Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is your average Hill Valley high school kid. When he visits his friend Emmett “Doc” Brown (Christopher Lloyd) Brown isn’t home and by the looks of things, hasn’t been home for days. While Marty is there the phone rings. On the other end is Doc whispering. He asks Marty to meet him at the Twin Pines Mall at 1:15 A.M.
Marty is late for school and Principal Strickland (James Tolkan) calls him a slacker and tells him he is like his father and will amount to nothing. Good way to inspire a young mind. After Marty’s band fails the audition for the school dance Marty is a little depressed. His girlfriend Jennifer Parker (Claudia Wells) tries to be encouraging. Marty’s home life is one of the reasons he’s depressed. His father George (Crispin Glover) is a wimpy doormat who is bullied by his boss Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) and his mother Lorraine (Lea Thompson) is an overweight alcoholic.
Late that night, when Marty gets to the shopping mall, Doc reveals a souped up DeLorean that he has modified as a time machine. The time machine runs on plutonium. Doc got the plutonium from a Libyan terrorist group with the promise of building them a bomb. While Marty is filming, Doc demonstrates how the time machine works by sending his dog Einstein into the future. He then shows Marty how the controls work. Doc sets the controls for November 5, 1955 which was the day he conceived the idea of a time travel devise. Doc refuels the car with plutonium preparing to take a trip into the future.
Before Doc can leave the Libyans show up firing automatic weapons. They shoot Doc and attempt to shoot Marty. Marty jumps into the DeLorean and speeds away with the terrorists on his tail. When the car gets up to 88 miles per hour the flux capacitor activates and Marty is transported to November 5, 1955. He crashes into a barn and terrifies a family who think he is an alien from outer space. Marty speeds away until he runs out of fuel.
The first thing Marty does when he gets to town is interfere with the time continuum by interacting with his parents and messing up their first meeting. Now Marty has to make things right so that his parents meet and fall in love so that they can get married and he can be born. Otherwise he will disappear. While he is doing that Doc is preparing the DeLorean for the time when he can send Marty back… to the future.
“Back To The Future” was released in 1985 and was directed by Robert Zemeckis. In December 2007, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". The movie spawned two more films. It is Science Fiction at its funniest and the most entertaining time travel film ever. The humor is both obvious and subtle. The fun just obvious. Not to mention it’s a bit of a nail biter here and there.
Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale wrote the script. When they first began to write it the time machine was made from a refrigerator. By the time production for the film began the refrigerator had changed to a DeLorean.
The 1985 time machine operated using plutonium to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity needed to power the flux capacitor and initiate time travel. With the plutonium fuel, once the car accelerated to 88 miles per hour the flux capacitor is activated. The flux capacitor created a time displacement field which results in lightning coiling around the vehicle. The car appears to implode into a ball of plasma which creates fiery trails behind the car’s tires. The car had two time clocks on the dashboard. The first was used to set the time destination using month day and year. The second recorded the present date inside the vehicle or the last date the car departed from its last point in time.
The film’s DeLorean had to reach 88 miles per hour to time travel. The DeLorean’s speedometer only went to 85 MPH due to a law signed by Jimmy Carter that capped speedometers. The filmmakers had to swap out the DeLorean’s speedometer for one that reached 95 MPH. After the film's release, body kits were made for DeLoreans to make them look like the time machine.
Biff Tannen was named after studio executive Ned Tanen, who behaved aggressively toward Zemeckis and Gale during a script meeting for a previous venture “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” 1978. Gale also later claimed that Biff's character was based on Donald Trump. President Ronald Reagan was a fan and referred to the film in his 1986 State of the Union Address.
The head of Universal Pictures, Sid Sheinberg, didn’t like the title "Back to the Future". He said that no one would see a movie with "future" in the title. He sent a memo to Robert Zemeckis about it and suggested that the title be changed to "Spaceman From Pluto" to tie in with the Marty-as-alien jokes in the film. He also suggested changing the "I'm Darth Vader from planet Vulcan" line with "I am a spaceman from Pluto!". Spielberg changed Sheinberg’s mind by sending him a memo thanking him for sending the wonderful "joke memo", and that everyone got a kick out of it. Sheinberg let the title stand rather than admit that he was serious.