“This scene always makes me feel cozy,” he said. We were snuggled on our couch and beginning the third installment of the mega trilogy Back to the Future. It's raining and Doc and Marty are fast asleep in 1955. In a moment, Doc is up and trying to make sense of why Marty is still standing in front of him. He just sent Marty back to 1985 during a critical lightning storm... and yet the "future boy" is back in his living room claiming he again needs to hitch another ride, this time to 1885.
If you've seen this, there’s a chance it was near and dear to your childhood. You probably grew up on the films and saw them with your parents. If you haven’t heard of it, then you’re living under a rock because every web site and news outlet has been fighting for your attention running story after story on the phenomenon that was Back to the Future.
I never saw the films as a child. I was an 80’s babe, so they were just a tad early for my time. Of course, I had seen them in passing, and I knew of them. It wasn’t until I had a writing assignment that I had to sit and watch all three cult classic films. I’m a writer and this month marks the 30th anniversary of the franchise, but more importantly, the exact date in the future that Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to October 21st, 2015 in Back to the Future Part Two. That’s right, you guys. We’re in the future.
Because it will be a trending topic and my job as a writer and “culturist” is to study what people want to talk about, I had research to do. When I pitched the idea people were really excited about it vigorously recounting references and alluding to what they suspect other outlets will cover. I looked and listened. This was my idea and I hadn’t seen one Back to the Future film. For good measure, my sweetheart insisted I watch all three. I’m nothing if not an investigative writer so I agreed.
Watching the films with someone who– despite being my age– is very much a part of the Back to the Future cultist following was a neat experiment. I spent half my attention on the films diligently taking notes for my article, and the other half watching his reaction. Nostalgia is too easy a word to use, but it was in his eyes. A heavy smile is closer to how I’d describe it. I saw that simple kind of sadness that has begun to follow us as we age. It's bitter pill to realize the fleeting nature of time.
In other words, just yesterday he was a kid sitting on his father’s lap watching these films with his entire life stretched before him. Santa Claus may have been real, and so was the far-off notion that he too could time travel to 2015, a land with hover boards and flying cars. Now, it is 2015. He’s old enough to be a father and these movies, once his favorite, are now considered classics.
And just like my sweetheart, there are the millions of fans that have made this a story; the dedicated following who remembered the exact date this month because they've seen the film so many times and it stirs up emotion in them. It’s one of art’s most powerful characteristics, the ability to make us feel.
I was quite surprised that the intended “BuzzFeed” type assignment actually wound up becoming something far more touching. My Back to the Future story may not have begun as a childhood tradition, and I half expected to be a little bored during the cheesy films. But I too felt the pangs of happy-sad emotions when the soundtrack began to get a little louder (typically towards the climax of each film), and, of course, when I saw the wistful look in a true fan's eyes.
Had I remembered being a kid and having tremendous expectations of the future? Most certainly. Did the films evoke in me something from my past? Yes. Had I caught second-hand Back to the Future? Great Scott, I believe I had.
Check out the trailer to the trilogy's documentary...