By Marty Mulrooney
Back To The Future: The Ultimate Visual History, created in conjunction with Universal Pictures and fully endorsed by director/co-creator Robert Zemeckis and producer/co-creator Bob Gale, is a deluxe, officially licensed book that goes behind the scenes to tell the complete story of the making of the Back to the Future films. Written by Michael Klastorin – the production publicist on the second and third movies – and Back to the Future expert Randal Atamaniuk, this treasure trove for fans features hundreds of rare and never-before-seen images from the set, concept art, storyboards and other visual treasures, along with brand new exclusive, in-depth interviews with key cast and crew members. In Back to the Future Part II, Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel into the future, to the 21st October 2015 – today! The release of this book commemorates that date, as well as the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the original film in 1985.
Back To The Future: The Ultimate Visual History unfolds in chronological order, from the very first draft of the original film in 1981, to the final part of the trilogy released in 1990 and beyond (Back to the Future: The Ride, Back to the Future: The Animated Series). Immediately, the unprecedented level of insider access given to the authors is readily apparent. For example, did you know that in the original first draft of the script Marty was a video pirate? Or that the studio head at the time believed the title ‘Back To The Future’ left much to be desired? His suggestion: Space Man From Pluto!
Difficult subject matters aren’t shied away from either – there is extensive page space dedicated to the casting of Eric Stoltz as Marty Mcfly, a decision which ultimately proved to become a major problem for the picture – recasting and the reshoots this decision would entail would cost the filmmakers an additional $4 million! The ‘Crispin Glover situation’ is also spoken about extensively and these difficulties during production offer some of the most interesting and revealing aspects of the book.
It’s a ‘heavy’ tome full of beautiful little moments frozen in time – producer Neil Canton recalls how, on the night where they told the crew Eric Stoltz was leaving (week 7 of filming) and Michael J. Fox was joining the production, ‘his beeper went off, indicating that his wife had just gone into labor. Thus, for Canton, the birth of his daughter is forever linked to the birth of a new Marty McFly.’ Christopher Lloyd didn’t even know who Eric was – the actor’s insistence that everyone call him ‘Marty’ on set had obviously worked far better than expected or planned!
The second and third film are chronicled in just as much detail – head of Universal Sid Sheinberg wasn’t happy about Robert Zemeckis going off to make Who Framed Roger Rabbit for Disney after the first film was released. To ensure Christopher Lloyd would be unavailable too, he cast him as Judge Doom. Meanwhile, Bob Gayle worked on the script for a sequel. The original year that Marty was going to travel back to in the third act of Part II? 1967! They eventually decided they had settled on the wrong decade, instead sending Marty back to the events of the first film – before travelling to the Wild West in what would become Back to the Future Part III.
Already a beautifully designed book crammed full of concept art, storyboards and behind-the-scenes photographs, there is also a wealth of special removable items included such as:
- A Hill Valley High School Tardy Slip
- A Back to the Future: The Ride security pass
- A Save the Clocktower leaflet
- A sepia photograph of Marty and Doc from Part III
- Marty’s note to Doc from the first film with the envelope
- George McFly’s book cover
- A Jaws 19 movie poster
- George and Lorraine’s prom photo
- Doc’s flux capacitor sketch from the first film
- Doc’s note to Marty from 1885
- A Biff one dollar bill from Part II
- A Blast from the Past receipt from Part II
- A lenticular version of the iconic McFly family photo from the first film
Each item is gorgeous and authentic, adding an extra layer of value and insight to an already highly authorative and enjoyable book. The only downside is that each item is attached to the book with a little blob of soft glue – some need to be removed to read the text behind them properly, leaving a small stain on the page and the question of where to store them once removed. Pockets attached to the pages would have been greatly appreciated! Yet this is a small complaint at best and does little to dampen what a truly incredible achievement Back To The Future: The Ultimate Visual History really is. In its own way, it’s a 244-page time machine that fans of the films won’t be able to put down. Great Scott – what an incredible anniversary present! Happy Back to the Future Day. 🙂
10 OUT OF 10