Tom, how am I gonna generate that kind of power?”
With the climactic scene in Back to the Future of course.
30 years ago, audiences stood up and cheered
as Doc Brown and Marty McFly gained mastery over time, space and the box office,
launching one of the most beloved film franchises in history.
but it took more than just fancy DeLorean driving
to create director Robert Zemeckis movie magic.
So this week on art of the scene,
we’re gonna crank up the Huey Lewis and breakdown the clock tower climax.
Back to the Future was inspired by screenwriter Bob Gale,
discovering his father’s old yearbook,
and wondering if they would have been friends in high school,
他断定 “不 不会的”
he decided:”No, probably not.”
But he did thankfully get along with his buddy Robert Zemeckis well enough
to team up and pin the script.
“To write a screenplay like Back to the Future,
it was just an immense amount of very hard back-breaking work.
I mean there was nothing really fun about writing the screenplay,
it was really hard. “
Despite Columbia initially liking the script,
they put it into turnaround in 1981,
because it wasn’t considered sexy enough.
Team driven movies of the era were hyper raunchy rumps,
think Porky’s or Revenge of the Nerds
In fact, for the next four years,
every studio in tongue passed on the Ox innocence of Marty McFly for that reason,
except for Disney.
Disney past because they didn’t think the reverse oedipal complex
of a mother falling in love with her son was appropriate.
So how did all this change?
Since he couldn’t get back to the future off the ground,
some mecca’s took a different directing assignment
that became the Michael Douglas action-adventure romancing the stone
which was a hit
with this wind in the sails,
Zemeckis approached Spielberg to produce Back to the Future,
and with that juice, they were able to set the movie up at Universal.
once it Universal the movie production was a cakewalk
and there were no problems whatsoever.
only except that they weren’t shooting the movie with Michael J Fox Fox
Fox would Zemeckis his first choice,
but the producer of Family Ties wouldn’t let Fox leave work to shoot the movie,
because Fox’s co-star Meredith Baxter was on maternity leave,
and without fox or Baxter, he would be out a bunch of series regulars.
so Zemeckis moved ahead with his second choice Eric Stoltz.
after shooting for four weeks, Zemeckis and Gale had an awful realization.
he’s a magnificent actor,
but his comedy sensibilities were very different than what I had written with Bob.
and he and I just never were able to make that work.
Stoltz recognized this as well,
admitting to friend and director Peter Bogdanovich
that he was unsure of Zemeckis direction and thought he was miscast.
Zemeckis explained the dilemma to Spielberg
and they all decided to amicably part ways with Eric
and now they were able to cast Fox since his family ties co-star was back from leave,
even though the reshoots would add three million dollars to the budget.
But Fox would have to do it when family ties didn’t need him,
which was at night.
Fox had to shoot family ties during the days
and then would drive straight from taping ties to the Back to the Future set.
film from 6:30 to around 3 am,
sleep for two to three hours and then repeat.
anything that needed to happen outdoors during daylight needed to be shot on weekends.
in addition to Michael J Fox, it also took its toll on Zemeckis,
who said the result was him directing the movie half asleep,
and was the fattest, most out of shape and sick I ever was.
A very quick refresher on the plot just to bring you up to 88 miles an hour.
the year is 1985,
Marty McFly is friends with kooky scientist Doc Brown
who’s invented a time machine built into a car.
Marty hops on the time machine to escape some terrorists
and is sent back to 1955 in the process
where he meets the younger version of his parents,
and disrupts their meeting making it unlikely he’ll ever be born.
now Marty must work to reunite them
in order to ensure his existence
and he and Doc must figure out a way to harness the 1.21 jigowatts
necessary to power the time machine to send Marty back to the future,
which brings us to the Clocktower scene,
因为 正如我们所知 著名的山谷镇钟楼
because as we all know the famous hill valley tower
was struck by lightning at precisely 10:04 p.m.
and apparently lightning bolts consists of 1.21 jigowatts worth of power
these are both obviously broad bits of movie logic,
a subject we’ll touch on in just a bit.
the clock tower scenes were shot at Courthouse Square on the Universal Studios backlot,
the clock tower was originally built for the 1948 film an act of murder,
but had also been prominently featured in To Kill a Mockingbird,
The Music Man and even gremlins.
the rest of Courthouse Square was used for the downtown Hill Valley scenes,
both the one set in 1955 and the ones in 1985.
These two time periods were one of the greatest challenges
that face production designer Lawrence Paul,
of Blade Runner and escape from LA Fame.
in 1985 people didn’t think of the 50s as a period yet,
making it difficult to find the right props.
writer Bob Gale described the process thusly:
“we decided to shoot all the 50 stuff first,
and make the town look real beautiful and wonderful,
then we would just totally trash it down
make it all bleak and ugly for the 1980 scenes.”
sadly in real life had got totally trashed and Bleakley ugly on June 1st 2008
when a three alarm fire burned the surrounding set to the ground,
thankfully the clock tower was spared.
“Save the clock tower ……”
perhaps the most remarkable part about the Back to the Future climax
is how few visual effects were utilized
the original Star Wars in 1977 had 360 visual effect shots,
by comparison for 1985’s Back to the Future,
Industrial Light and Magic were tasked with creating only 32
without relying on never-before-seen visuals,
the heart-pounding excitement was the result of two sources:
simple practical special effects
and Zemeckis’s expert directing.
the practical effects consisted of lightning, fire and Doc Brown dangling off an edge.
the Lightning wasn’t CGI,
because the computational abilities of the time
weren’t capable of what visual graphics artists called verisimilitude,
which is a fancy word for the appearance of being real.
so the lightning strike and power surge was added via hand-animated rotoscoping.
traditionally this is done with an animator drawing a black line on clear acetate,
then placing that over a photo enlargement of each frame.
the acetates are then photographed composited,
then flipped negative to turn the dark black into blinding white
and then colored.
the iconic flame trails left our film fire 101,
as the special effects team would light a mixture of gas and pyro fluid.
unfortunately the fires would often go out before they needed to start shooting.
special effects man, Kevin pike, encountered a similar problem with the cold steam,
meant to waft off the time machine.
they would spray the DeLorean down with liquid nitrogen,
but it would frequently evaporate before it was time to shoot.
this is why the car is icy and some shots from the beginning of filming,
and hardly at all at the end.
they essentially gave up on the effect to save precious Michael J Fox shooting time.
lastly Doc Brown’s precarious courthouse ledge stunt work
was done by the inventor of the stunt airbag Bob Jurgis,
who was also a circus aerialist.
“……and ran away and joined the circus when I was 15,
and then I come back in a winner and new stunt”
film nerd Zemeckis used the scene to pay homage
to the iconic and hilarious 1923 Harold Lloyd silent comedy, Safety Last.
not to understate the production contributions of ILM or the stunt team,
but it’s Zemeckis who deserves the lion’s share of the credit
for making this climax so memorable.
as he expertly established the aforementioned broad movie logic.
so let’s push in and see how he sets up the scene
which is really more of an 11 minute sequence.
it opens with a long shot on the clock tower,
the minute hand moving forward, sets the scene in motion.
we, the audience, know the time the lightning will strike
and there is now literally a ticking clock on screen,
counting down the amount of time Marty has left to get back
Doc Brown steps into frame and proceeds to check multiple watches
watches before turning toward camera,
瞪大眼睛 “burning the lense”
going bug-eyed and burning the lens,
which his industry speak for looking directly at the camera.
unlike, say, Ferris Bueller,
doc doesn’t break the fourth wall completely by speaking to the audience,
but Zemeckis has clearly established the tone for the climax,
over-the-top ridiculousness, in which real world logic doesn’t fully apply
and we wouldn’t want it to.
“嗨 快点 我得换衣服
in fact, throughout the scene,
anytime Zemeckis needs to have a beat hit or kicked a momentum in the pants
he’ll push for a tight shot on Doc Brown reacting like a madman,
whether it’s to the photo,
or a gargoyle,
or the cord coming unplugged
this plus the gusting wind, the constant cutting on action
and Marty and Doc maniacally running back and forth
live-ins up what would have been a very dull expositional scene,
explaining the logistical details of time-travel,
details that doc has already covered earlier in the movie.
of course if everything was right, there would be no climax,
hence the tree branch falling and knocking the cord free.
this sets in motion a series of events where everything that can go wrong does.
the ledge crumbles beneath Doc’s feet,
the DeLoreans engine cuts out,
doc plugs the loose end of the court in only to have it come undone at the other end.
the goal here is pure science fiction fantasy
but all the obstacles are easily relatable to a normal human.
“拜托 拜托 发动！”
Please, please, come on!
this avalanche of unfortunate events
would elicit I roles of the aw come on really variety
except that Zemeckis has already expertly established the broad jocular tone of the movie
by now it makes sense to the audience
that a stopped car could only be restarted
with the frustrated bump of a forehead against a steering wheel.
it’s not because of electricity or due to wonky auto mechanics,
确切地说 这是因为只有最搞笑最令人满足 意想不到的举动才能奏效
it’s because of course only the funniest most satisfying storytelling choice would work this
this is why Back to The Future’s dozens,
if not hundreds, of logical and anachronistic errors throughout the film go overlooked,
at least the first time you view it.
nobody cares that doc is wearing velcro shoes when he’s hanging from the clock tower,
even though velcro shoes didn’t get popular until the 1980s.
what matters is that both comedic and action momentum
is maintained to keep the audience racing forward
and focused on the details that matter to the story.
not the nitpicky ones that the logical side of your brain would spurn.
which is why in retrospect
it was so critical for Zemeckis to make the decision to cut Stoltz free
and bravely ask for an extra three million dollars to reshoot with Fox.
as a director he knew that
if he didn’t have the right actor to land his jokes and and established the tone,
he’d never get the audience to come along for the ride
from the past all the way back to the future.
it’s a reminder that truly top-notch directing is more than just assembling your shots
it’s about establishing tone and characterization from the very GetGo
and maintaining it through your climax.
few movies more meticulously planned payoff story beats better than back to the future,
but the most important ceding Zemeckis did
就是及时回到未来 和马蒂·麦克弗莱重新开始 这是他一直想要的结果
was going back in time to start over with the Marty McFly he always wanted.
so we would still love this movie in the future.
嗨 朋友们 感谢观看解析电影《回到未来》的《电影艺术》节目
hey guys, thanks for watching art of the scene on Back to the Future.
this is one of the cinefix family’s favorite movies,
if you have a scene that you think is iconic
that you’d love to see us break down in more detail,
let us know in the comments below
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