Friday, 17 September 2010

Set the controls for 1985

It's 25 years since Back to the Future, and it's being re-released in cinemas, which doesn't happen very often with mainstream films. I actually can't remember whether I saw it on the big screen the first time (my parents didn't take us very often: my ET experience was queuing for two hours before my dad got bored and we went home - not an uncommon event).

It is, though, one of my favourite films, and I rate the sequels too - I'll be going to see it. Under the nostalgia and brash 80s exterior is a cunning blend of wit and social satire. The suburban 80s are sterile and soul-destroying. Marty's parents are exhausted office drones, later transformed into smug loud yuppies - neither position is good. The dystopian town of the near future is a hellhole of Reaganite free-market immorality and selfishness, in which the cinema shows only porn, litter strews the central park, the courts don't function, schools are derelict, workers abused and women objectified: the 1950s version is repressed, racially segregated and sexless - only Marty's love of metal and his sense of fair play can save the day. I've loved Johnny B. Goode ever since. And I also appreciate the presence of a DeLorean - in case you missed it, DeLorean was given a massive amount of British taxpayers' cash by Thatcher to produce cars in Northern Ireland, as a bribe to stop fighting. Little did Thatcher know that John DeLorean was a coke-snorting fantasist mixed up in drug-dealing and conman - the company didn't last very long (and despite looking great, the cars were apparently rubbish). Though you can now buy a brand-new, upgraded version. If only I could drive.

There's a debate in cultural studies about the worth of mass culture: this film demonstrates that even the machine can produce rounded, interesting art. I could go on, but this writer makes the case far better.


Ewarwoowar said...

It's funny isn't it? I never really "got" Back To The Future, but love Star Wars, whereas for your good self I believe it's the other way round. Ho hum.

I've driven a Delorean on the Xbox360 game PGR4. It was bloody terrible.

The Plashing Vole said...

Odd how these things catch you. Star Wars is more my era than yours (I was born in 1975) but it leaves me cold. All to do with your social circle, I guess.