yet, but he was a popular Democratic senator from a prominent family.

Answer: He was both a war hero and a senator, but unless Lorraine's father followed politics closely he might not have recognized the name, especially since Kennedy wasn't a senator for their state.

Jason Hoffman

Plus it would be unheard of to name a street after a living politician from across the country.

LorgSkyegon

Answer: Keep in mind, there was no TV news in that house (they just got a TV). And I don't see the dad being one to read any further than the sports page, or listen to anything but comedy on the radio.

They didn't just get a TV, he just made it possible to watch it whilst eating.

lionhead

If I remember correctly, Mrs. Baines said that they just got the TV.

They did just get the TV. When they were sitting at the table Lorraine said to Marty "It's our first television set, dad just picked it up today."

Question: During the clock tower scene at the end, why is it necessary for the DeLorean to be going 88mph at the exact moment lightning hit the clock tower? When the Delorean was struck by lightning while it was in mid air at the end of the second film, it wasn't going 88mph at all, yet it was still shot through time. Seems the Delorean could have been parked in the street in front of the clock tower connected to the wire and just wait to be struck by lightning and sent back to 1985, no?

Carl Missouri

Chosen answer: The DeLorean was spun on its axis at 88mph when it got struck by lightning, that's what caused the backwards 99 and the time jump. Unbeknownst to Doc he'd accidentally switched on the time circuits.

Question: Since the probability of having three children is greater than the probability of having two children, shouldn't Marty (as the youngest) disappear from the photograph first rather than last?

kingjames

Chosen answer: Probability has nothing to do with it. The changes in the timeline are rippling out from the initial point of disruption. As Marty's brother and sister were born before him, their respective births are closer to the point where the alteration happened. As such, they're erased from the timeline first, so they fade out before he does.

Tailkinker Premium member

Question: I've noticed that Eric Clapton's "Heaven is One Step Away" is on the movie soundtrack. Does it appear in the film, and if so, where?

Cubs Fan

Chosen answer: The song is playing on the Red's radio while he is lying on the bench outside the Courthouse when Marty arrives back in 1985.

Question: Why does Lorraine suddenly call Marty by his regular name not Calvin Klein, did I miss something?

Answer: During the scene where Lorraine sees Marty's underwear and assumes Calvin Klein is his name, Marty tells her most people call him Marty. She still thinks his name is Calvin, but she tries to make him happy by using his preferred "nickname".

Jason Hoffman

Question: When Marty comes back to a "new" 1985, his family has money, his siblings are now successful, they treat Marty like he never left (except to go to the lake). But before he supposedly went to the lake, didn't Marty act normal? Didn't Marty grow up with this new and improved family and have different experiences that didn't happen when they were poor? If so, why does he have no memory of this? If Marty grows up with money, has a successful father, a sister that's popular, what happens to "this" Marty? The one that grew up differently now that he was born into a richer family? (This can't be the same Marty that goes back in in time that we see at the end of the movie, because if that Marty will do everything we saw in the movie, hes the same Marty before anything changed. Like when he said his dad never stood to to Biff in his life).

Carl Missouri

Chosen answer: Yup, that's what happens in time travel movies. All sorts of paradoxes pop up. You could sit and ponder this for the rest of your life. Or you could just enjoy the goofiness of it all. If you get a chance, look up an old article called "Back to the Future with the Other Marty McFly." It theorizes that there are, in fact, two Marty McFlys whose lives intersect with the competing timelines. But if you're seriously trying to figure out the complexities of all this, take the advice given in Austin Powers II and just enjoy the movie.

K.C. Sierra

Question: I'm intrigued if anyone knows what the experiment was that Doc refers to at the start. He says "my experiment worked - all the clocks are exactly 25 minutes slow". The only thing I can think of is that Doc loaded them all into the time machine or something similar - is there any official answer, or is it just a random comment?

Jon Sandys Premium member

Chosen answer: It's just a random comment, and I suppose is also an early indicator that Doc Brown is performing experiments involving time. Whatever, it's certainly nothing that bears any relevance to the rest of the film.

Gaz

Continuity mistake: When Biff and his goon friends are in Biff's car, as they chase Marty on his borrowed 'skateboard', the car's rearview mirror repeatedly disappears and reappears, and the side mirror changes from round to square repeatedly. (01:06:50)

Super Grover Premium member
More mistakes in Back to the Future

George McFly: Lou. Give me a milk... Chocolate.

More quotes from Back to the Future

Trivia: The farm where Marty arrives in 1955 belongs to a man called Peabody, and he calls his son Sherman; the names are a tribute to "Sherman and Mr. Peabody," two cartoon time travellers from a 1960s American TV show.

More trivia for Back to the Future

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