The following posts will be on a topic that I have a love hate relationship with, Time Travel. I enjoy watching most Time Travel movies, with the exception that they do it right (which is basically never) , and love analyzing the alternate timelines that the protagonist and their companions create when breaking the space-time continuum (the typical time travel plot). My analysis on these films often turn into confusion of continuity, discussion with friends, myself drawing out the timelines on paper and finally concluding that the entire plot of the film was completely impossible. My dream is to travel through space and time. Venture through alternate realities. I only wish that time travel films could make the idea seem more plausible. But unfortunately they don’t. The 1980s classic ‘Back to the Future’, one of my favorite time travel films, is one that completely destroys the possibility of time travel.(note: if you have not seen this film, fix that now please).
In ‘Back to the Future’ protagonist Marty Mcfly travels from 1985 to 1955 through a time travelling DeLorean. In the 1985 he left, his family was quite distant (and quite awkward). Marty’s father acts as if his wife doesn’t exist and both Marty’s brothers and sisters are quite strange. When arriving in 1955, Marty meets the younger versions of his parents who were in their later years of High School. Marty meets his father and tries to set him up with is mother ‘Lorraine’. The only obstacle that stops Marty and his dad is the High School bully ‘Biff’ who is also interested in Lorraine. Oddly enough, Lorraine was fond of Marty, her own son (of course she hadn’t known who he was). As the plot continues Marty finally sets up his introverted father with is mother at the High School dance which insinuates that Marty was the entity that brought them together. Big Mistake. Why? Because in the original timeline, the first 1985 we saw, Marty’s parents are unhappy but together. So before Marty ever left to 1955, at the beginning of the film, there was something, someone that brought together in the original 1985. But what? What Spielberg? The answer could be that it was always Marty. There was always a Marty out there who went to 1955, got his parents together and came back to the future (1985). But this isn’t possible .At the end of Back to the Future Marty returns to a future (1985) that is completely different from the one he left from. His parents are happy now, his dad is an accomplished man and is siblings are less awkward. All because of Marty’s doings. So if it there was a Marty that always brought them together, why wasn’t the first 1985 we saw, at the beginning of the film, the 1985 where his parents were soo happy???!!!!.
The movie bends the spine of its own plot with the inexplicable causes to the prime timeline. The movie was great, but you question how any components exist without time travelling Marty. Such as when Doc got shot in the beginning of the movie, moments before Marty traveled to 1955. 1955 Marty gave 1955 Doc a note stating that he would get shot in 1985. A note that saved his life. Therefore, was the prime timeline Doc never killed in the opening sequences of the film as there was always a Marty that prevented that from happening? Therefore, if Marty had never left to 1955, would Doc be alive anyways? The thing is, we never see Doc ‘die’ at the beginning of the film. He just layed there on the ground as Marty traveled through space and time. Was he wearing the bullet proof vest in the prime timeline that some Marty requested he had? We seriously don’t know. We just don’t know.
I could discuss all that things that Back to the Future messed up in their continuity, not only the movie but the franchise, but that is as complicated as explaining why the timelines in the movie don’t work themselves’.