Their Favourite Film – Dan Keeble

Chris : “Happy Holidays everyone and welcome to another blog post for their favourite movies. For this one, we have another director of the ESSEX FILM COLLECTIVE, Daniel Keeble. Daniel is a film director, writer and cinematographer who has worked on a dozen projects for various companies, helpings created some beautiful and stunning shots, including his own film company, 127 FILMS, where their latest project, VIA[DOLO], was recently nominated by The New Creators Films awards for Best Narrative Short and Best Director. So now it’s time for Daniel to talk, and what better way to end the year on this blog by not looking into the future but remembering the past as we talk about this 1985 time travelling classic.”

Daniel Keeble – Back To The Future

Daniel : Back To The Future is pretty much a perfect film. A bold statement, sure, but for me, it’s utterly true.

I vividly remember seeing the DeLorean reverse out of the truck, dry ice smoke and flashing lights galore, for the very first time on a television trailer in the 80s, and ever since that moment, I’ve been hooked. From dressing up as Marty McFly in the garden, skateboard and trusty walkman in hand, to picking up ‘The Power of Love’ sheet music from a guitar shop in Leigh-on-Sea at 14 years old, from celebrating Back To The Future Day in 2015 with the cast at comic-con, right through to being enthralled by Back To The Future: The Musical at the Adelphi Theatre this year. 

Heck, my alarm each morning is ‘Time Bomb Town’, the song playing on the radio when Marty McFly is half-asleep in his bedroom towards the start of the film. Yes, I wake up to that song, True story. The nostalgic 80s geek culture is certainly alive with me, all thanks to Back To The Future

Christopher Lloyd & Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future (1985)

The script is airtight; that’s the main reason the film has stood the test of time. Every line of dialogue serves a purpose, and for quite a complicated film, to be able to link everything and not confuse the audience is truly remarkable. Blending action, sci-fi, comedy, adventure all into one storyline, with multiple versions of several characters, across three timelines, goes to show how good of a job Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale did. 

The Back To The Future script is an effective and accessible tool for new screenwriters to learn from. It has plenty of setups and payoffs; I love how certain lines elegantly foreshadow important parts of the story further down the line. The film’s first half is full of beautifully written; smart and crucial exposition, masterfully crafted for the spectacular ending to wrap around full circle so that everything makes sense. Even though I’ve watched the film hundreds of times, for each and every viewing I’m still discovering something new; small moments, something minor buried in a scene that I had failed to notice before…that just blows my mind.

If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything

This makes for a film that is so incredibly enjoyable with multiple viewings; watching a film that portrays an era in history I remember fondly helps me remember better times. Even though I know how it all ends, I’m so invested in the characters and the story it just makes me feel absolutely great every time.

Of course, it does have a few plot holes; tackling the subject of time travel is never an easy task, but that really doesn’t matter. It’s a fun, loud, popcorn movie with a fantastic, memorable score, energetic set-pieces, sharp, well-written dialogue and a super tense finale. I watch it at least once a year, and sometimes I’ll roll into Part 2 and 3 straight after.

Back To The Future has always been a part of my life in the past, and I hope it always will be in the future.

Michael J. Fox & Crispin Glover in Back To The Future (1985)

My Thoughts – Chris Robert’s take on the film

Chris : I need to first talk about the car. I’m not really a car guy, but I know my ones from shows and movies and for me, this is one of the most iconic cars in pop culture history, up there with the Batmobile and Ecto-1, and it has an interesting back story to go with it. In 1975, John DeLorean had a dream to change the auto industry, to manufacture a car that was both stylish and ethical, something that stood out among other vehicles but was affordable to the general public. In 1981, his company tried to achieve that with the DeLorean. However, shortly after the first lot was sold, there were issues; it ran out of power quickly, failing electrical systems and many other problems. In the end, only 9,000 of them were built. That was it for the DeLorean and would have been a mark in car manufacturers history as a failure and forgotten soon after if it wasn’t for a mad scientist who wanted to travel through time in style; for me, this just shows how brilliant this film is. They took a flawed car, added some thrusters to the back, put a flux capacitor in it, and created a car that every Sci-fan dreams of driving and became synonymous with the film. When you think of DeLorean, you don’t think about the failed beginnings. You just wonder what year you would go to if you had one.

It’s not just the car that makes the movie so great but also the people behind the wheel. Starting with Marty McFly, we’re given a quick-witted and charismatic protagonist. He’s cool enough that you want to be like him but also someone relatable. He’s just an easy-going teenager who wants to relax, date his girlfriend and dreams of making it as a rockstar, all things that we all want in a way. For me though, Doc Brown was my favourite. With him, we’re introduced to someone who may not be relatable like Marty, but you can’t deny that there’s a certain charm with him. He has some of the best quotes and one-liners in the movies, and Christopher Lloyd’s energy in his performance just made it even more enjoyable to watch. As a child, watching him invent incredible devices, being seen as an oddball but not caring and his passion for science made me want to be a mad scientist like him (until I learned the magic of films and that science is hard). Which is just more proof of the impact of this film on audiences. These were terrific, and well-written characters played brilliantly by actors with chemistry that was so natural and great to watch that you didn’t even question why a high schooler was friends with an ex-nuclear scientist in the first place.

So with the combination of these two characters and turning a car into a time machine, we are given a plot that on paper just seems too crazy to make, yet thanks to the brilliant minds of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, it works. In the end, we are given in a film that is the first of what to be one of the best film trilogies ever. Like Daniel says, it has some plot holes about time travel, and some story points did not age well, but it doesn’t matter because this is a timeless classic with an unforgettable lesson. The future is whatever you want it to be, so make it a good one. 

My Favourite Fact

Speaking of a film that shows what happens if things were different, the original script of Back To The Future was vastly different from what we got. A few key changes were that the Time Machine was originally made from a fridge powered by a nuclear blast. Einstein was a chimpanzee instead of a dog, and Doc and Marty ran an illegal business selling pirate videos. Makes you wonder what this film would have been liked if they kept it that way.

Chris Roberts has worked on many film projects across Essex as a boom operator and production assistant. Chris is a full time film trivia expert!

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