Contemplating Back To The Future and It’s A Wonderful Life

I recently got the Ultimate box set of Back to the Future and was rewatching 2 & 3 again. At the end of 3, I suddenly thought about Doc & Clara’s existence – what happens to them and the kids? Clara was supposed to have died; she is now out of the space-time continuum, so she and any offspring should not exist. Does that mean they must all stay out of time in case they have an affect on the time line? Otherwise, they would introduce an unknown element in it, causing a paradox that will destroy it. Won’t they hate their parents for that? I mean, apart from dressing them like complete prats in the Victorian outfits. Is the only way they are going to get laid is by being on the lookout for soon to be dead hotties whose existence won’t be missed by the time line? And don’t get me started on leaving the debris of the flux capacitor, as well as the remains of the Mr Fusion, lying around for someone to pick it up and alter time by inventing things at the wrong juncture; haven’t they seen Terminator 2?

Back to the Future 2 doesn’t have as many quandaries for me, only the problem with the film itself. It divests too much energy into weaving itself within the first film for it to be a satisfactory film in its own right, regardless of all the set-ups for the third film. You have to admire what they tried to do; create a sequel to a film that is not the same as the first, but includes the things that they think people enjoyed about the first. However, by having exactly the same things happen in a different context (the hoverboard around the square referencing the skateboard around the square, the manure getting dumped into Biff’s car in both films), the film becomes a slightly distorted copy of the original. The first is an almost perfect film, so the second seems a lesser film because of its replication.

Seeing BTTF 2 reminds me of my recent viewing of It’s A Wonderful Life, seeing as they are both have a beautiful small town turned into a sleazy pit through the greed of one man. (An aside: I’ve always loved the fact that the two best-loved Christmas stories, It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol, are science fiction – alternate universes and time travel, respectively. Makes me smile, for some reason.) When I watched it last, I couldn’t help but think about what would happen after the end of the film. George will still be a depressive with problems in a shit job, and Mr Potter will still be a money-grabbing bastard out to get him. And what about all those people giving him money at the end? Nobody is taking notice of who is giving how much, which is all rendered pointless due to the rich friend giving George a loan that more than covers the deficit. They are still going to live in a shit house that will possibly maim or kill his kids, and the kids will be in therapy over the disillusionment passed on from their father. Because that is the really depressing aspect of the film – George has had his dreams crushed at every turn: he can never fulfil his ambition to travel because of his father dying; his uncle being a useless twat when it comes to business; his brother swanning off and not giving a toss for George; his insanely saintly wife forcing him to live in a dilapidated hovel; and living on the poverty line just because he helps people. The question is why didn’t he try to kill himself beforehand? It is so soul destroying; if I’d had my dreams constantly shat on, I dread to think what state I would be in, let alone base a film on it.

2 Comments

  • Brandon 31 January 2006 at 4:51 pm

    You hit the nail on the head with It’s a Wonderful Life. Always bothers me. But take a look at other Capra films. . . they never resolve the real problems.

    I won’t say anymore in case you haven’t seen it, but Arsenic and Old Lace is a good example.

    Reply
  • David 31 January 2006 at 5:26 pm

    I haven’t watched enough of Capra’s films to be able to make a call on that one, Brandon, but I did enjoy It Happened One Night without any problems.

    I have yet to see Arsenic and Old Lace, but will look out for it.

    Reply

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