RogerBW's Blog

Back to the Future Part III 09 March 2022

1990 science fiction/comedy, dir. Robert Zemeckis, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd: IMDb / allmovie. You're just not thinking fourth dimensionally!

And this is the film I liked least at the time – I think because Westerns were old stuff that happened on television when there might have been something more interesting on. With more appreciation of their context, and generally broader tastes than I had in 1990, I can enjoy what's being done here, a subversion of the cliché Western though still in a loving way. (Every stunt performer in Hollywood apparently wanted to work on this – they all knew horse work, and there weren't many chances to do it any more.) Also, of course, it's more like the first film in that the time travel is mostly there as a way in and out; a flying saucer could do a similar job.

But the really good part of this film for me is Mary Steenburgen, who was probably cast because of her role in Time After Time (1979), as the contemporary woman whom H G Wells meets and falls in love with when he travels into his future to chase Jack the Ripper. Once more she meets and falls in love with a time traveller, then turns him away because she doesn't believe his story, and ends up leaving with him; surely not a coincidence. (But she's still a female character in a Back to the Future film, so she still ends up hanging by her dress and screeching for help. Sigh.)

Meanwhile Marty and Doc have nearly swapped roles: Marty is the voice of caution, let's just do the thing and get out of here, while Doc is out to have fun and adventure. Marty's role in the climactic sequence is reduced to sitting in a car and shouting… except of course that Marty has to learn his Moral Lesson. (Given how much plot machinary has had to move to give him that lesson, it seems a very minor personal victory.)

Still, there's a sense of fun here, even if the makeup for Fox as his great great grandfather would look embarrassing in amateur dramatics, and the Irish accents are, well, um. The problem-solving sequence, working out what exists in this time that can get the car up to speed (bearing in mind we only have a few days to make it happen), is lovely. The burned orange and sepia tone is achieved with actual light and set dressing, not a digital filter. The music effectively re-envisions the existing score with period styles.

A good conclusion, and we can also be glad that the team stopped there rather than running it into the ground.

More of my witterings can be had at Ribbon of Memes.

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